INDIA'S LEADING SHUTTLERS gear up for the Hong Kong Open without World No. 2 and second seed Saina Nehwal with the first round beginning Wednesday.
Saina withdrew at the last moment due to an injury. While playing in the final against Li Xuerui in the China Open final, she felt pain in her knees due to which she had to withdraw. Her father Harvir Singh confirmed the news.
"She was having some pain and could not move properly against Li in the final on Sunday. After the final, she could not even walk properly. Saina and her coach Vimal Kumar requested Badminton Association of India (BAI) to withdraw her entry from the tournament. Her name was there in the draw but they have withdrawn it today (Monday). She will come back to Hyderabad soon," as told to The Times of India.
The pressure now falls on PV Sindhu, the only Indian shuttler in the women's category who faces an uphill task in the first round against top seed Carolina Marin from Spain. Sindhu's last encounter with Marin came in the Denmark Open semi-final where the latter was defeated in three sets. Sindhu will definitely have an upper hand, but the top seed is nevertheless an extremely tough opponent.
Sixth seed Kidambi Srikanth will start against Tian Houwei. Although Srikanth is ranked five places higher than the Chinese at No.5, he has a dismal 0-4 head-to-head record against Tian. His current performance has not been up to the mark which may affect his ranking and qualification for tournaments in the future.
Ajay Jayaram has yet again been pitted against top seed Chen Long of China. They met each other in the first round of the recently concluded China Open in which the Chinese had an easy win.
HS Prannoy will face Kenta Nishimoto in the first round. Prannoy lost in the first round after going down fighting against Gou Kai from China.
The only pair in the doubles category representing India is Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa who will also have a tough first round outing against eighth seed Korean duo Jung Kyung Eun and Shin Seung Chan.