Saina to open against Yin in Indian Open
New Delhi: Indian badminton ace Saina Nehwal will open her campaign against Asian Games bronze medallist Yip Pui Yin of Hong Kong in the India Open World Superseries tournament, starting here on April 24.
The event will also double up as the final qualifying meet for the London Olympics.
Saina, seeded third here, had beaten Yin three times in a row since her loss to the same opponent in the Asian Games quarterfinals in 2010.
The world number five, who has been placed in the same half as top seed Shixian Wang of China, is likely to face off against two-time All England champion Tine Baun of Denmark in the quarterfinals.
If she clears that hurdle, in all probability, she would have to overcome back-to-back Chinese opponents for the title. While Saina`s draw is tricky, the other Commonwealth Games gold medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa have been handed a tough first round as the women`s doubles combination launch their campaign against seventh seeds Poon Lok Yan and Tse Ying Suet of Hong Kong.
The Indian pair is in the hunt for its maiden Olympic berth and would have liked to have an easier opponent first up, but Jwala put up a brave front.
"Draws are never easy but that has never bothered us. We have beaten them before and I am quite confident, we can beat them at the Indian Open," said the shuttler, who will also be playing mixed doubles with V Diju.
Jwala and Diju will face the Chinese combination of Jiaming Tao and Huan Xia in the opening round and though their opponents do not feature in the echelons of the Chinese squad, the first round encounter won`t be easy for the Indians.
"Our job is not to crib and take pressure. But rather play and win matches. We know we are capable of doing much better. So we are only concentrating on our games," Jwala said.
In the men`s singles section, Olympic hopefuls Ajay Jayaram and P Kashyap failed to find any big favour from the draw with both taking on higher ranked opponents in the opening round.
While world number 27 Ajay Jayaram faces Englishman Rajiv Ousephv - ranked seven places above him - Kashyap meets Pablo Abian of Spain in the first round.
If they manage to cross the first hurdle, Ajay faces the prospect of meeting defending champion and world number one Lee Chong Wei, while fifth seed Lee Hyun II may await Kashyap in the second round.
"It is tricky but in a Superseries one cannot expect the draw to be easy. This year`s Indian Open especially is the last qualification opportunity for Olympics, naturally everyone will try earning points and positions for the Olympics," said national coach Pullela Gopichand.
"Moreover tough competitions is something that is not in our hands but I am confident all the players will be giving their best at the Indian Open," he added.