Birmingham : All eyes will be on Indian ace Saina Nehwal when she returns to the court after an injury lay-off at the All England Championship, hoping to better last year’s runner-up finish at the prestigious event which begins with the qualifiers here from Tuesday.
In pursuit of achieving her full fitness ahead of a hectic Olympic year, Saina skipped a series of tournaments, including the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold, but the World No. 2 Indian will now be back in the reckoning as she spearheads the challenge here.
“Unfortunately I could not play any tournament this year because of a nagging ankle injury and a recurrent viral infection. But now I am perfectly all right and my fitness level is also good. I had a good training session and I would give my best in this event,” said Saina.
Two-time bronze medallist at World Championship, India’s P V Sindhu too will hope to turn around her dwindling form when she takes on Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk in the opener.
Among the India men in fray, World No. 10 K Srikanth will face Commonwealth Games silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph in opening round.
H S Prannoy, who has slipped to World No. 26, will look for a good outing to boost his rankings when he takes on China’s Xue Song in his first-round match.
Commonwealth champion P Kashyap is injured at German Open and will be forced to skip the tournament.
World No. 21 Ajay Jayaram, meanwhile, will count his chances to qualify for the Rio Games but the Mumbai-born shuttler will have to put up a good show to get inside the top 16 by the May deadline. He will take on Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus.
2010 Commonwealth Games champions Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will meet Dutch combo of Samantha Barning and Iris Tabeling in the women’s doubles event.
Saina, said “After All England, I want to play the Swiss Open, India Super Seies in New Delhi later this month and Malaysia Super Series Premier in April. All England is starting on the international women’s day and I wish all the women of this world a Happy women’s day.”