Six summers ago, Saina Nehwal had stood at the podium here with the gold medal dangling around her neck and the Indian ace will hope to relive those moments by clinching the title once again when the Singapore Super Series begins here tomorrow.
Saina has played only three times in the last five editions here at the Singapore Indoor Stadium but she could not go beyond the quarterfinals. The Indian will look to cross that mark this time around when she starts her campaign against USA’s Beiwen Zhang on Wednesday.
World No. 8 Saina, who had to go through a nagging injury since late last year, has reached the semifinals in the last three tournaments—Swiss Grand Prix Gold, India Open Super Series and Malaysia Super Series Premier.
The tournament will start with the qualifiers tomorrow while the main draw will commence only a day after when besides Saina, P V Sindhu, H S Prannoy, Ajay Jayaram and K Srikanth will take the court with an eye on the World ranking.
Two-time bronze medallist at World Championship, Sindhu, who reached the quarterfinals in the last two events at India and Malaysia, will open her campaign against Thailand’s Busanan Ongbumrungphan.
The 20-year-old from Hyderabad has beaten Busanan six times in the past, including a three-game victory recently in the second round of the India Open Super Series.
In men’s singles, Swiss Open champion Prannoy, who is looking to seal an Olympic berth ahead of the May 3 deadline, will have a towering task of getting across World No. 1 and top seed Chen Long of China in the opening round.
The World No. 22 Indian had lost to the two-time All England and World champion, Long in straight games during the 2014 India Open.
World No. 24 Ajay Jayaram, who is also in fray for an Olympic berth, will face Marc Zwiebler, a couple of weeks after the German ended his India Open campaign in the opening round.
World No. 14 Srikanth, who was ousted in the first round in the last two events, will square off against Chinese Taipei’s Hsu Jen Hao. The Indian has beaten him twice in the last two years at 2014 Denmark Open and 2015 World Championship.
In men’s doubles, newly-crowned national champion duo of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Akshay Dewalkar will face China’s Liu Cheng and Lu Kai.
World No. 15 combo of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will meet Korean Go Ah Ra and Yoo Hae Won in the opening round of the women’s doubles competition.