Tokyo: Celebrated Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu might face off in the second round of women’s singles competition if they can cross the first hurdle of the USD 275,000 Japan Open Super Series beginning next week. Silver medallist at the recent World Championship, Saina will take on World No. 17 Thai Busanan Ongbumrungpan in the opening round, while two-time World Championship bronze medallist Sindhu, who is unseeded here, will open her campaign against Japan’s Minatsu Mitani, ranked 18th, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium from September 8 to 13.
It could be the second clash of their career at the International stage after they met at the 2014 India Grand Prix Gold final, in which World No.1 Saina had the last laugh. The duo had come close to facing each other during the Indonesia Open Super Series Premier which was held in June this year. They were also on course for a collision at the semifinal stage during the 2014 India Open Super Series. Saina and Sindhu had played for the first time in a competitive match during the 2013 Indian Badminton League (IBL) representing Hyderabad Hot Shots and Awadhe Warriors respectively.
Among other Indians, World No. 4 Kidambi Srikanth is the only Indian to be seeded in men’s singles. He will take on Scott Evans of Ireland in the opening match. Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will take on local favourite Takuma Ueda, while Dutch Open winner Ajay Jayaram will face Danish seventh seed Viktor Axelsen and HS Prannoy will square up against Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong. In women’s doubles, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who recently won the Canada Open, will meet eighth seeded Chinese combo of Zhao Yunlei and Zhong Qianxin, while Pradnya Gadre and N Sikki Reddy will fight it out with Japanese top seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi in the opening round.