Kolkata: The year 2016 hasn’t been a pleasant one for Saina Nehwal. A knee injury forced her out of contention in the second round at the Rio Olympics. Yes, she did combat a foot injury to win the Australian Open before the Olympics, but thenceforth, she struggled. But, the shuttler from Hyderabad is keen on making an impression in the Malyasia Masters. Saina is seeded one in the season’s first Grand Prix Gold Badminton tournament beginning in Sarawak tomorrow.
Saina may not be on the top of her game, but the absence of some of the world’s top players in the tournament will give Saina, also Olympic bronze medal winner, the edge in the USD 120,000 tournament, reports PTI.
The recently concluded Premier Badminton League (PBL) gave her the much needed match practice she needed. Despite losing to Olympic gold medalist Carolina Marin and fellow Hyderabadi, PV Sindhu who bagged the silver at Rio, Saina did manage to taste victory in three matches that hopefully has given her some confidence.
After recuperating from the knee injury, Saina entered the quarterfinals at Macau and Hong Kong Opens before helping her team Awadhe Warriors reach the semi-finals in the PBL.
Now more on the Indian representation in the Malaysia Masters, in the men’s singles, P Kashyap has opted out with a shoulder injury but sixth seed Ajay Jayaram, will face a qualifier on the opening day of the main draw. Harsheel Dani will be up against Malaysia’s Zii Jia Lee, Abhishek Yelegar will battle it out against 13th seed Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Rahul Yadav Chittaboina will face Chinese Taipei’s Hsueh Hsuan Yi. Pratul Joshi faces Singapore’s Zin Rei Ryan Ng, Siril Verma challenges Thailand’s Pannawit Thongnuam and Aditya Joshi will be up against Indonesia’s Wisnu Yuli Prasetyo in the opening round. Hemanth Gowda will take on ninth seed Iskandar Zulkarnain and 15th seed B Sai Praneeth faces local shuttler June Wei Cheam.
In the women’s singles, Rituparna Das will meet Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Mei Hui and Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli will face sixth seed Jin Wei Goh of Malaysia, also reports PTI.
In the women’s doubles, Ashwini Ponnappa and Sikki Reddy will face the Malaysian pair of Yea Ching Goh and Khe Wei Woon. Also in the fray are Sruthi K P and Haritha Manazhiyil Harinarayanan, Mahima Aggarwal and Maneesha K and Aparna Balan and Prajakta Sawant.
In the mixed doubles, seventh seeds Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Sikki will be up against the Malaysian pair of Hang Yee Low and Yee See Cheah. Jwala Gutta and Manu Attri face Indonesia’s Lukhi Apri Nugroho and Ririn Amelia, while Ashwini and B Sumeeth Reddy will be facing the sixth seed Indonesian pair of Tontowi Ahmad and Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja.