New Delhi, Apr 25: All eyes will be on Saina Nehwal as she returns to the Siri Fort sport complex, looking to recreate her Commonwealth Games gold medal success, at the Indian Open Super Series starting here tomorrow.
The 21-year-old ace has been troubled by an ankle injury for the past few months but Saina assured she is fit to lead the Indian challenge in the USD 200,000 event, the first ever super series in India.
“There were some problems with my ankle, there was a little fluid but it is better now. It was paining during the All England and Swiss Open but I have taken tablets and I am fit to play,” Saina said.
With the Chinese deciding to skip the event because of prior engagements, the stage is set for the top seeded Indian to sizzle, but Saina remains cautious and is not ready to lower her guard against the lower-ranked shuttlers.
“This stadium has been lucky for me and I hope to perform like I did in the Commonwealth Games. It is going to be tough even though the Chinese players are not here. Other players are also playing very well.
“Second seed Tine Baun of Denmark is also here, even the Japanese, Koreans, all have improved a lot. It is going to be a tough fight,” said Saina, who takes on Ai Goto in the first round.
Aditi Mutatkar, the other Indian challenger in the women's singles, faces fourth seed Pui Yin Yip of Thailand in her tournament opener.
With women's world number one and two Wang Shixian and Wang Yihan missing in action, it will also be an opportunity for Dane Tine Baun, who is back after recovering from injury, sixth seed Ji Hyun Sung and third seed Youn Joo Bae to shine.
In the men's singles, it will be a sort of homecoming for P Kashyap, who won the Commonwealth bronze here and now spearheads Indian challenge in the tournament, where as many as 203 players, comprising 109 men and 94 women, from 16 nations will vie for top honours.
The world number 23 from India, who faces Slovekian Michal Matejka in the first round and a possible showdown with second ranked Taufik Hidayat in the next, said he is itching to beat the Indonesian after coming so close in their last three meetings.
“I have played three very close matches against him last year and each time he went ahead by playing some good strokes in the final stages. Hopefully I will not commit the same mistake this time, I am dying to beat him,” he told PTI.
Among international stars world number one and two, Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and Taufik of Indonesia and Peter Gade of Denmark will be seen in action. PTI