All England Open: Saina, Sindhu to lead Indian challenge

Saina Nehwal was a step away from clinching the All England trophy in 2015; she'd want to go all the way, this time. P. V. Sindhu, meanwhile, will be keen to erase the memory of a first round exit in the last edition.

Full fit after a knee injury that had broken her Rio Olympics dream, Saina Nehwal will be eager to dish out her best performance at the Barclaycard Arena.   -  PTI

Olympic medallists Saina Nehwal and P. V. Sindhu will look to become the third Indian to lay their hands on the prestigious All England trophy with the qualifiers starting on Tuesday.

Ever since Pullela Gopichand, in 2001, emulated Prakash Padukone's 1980 feat, no Indian has held the crown. Saina came close when she reached the final at 2015 but went down to Olympic champion Carolina Marin.

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Full fit after a knee injury that had broken her Rio Olympics dream, Saina will be eager to dish out her best performance at the Barclaycard Arena.

On the other hand, Sindhu, who became the toast of the nation after her historic silver medal at the Rio Olympics, will be keen to erase the memory of a first round exit in the last edition.

Both Saina and Sindhu have made a resounding start to the new season with titles at Malaysia Masters and Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold tournaments, respectively. They would look to make a positive start to the Super Series circuit, which also includes events in India, Malaysia and Singapore.

Eighth seeded Saina will face the defending champion -- Japan's Nozomi Okuhara --who is nursing a 
shoulder injury. She last played in November where she withdrew half-way through her first round encounter.

"I was the runner-up in 2015 All England Championship but facing Carolina (Marin) was a very big task. She overpowered me and won the title. I am fine and well-trained now so I am ready to face my opponents," World No. 10 Saina said.

Sixth seed Sindhu will face Denmark's Mette Poulsen in the opening round and is likely to meet world No. 1 and top seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei at the quarterfinals.

"I consider the All England like any normal Super Series tournament. As a player, I would be playing the same players whom I play in other Super Series matches tournaments, so it is the same for me, and I would look to do well," Sindhu said.

In men's singles, Rio Olympics quarterfinalist Kidambi Srikanth, who is on a comeback trail after recovering from an ankle injury, will look to put his best foot forward after a pre-quarterfinal finish at the German Open last week.

Also competing at the world's oldest badminton tournament will be Swiss Open champion H. S. Prannoy and two-time Dutch Open winner Ajay Jayaram in men's singles event.

Prannoy will face China's Qiao Bin and Jayaram will take on China's Huang Yuxiang, while Srikanth will square off against a qualifier in the opening round.

World No. 13 pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N. Sikki Reddy will face Korean combination of Yoo Yeon Seong and Kim Ha Na, while Rio Olympians Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will take on a qualifying pair.

Women's doubles pair of Jakkampudi Meghana and Poorvisha S Ram will meet Chinese Taipei combo of Hsu Ya Ching and Wu Ti Jung. 

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