Saina Nehwal starts title defence in Indonesia



Saina Nehwal starts title defence in IndonesiaJakarta: Three-time champion Saina Nehwal will look to fashion a turn around when she returns to her favourite hunting ground at the Indonesian Super Series Premier badminton tournament to defend her women`s singles title from Wednesday.

The World number two Indian has been going through a lean patch this season. Though she reached the semifinals of the All England and Swiss Open earlier this year, Saina has not been able to win any tournament since last October.

The Olympic bronze medallist also suffered a couple of defeats to lower-ranked players like Yui Hashimoto of Japan in the Indian Open and Juan Gu at the Thailand Open.

But the 23-year-old from Hyderabad, who has scripted many memorable wins at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno Stadium here, will look to get her bearings when she opens her title defence against local player Lindaweni Fanetri on Wednesday.

The 2009, 2010 and 2012 winner has been clubbed in the second half of the draw and is likely to meet seventh seed Chinese Shixian Wang in the quarterfinals if she can get past the two initial rounds.

If Saina can get across her old rival Shixian, then she is expected to meet the fourth seeded German Juliane Schenk in semifinals.

The top seed Xuerui LI and third seed Yihan Wang of China and the teen sensation Ratchanok Intanon, seeded fifth, who won the Thailand Grand Prix last week, are in the first half of the draw.

In the men`s singles, world number 10 Parupalli Kashyap will open his campaign against 19th ranked Sho Sasaki of Japan. The Indian has lost to the Japanese during the India Grand Prix Gold in 2008.

If he can cross the hurdle, Kashyap is likely to meet eighth seed Thai Boonsak Ponsana in the second round. Ponsana was beaten by the fellow Indian K Srikanth in the finals of the Thailand Open on Monday.

Among others, world number 37 Sourabh Verma will face 15th ranked Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, while Ajay Jayaram and RMV Gurusaidutt will take on qualifiers in their opening round matches.

In the women`s doubles, world number 41 Indian duo of Pradnya Gadre and Ashwini Ponnappa will meet Mingtian Fu and Lei Yao, while Ashwini will again combine with Tarun Kona as the world number 29 pair will take on Praveen Jordan and Vita Marissa in the mixed doubles competition.

PTI