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Spotlight on Saina in crucial London show

other Updated: Aug 08, 2011 02:54 IST
Anamika Nandedkar

All eyes will be on Saina Nehwal who will look to put an end to a string of below-par performances and make an impression at the badminton World Championships which begins Monday at the Wembley Arena in London.

Seeded sixth in the championships, Saina has a tricky draw but chief national coach Pullela Gopi Chand sounded confidence about the shuttler's chances. "She has been training well for the past one month and has worked on certain areas which had held her back," he said.

China's fearsome quartet - Wang Shixian, Wang Yihan, Wang Xin and Jian Yanjiao - are firm favourites but Thai teen sensation Ratchanok Inthanon has a knack of pulling off upsets.

With a year to go for the Olympic Games, the event will be a reflection of who-stands-where. Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will contest the women's doubles. The focus though will be on Jwala and V Diju, the mixed doubles pair, who are playing together after three months with Diju making a comeback from an injury. It will be interesting to see how far the duo can go with zero match practice.

Ajay Jayaram in men's singles and Pranav Chopra in doubles are making their championship debut. P Kashayp, who has been in decent form, is not expected to face glitches in the first round.

Lin v Lee
China's three-time champion Lin Dan, World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and defending champion Chen Jin, also from China, will be the favourites for the men's title. Denmark's Peter Gade and Indonesia's Taufik Hidayat are two experienced names whose presences will have an impact in the championship race.