With both confirming their participation in the Indian Open World Super Series badminton tournament beginning here in the capital from Tuesday, aficionados of the game are eagerly looking ahead to a mouth-watering contest.
As per the fixtures of the tournament that carries a total prize money of $ 325,000, the Saina-Sindhu contest is expected to be held during the quarterfinals.
Saina, seeded sixth in the event, will face Chia Hsin Lee of Chinese Taipei in her opening match, while Sindhu, seeded third, will face Xiaoyu Liang, a China-born Singapore player, in her first match of the event.
Going by the current global rankings, Sindhu, ranked fifth, has a slight edge over Saina, who is ninth in the world. That’s theory.
Practically, it’s yet to be seen who is better. Both were supposed to come face-to-face in the semifinals of recently concluded All England Open Badminton Championships, but crashed out in the quarterfinals, denying Indian fans something to cheer about.
Last time when Sindhu and Saina met, it was during the Premier Badminton League. Then Sindhu had an upper hand. Way back in 2013 during THE Syed Modi International Grand Prix, it was Saina who dominated. Sindhu was still growing. The current situation is quite different. Both have immense international experience.
The Sindhu-Saina clash is keenly followed by critics as both represent different schools of thought. Sindhu is currently under the tutelage of chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, while Saina is being trained by her Vimal Kumar, a former badminton player.
Saina has been limping back from a knee injury she had sustained in 2016, but her overall performance at All England was a good reflection of her fitness. The scoreline of 20-22, 20-22 against World No 3 Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea indicated she was inching back to fitness.
Olympic champion in fray
Rio Olympic Games champion Carolina Marin of Spain has also confirmed her participation. Besides aiming for a good run at the Indian Open, the Spanish shuttler, who is also La Liga ambassador, will be busy marketing Spanish football in India.
At All England, she too failed go beyond the quarterfinals, losing to Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon, the former world champion.
In the upcoming Indian Open tournament, Marin is ranked number one and will take on Kim Hyo Min of South Korea in her opening match. Since she is known for her perseverance, the world number four will be one to watch out for.