Free Press Journal

Saina skips Singapore Open, Srikanth leads Indian charge


Singapore: Olympic bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal has withdrawn from USD 300,000 Singapore Open Super Series badminton tournament to recharge her batteries after competing at the highest level for the last few weeks.The Indian ace had a hectic last month as she competed at the All England Championship, India Open Super Series and Malaysia Open Super Series Premier.

The 25-year-old reached the finals at Birmingham and New Delhi, before finishing as a semifinalist in Kuala Lumpur last week following her narrow defeat to China’s Li Xuerui. It could have been a hat-trick of finals for Saina but two line calls robbed her of the achievement and saw her surrender the world no. 1 crown to Li after attaining the numero uno status during her India Open triumph.

“Last month was hectic. I have played three tournaments and reached the finals at two. I didn’t want to overburden myself. It is a very important year so I thought let me train for a week and play at the Asian badminton championship,” said Saina, who won India Grand Prix Gold in January at Lucknow.

P V Sindhu will also not be available for Singapore Open as she has just started her training after a stress injury kept her out of the court last month. The 19-year-old is likely to be back for the Asian Badminton Championship from April 21-26 at Wuhan. In Saina’s absence, it will be new sensation Kidambi Srikanth who will lead the Indian challenge when the main draw gets underway at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Wednesday.

Srikanth, who won the Swiss Grand Prix Gold and India Super Series last month, will open his campaign against Vietnam’s Tien Minh Nguyen. Interestingly, the 22-year-old from Guntur had beaten Tien at the last edition. Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will be up against Korea’s Lee Hyun Il. The Indian does not have a good record against him as he has lost thrice in four meetings and he will have to play out of his skin.

Indonesia Masters champion, H S Prannoy, will take on Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong in his opening round. The Indian has beaten Wong twice but the last time they faced each other, it was the Hong Kong shuttler who had the last laugh at Macau Open. In women’s singles, P C Thulasi is the only Indian in the fry and she will square off against Denmark’s Line Kjaersfeldt.

In women’s doubles, 2010 Commonwealth Games champions Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will be up against Korea’s Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won.