Hong Kong: Following the loss in the final of the prestigious and lucrative China Open on Sunday, Saina Nehwal will be more eager and hungrier than ever to clinch a Superseries title at the $350,000 Hong Kong Open, which commences at the Hong Kong Coliseum here on Tuesday.
Despite achieving the World No.1 spot this year and consistently beating all top-players, the Indian badminton super star has only been able to clinch one Superseries title in 2015 -- the India Open in March.
Though she won the India Grand Prix Gold too in January, she has lost three major finals -- All-England, World Championships and now China Open -- which has prevented her from making 2015 a great season from only a good one.
However, things could change this week as the Hyderabadi proceeds to the global eastern metropolis as the women's singles second seed for the final Superseies of the year, a title she had won five years back.
The Indian will open her campaign against local girl Yip Pui Yin, against whom she has a strong 6-2 record, winning her last five encounters.
Saina is unlikely to meet a formidable opponent until the quarterfinals when she will likely be up against former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon. A win against against the Thai could hand Saina a rematch against reigning Olympic champion Li Xuerui, who beat her on Sunday in the final, or against fourth seed and defending champion Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei.
Double World Championship bronze medallist P.V. Sindhu, on the other hand, has been handed an extremely tough first round against World No.1 and reigning World Champion Carolina Marin.
Though the tall and lanky Indian has a respectable 2-3 record against the Spaniard, also having won their last encounter in October in Denmark, the top seed is nevertheless always an extremely tough opponent.
Mumbai's Ajay Jayaram also has had to suffer a similar fate as he will take on top seed and reigning World Champion Chen Long in his men's singles opener. H.S. Prannoy will commence against a yet to be named qualifier while India's top-ranked male shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, who has been seeded sixth, will start against Tian Houwei.
Though Srikanth is ranked five places higher than the Chinese at No.5, he has a dismal 0-4 record against Tian.
Women's pairing of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa is the only Indian doubles combine at the event and they also face a tough opener against South Korean eighth seeds Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan.