Paris: Saina Nehwal will carry a billion hopes when she takes the court in the World badminton Championship but the ace India shuttler remains quietly confident about her chances in the event which gets underway here on Monday.
Saina, at a career-best world ranking of No 2, has got a bye in the first round and will take on Hsiao Huan Chen of Chinese Taipei in the second round on Tuesday in the women’s singles.
In the men’s singles, Chetan Anand, who just recovered from a knee injury, and P Kashyap will carry India’s flag.
While the 14th seed Chetan will face Ong Zhao Ashton Chen of Singapore, Kashyap will be up against Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand in the first round on Monday.
“Overall it is a very good draw for India. Aditi and Kashyap have got challenging draws but rest of the players such as Saina, Chetan and the mixed doubles pair of Jwala and Diju have got decent draws,” National coach Gopichand said.
“Kashyap has been playing well. But the last two tournaments, he didn’t do that well but there is nothing to worry about as of now because in both the tournaments he was leading.
“Chetan has not played that much in the last month and it would be a good opportunity to get started in the tournament. Jwala and Diju have played against all these players who are there in their half so they should do well,” he added.
Asked about Saina, who has to battle past three Wangs from China - Wang Shixin, Wang Xin and top seed Yihan Wang to win the title, Gopichand said the Hyderabadi is in best shape and hopefully do well.
“Saina is in the second half and some of the players she has not played before are also there but she is in her best form and shape and so she should do well. Moreover draw is just a part of the whole game, she still has to perform at the court to win this tournament,” Gopichand said.
A title triumph will also pave the way to the numero uno status in world rankings but Saina said she is focussing on every match and not thinking about the title at the moment.
“I am no longer scared of the Chinese players. I have put on a lot of hard work with Gopi sir and I am in my best form and shape. I just want to concentrate on the game and not worry about the title,” Saina said.
In the women’s singles, Aditi Mutatkar faces a difficult opponent in 10th seed Japanese Eriko Hirose in the first round, while 15th seeded duo of Rupesh Kumar and Sanave Thomas will face off against Nigerian Ola Fagbemi and Jinkan Ifraimu in the men’s doubles.
The ninth seeded pair of Jwala and Diju will face the English duo of Chris Adcock and Gabrielle White in the first round on Monday, while 16th seeds Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa will clash against Samantha Barning and Eefje Muskens of The Netherland on Monday.