Fit-again Saina starts campaign in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur: After skipping season-opening Korea Open due to fitness issues, a fit-again Saina Nehwal will now start her campaign in the USD 500,000 Malaysia Super Series Premier which starts with the qualifiers here from Tuesday.

Saina, seeded eighth, had endured a tough season last year as she could not win a single title. She also decided to miss the Senior Nationals in December and last week`s Korea Open after suffering from cough and cold.

However, the world number eight Indian is now fully fit and is rearing to go, as she prepares to open her campaign against Indonesia`s Hera Desi in the first round at the Putra stadium on Wednesday.

It won`t be an easy march ahead for Saina as top Chinese shuttlers -- Li Xuerui and Yihan Wang -- are also placed in the first half of the draw.

In the last two years Saina had reached the semifinals but the 23-year-old will look to better that record this time. The Olympic bronze medallist is likely to meet world number 30 Yao Xue of China in the second round. Rising shuttler P V Sindhu, who also skipped the Korea Open after winning the Senior Nationals in December, will meet Indonesia`s London Fanetri, ranked 20 in the world, in the second half of the draw in her season opener.

The world number 11 has been in good form last year as she won Malaysia Grand Prix Gold and Macau Open, besides winning the prestigious bronze medal in the World Championship in Guangzhou, China.

If Sindhu can get past Lindaweni, the 18-year-old is likely to meet sixth seed Yeon Ju Bae of Korea in the second round.
In the men`s singles category, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Parupalli Kashyap will lead the Indian challenge when he opens his campaign against Germany`s Marc Zwiebler in the first round.

The 27-year-old, who had reached the highest ranking of No. 6 in the world last year, decided to skip the Korea Open after suffering a shoulder injury, but now having regained his fitness, will look for some good show this season.

A win in the opening round will place Kashyap against Denmark`s Jan O Jorgensen, seeded third in the tournament. Crowned the National champion less than a month ago, K Srikanth will be another prospective Indian to look forward to this season. He will take on Hong Kong`s Yun Hu in his campaign opener.

Among other Indians, RMV Gurusaidutt will take on Holland`s Eric Pang, while Anand Pawar will meet China`s Zhengming Wang in the opening round. There are no Indians in the doubles competitions.

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