New Delhi: Badminton buffs have been waiting for a mouthwatering marquee clash between Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu. The two Indians could possibly face off for the first time if both go through to the quarter-finals at the India Open here next week.
Pusarla Venkata Sindhu, to give her full name, is excited at the prospect of playing the World No.2 but she doesn`t want to think that far ahead. All the same, she is game for challenging Saina.
"I am not thinking of playing Saina right now. I have two stiff hurdles to cross. I play a Chinese in the first round and if I win, then the next opponent could also be a Chinese. If both of us (me and Saina) go through to the quarters as scripted in the draw, we should have a good match. I can only say I will try to give my best and obviously play to win," Sindhu told IANS on Sunday after a practice session here at the Siri Fort Complex.
"It all boils down to who plays better on the given day. I am taking one thing at a time and every round is tough."
The two Indians have been in different halves of the draw because of their rankings. And at last the clash between the two could not be avoided here at the Indian leg of Badminton World Federation`s (BWF) Super Series.
The 17-year-old daughter of former India volleyball star P.V. Ramana has been making steady progress, pulling off upset victories on the way. Only three days ago, she stunned former World No.1 Shixian Wang of China at the Badminton Asia Championships in Taipei.
"I played well against Shixian and could have won it with a lot more comfort. In the decider, I was leading 17-8 and suddenly I lapsed into all manner of errors to allow her to get back into the match and get to matchpoint. Thankfully, I reeled off three to stop her and win the match. It was a highly satisfying win," said the Hyderabadi, who is seeded eighth at the India Open.
Her record against Chinese players has been pretty impressive. Late last year, she knocked out another top Chinese, reigning Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui, from the China Masters Super Series to enter the semi-finals.
The World No.16 has been on the verge of winning Grand Prix besides reaching the last-fours stage of Super Series events. Does she believe she can make the next grade this year?
"I am World No.16 now and aim to be in the top-10 by the end of the year. To achieve that, I am working hard. I am training to be fit, up my concentration levels and focus on my skills. If I can do all these consistently, I should be able to win tournaments. Hopefully, a tournament win is around the corner," signed off the star trainee at the Pullela Gopichand Academy.
Could that happen at the USD 200,000 India Open Super Series at the Siri Fort Complex April 23-28? The coming weekend will provide the answer.