Kolkata: Indian badminton fans might be in for a riveting encounter between two of the country’s best female shuttlers, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu in the tenth edition of the Indian Open which started off today at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in Delhi.
The first major badminton tournament of the year, the All England Open Badminton Championship wasn’t a great one for either of the two. Saina between the two, put up a fight of some sorts and played brilliantly before bowing out at the quarter-final stage while Sindhu, who too exited the competition at the same stage had a forgettable tournament. But both these Indian shuttlers would look to put all that behind them and look forward to putting up a better display at the Indian Open.
Both Saina and Sindhu, who would compete in the second draw of the tournament have easy first round matches. Former world number one and sixth seeded Saina would square off against Taiwanese Chia Hsin Lee in the first round. Saina is expected to win this one pretty easily and go into the second round too. It is only after winning both these matches can there be hopes of a Saina-Sindhu clash provided Sindhu wins both her matches too, in the first and the second rounds.
Third seeded Sindhu, would face off against Singaporean shuttler Xiaoyu Liang in the first round and is expected to emerge victorious which would pit her against Japanese Saena Kawakami in the second round. If she wins this one as well, she would set up a date with Saina in the quarter-finals of the Indian Open, which is most likely to happen. Thus, an Indian would qualify for the semifinals of the prestigious tournament which is, of course, a sign of good things to come for Indian badminton.
Saina has indeed shown a lot of heart and character to come back into proper shape after her knee surgery post the Rio Olympics and promising to put her best foot forward, she said, “Delhi has always been special to me. I won the Commonwealth Games gold here and then won the Indian Open in 2015 and became the world No. 1. So everything has been special for me. It is great to play in front of home crowd.” Sindhu, who did India proud at the Rio Olympics last year by getting a silver medal, did not look forward to any particular player and said, “Competition will be tough and I am looking ahead to an exciting week.”
However the road to glory for both these players wouldn’t be an easy one as the winner of the much awaited clash would have to battle it out against either Carolina Marin or Ratchanok Intanon in the semi-finals. Sindhu and Saina have never met in the tournament earlier. They both faced off at the Syed Modi International in 2014 where Saina won, in straight sets. Sindhu got her redemption in this year’s Premier Badminton League (PBL) where she reigned supreme over her senior. At the end of it all, whoever it is that walks out with the smiles after the probable quarter-final clash, it would be no less than a blockbuster for Indian badminton fans as both these superstars would be cheered in equal measure.
(With inputs from PTI)