Kashyap will fancy his chances; Jwala-Diju have a tough ask
Fourth seed Saina Nehwal will take on lowly ranked qualifiers — Switzerland’s Sabrina Jacquet and Belgium’s Lianne Tan — in the league phase for a place in the pre-quarterfinals at the Olympic badminton in London this fortnight.
Saina will be playing both these players for the first time. Tan is ranked 55th in the world and Jacquet, 65th.
If she wins both matches, Saina is likely to face either World No. 20 Jie Yao — a Chinese representing the Netherlands with a career-high ranking of eight — against who Saina holds a 3-2 record after winning their last two encounters.
As per the draw released in London on Monday, P. Kashyap will have reasons to be hopeful of making the men’s singles quarterfinals since he is not drawn to meet any top-10 player. The World No. 21 faces Vietnamese Nguyen Tien Minh, ranked 11, and Belgium’s Tan Yuyan, ranked 54, in the three-player league. Against Nguyen Tien Minh, Kashyap has won twice but has lost the last three encounters. He holds a 1-1 record against Tan Yuyan — he had lost in the Austrian Open but avenged the loss in the Indian Open here in April.
In women’s doubles, World No.20, Gutta Jwala and Ashwini Ponnapa, the World championship bronze medallists, are clubbed with fourth seeded Japanese Mizuki Fujii and Reikka Kakiiwa, ranked fifth in the world, and Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin, ranked 10.
Against both these pairs, the Indians have won once in three meetings. In the mixed doubles, Jwala and V. Diju, have a tough ask.
Ranked 13, the duo is part of a four-pair group headed by Indonesian World No.4 Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, seeded three.
The other two pairs are, Denmark’s Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter and Korea’s Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun — ranked eighth and ninth in the world. With the Indian pair needing to beat two of the three pair from the world’s top-10 list for a place in the quarterfinals, it appears like a tough ask.