Defending champ Saina looks for first title of the season

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Rejuvenated after a month and a half’s break following the IBL, defending champion Saina Nehwal will now eye her maiden title of the season when she competes at the USD 400,000 Denmark Super Series Premier which begins with the qualifiers here today.

“I am the defending champion in Denmark. It will be tough but I am ready for the challenge of defending the title,” Saina told.

“I have been in good form in the IBL. I will give my 100 per cent and I hope to do well in Denmark,” added the fourth seeded Indian, who will open her campaign against Bulgaria’s Stefani Stoeva, ranked 58 in World, on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old has not been in the best of form this season and also had some injury concerns and it reflected in her performance as she could only manage quarterfinals and semifinals. So, if she can defend the crown here, it would be her first title of the year.

Tough round one for Sindhu

It won’t be an easy ride as Saina is likely to face World No. 6 Ji Hyun Sung of South Korea in the quarters and if she keeps her 4-0 record intact then she is expected to be up against top seed Chinese Li Xuerui, who will start her campaign against India’s Arundhati Pantawane.

Another Indian in women’s singles, World Championships bronze medallist P V Sindhu will face a difficult opponent in World No. 17 Eriko Hirose of Japan in the first round.

If the World No.10 Indian can get past her, Sindhu is likely to face World No. 2 and World Champion Intanon Ratchanok of Thailand in the quarterfinals. In men’s singles, World No. 14 Parupalli Kashyap, who is coming back from an ankle injury, will take on the World No. 16 Darren Liew of Malaysia in his tournament opener.

Ajay Jayaram will be up against World No. 8 Boonsak Ponsana of Thailand, World No. 24 Gurusaidutt will meet World No.11 Hu Yun of Hong Kong in the first round.PTI



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