Top seeds Saina, Jwala-Diju India's best bets in ABC
Top seed Saina Nehwal is on her guard against a tricky draw but mixed doubles player V Diju is aiming for at least the quarterfinals of the Asian Badminton Championship starting tomorrow at the newly-built Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi.india Updated: Apr 12, 2010 15:20 IST
Top seed Saina Nehwal is on her guard against a tricky draw but mixed doubles player V Diju is aiming for at least the quarterfinals of the Asian Badminton Championship starting on Monday at the newly-built Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi.
Currently ranked sixth in the world, Saina has been been given the top billing in women's singles in the absence of Chinese players who occupy the top five places in world rankings but the Hyderabadi is in no mood to relax.
"It is not an easy draw. There are some Thai players who are good, also Zhou Mi is there. I am playing Porntip in the first round and I have lost against her in the past. Ofcourse I am a different player now," Saina said.
"I know a lot of top Chinese players are not coming for this tournament. But it's ok, their absence doesn't bother me. I am no more afraid of Chinese shuttlers.
"I had a very good training session and my decision of skipping some tournaments is helping me to be at the peak of my game. I am able to work on my weaknesses and become stronger each day," she added.
India also have another top seed in the mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Diju and the latter is confident of reaching the quarters at least.
"I have seen the draw and I feel looking at it, we should reach the quarters at least. We in all probability will meet a Chinese pair there and from there on it will be tough," he said.
Besides Indians, the ABC will see former Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia renewing his rivalry with reigning Olympic and three-time world champion Lin Dan of China.
National coach Pullela Gopichand feels India's mixed doubles pair would be India's best bet in the ABC and overall the draw is quite fair.
"Jwala-Diju have a good chance to win this one. If Diju plays to his true potential, they should be on a roll. They are India's best chances in the ABC," Gopichand said.
In absence of Chetan Anand, who pulled out at the last minute because of a knee injury, the men's singles charge will be led by 13th seed R Kashyap and 16th seed Aravind Bhat, besides Anup Sridhar.
Gopichand feels although Chetan's pullout is a setback, India have players like Arvind Bhat and Anup Sridhar who can reach the quarters at least.