Saina still eyes first title of 2013 in Singapore
Singapore: After failing to retain crowns in Thailand and Indonesia in the last couple of weeks, ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal will now look to break her nine-month title draught when she begins her campaign in the Singapore Super Series here on Tuesday.
The world number two Indian has been going through a dip in form, besides having some injury concerns and it reflected in her performance at Thailand and Indonesia where she crashed out of the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.
By this time of the year, Saina always has at least one title in her cabinet but this year, even though she reached the semifinals of the All England and Swiss Open earlier, a title has eluded her. In fact, she has not won a title since last October.
The 23-year-old, who skipped the tournament last year in the run up for the London Olympics, will look to turn around things but she will have to be on guard as she begins her campaign against local player Juan Gu.
Juan had spoilt Saina`s campaign at Thailand and the Olympic bronze medallist will be eager to avenge that quarterfinal loss tomorrow.
The road ahead won`t be easy for the Commonwealth Champion as some top players, including world number 12 Eriko Hirose, world number 5 Ratchanok Intanon, are in the fray.
Drawn in the second half, Saina, however, won`t face any Chinese before the semifinals.
World number 11 P V Sindhu, who won the Malaysia Open Grand Prix in May, meanwhile, pulled out of the tournament as she is yet to recover from her knee injury.
In men`s singles, world number 10 Parupalli Kashyap will also look to fashion a turn around after he lost to Sho Sasaki of Japan in the opening round of Indonesia Super Series last week in Jakarta.
"Past is past, I am just thinking about Singapore now. The draw seems okay. Let`s hope for the best," said Kashyap, who won the bronze in Commonwealth Games.
Thailand Open Champion Kidambi Srikanth too has been awarded a direct entry into the main draw after two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China pulled out.
The 20-year-old from Guntur will now begin his campaign against sixth seed Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam tomorrow.
"After 5 pm yesterday the draw was reshuffled and I got the news that I am in the main draw," said Srikanth.
Among others, Anand Pawar will take on top seed Pengyu Du of China, Ajay Jayaram will be up against fourth seeded Japanese Kenichi Tago, Sourabh Varma will meet Hong Kong`s Wing Ki Wong and RMV Gurusaidutt will be squaring up against Wei Feng Chong of Malaysia at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
In women`s doubles, Indian pair of Aparna Balan and Siki Reddy will take on Malaysian combo of Meng Yean Lee and Yin Loo Lim, while world number 42 Pradnya Gadre and Ashwini Ponnappa will clash with Indonesian combo of Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Greysia Polii.
Ashwini will also pair with Tarun Kona to take on third seed Indonesian combination of Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir in the mixed doubles competition.