Saina, Srikanth look for an encore at China Open

Fuzhou (China): Saina Nehwal and K Srikanth will look to shrug off the recent dip in form and put the best foot forward when they begin their campaign as defending champions at the USD 700,000 China Open Super Series Premier starting with the qualifiers here tomorrow.

The 25-year-old Saina had been suffering from a abdominal pain which affected her performance at Japan, Denmark and France Super Series, where she made early exits.

Also there is some issues with her achilles heels but the Indian is upbeat about a good show here.

“I had some abdominal pain and little discomfort in my heel but now I am fine. I trained harded in the last few weeks and I am really looking forward to the tournament. It is an Olympic year and it is an important event. I will give my best,” said Saina.

The top seeded Indian will take on China’s Sun Yu in the opening round. Even though Saina has a 4-1 record against the Chinese with the only defeat coming in the 2013 China Open in Shanghai, the World No. 11 might prove to be a formidable opponent.

In men’s singles, Srikanth too had been troubled by injury and poor form ever since he stood on the podium at the Indian Open in New Delhi. The Hyderabadi had to skip the Asian Championship because of a pain in shin and then he made early exits at Japan, Korea, Denmark and France.

The fifth seeded Indian will take on Hu Yun of Hong Kong. The Indian has a 2-1 record against Yun but he lost to him in their last encounter at the World Championship in August.

In women’s singles, two-time bronze medallist at World Championship, P V Sindhu, who reached the finals of Denmark Open, will open her campaign against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova.

Among other Indians in men’s singles, Parupalli Kashyap will be missing in action after being sidelines because of a torn calf muscle injury. H S Prannoy and Ajay Jayaram will however look to get some good result in the prestigious tournament.

H S Prannoy, who had scripted the downfall of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan at the French Open, will open his campaign against a qualifier, while Korea Open finalist and Dutch Open winner Jayaram will square up against top seed Chen Long of China in his opening match at the Haixia Olympic Sports Center.

In women’s doubles, Commonwealth Games silver medallists Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will play against Japan’s Naoko Fukuman and Kurumi Yonao in the opening round. The men’s doubles pair of Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy withdrew from the event.