Rested and rejuvenated, World No 1 Saina Nehwal ready to shoulder India’s hopes at the Denmark Open.
After skipping the Korea Open, World No. 1 Saina Nehwal will be back in action when she leads the Indian challenge at the Denmark Open and sharing some of the limelight in the $650,000 Super Series Premier event will be Ajay jayaram, who clinched the Dutch Open last evening. Saina, who had won the Denmark title in 2012 soon after her Olympics bronze winning feat, is supremely confident after weaving some stupendous performances this year and the Indian ace will look to continue her dominant run when she starts her campaign against Busanan Ongbumrungphan of Thailand on Wednesday. A potential quarterfinal clash with Sung Ji hyun looks interesting given that the young Korean, a much improved shuttler from last year and more experienced, too has enjoyed a very good season and struck a measure of consistency this year.
Li Xuerui and Shixian Wang are the Chinese in her half of the draw, though teenaged Japanese Akane Yamaguchi, a pint sized dynamite, can be trusted to burst forth in the draw causing many upsets. The 25-year-old from Hyderabad, who won the India Super Series and Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold, a silver medal at the World Championship, a runners-up finish at All England, is likely to be tested only after the quarterfinals if she plays to her reputation. Also brimming with confidence will be Jayaram, who reached his maiden Super Series final at the Korea Open in September and then defended his men’s singles title at the Dutch Open Grand Prix on Sunday night. With a couple of withdrawals, Ajay seeded 1 in the qualifiers is expected to be promoted to the main draw, however, that can only be confirmed on Tuesday. As things stand, the Mumbai-born shuttler will have to go through the qualifiers, where he will take on Germany’s Fabian Roth at the Odense Sports Park. “Danish Open Super Series will offer bigger challenges. I am looking to take the positives from this tournament (Dutch Open) and give my best next week,” he had said after winning the men’s singles title at Almere. Blowing hot and cold this year, two-time bronze medallist at the World Championship, PV Sindhu, will also look to put her best foot forward when she starts her campaign against Indonesia’s Maria Febe Kusumastuti. If both clear the early round, Sindhu could run into talented Taipese Tai Tzu Ying, and there’s a stiff quarter against Yihan Wang, before Spanish sensation and World champ Carolina Marin comes into her sights, but it remains to be seen if the Indian can string a good week together. There is renewed excitement in the men’s singles this time with a bunch of Indians doing well. However, they’ll need to strike consistency. World No. 5 Kidambi Srikanth — India’s highest ranked singles player, Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap and World No. 16 HS Prannoy will lead the Indian challenge. While Srikanth’s first-round opponent is yet to be decided after the withdrawal of Thailand’s Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, Kashyap will have to fight it out against former world No. 1 and two-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and Prannoy will take on Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao. The Indian men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who finished runners-up at the Dutch Open, will square up against England combo of Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge. In women’s doubles, 2014 Commonwealth Games silver winning pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will be back in business after missing the Korea Open as they take on Japanese Reika Kakiiwa and Miyuki Maeda. The Indian duo, currently ranked 12, had sensationally beaten the young Japanese, now World No. 7, at the World Championships earlier in the year in three thrilling sets and will hope for an encore.