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Ashwini Ponnappa eyes podium at World Badminton Championships in Glasgow

Ashwini Ponnappa, who has fond memories of Glasgow, having won silver in the women’s doubles at the 2014 Commonwealth Games with partner Jwala Gutta, will begin her BWF World Badminton Championships campaign in the mixed doubles Monday, partnering Sumeeth Reddy

other sports Updated: Aug 21, 2017 13:42 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
BWF World Badminton Championships,World Badminton Championships,Ashwini Ponnappa
The duo of B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa is the premier pairing for Indian in the mixed doubles segment at the BWF World Badminton Championships in Glasgow(Getty Images)

While the Indian singles superstars -- PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth -- spearhead the country’s challenge at the BWF World Badminton Championships which begins in Glasgow on Monday, doubles specialist Ashwini Ponnappa is also confident of reaching the podium.

Ponnappa, who has fond memories of Glasgow, having won silver in the women’s doubles at the 2014 Commonwealth Games with partner Jwala Gutta, will begin her campaign in the mixed doubles Monday, partnering Sumeeth Reddy. She will play in the women’s doubles opener, with N Sikki Reddy as partner, on Tuesday.

Ponnappa, who clinched bronze in the 2011 World Championships with Gutta, could only depart for Scotland on August 18, following a logistical delay. But she insists she’s happy with her preparations and is eyeing the podium.

Speaking to DNA before her departure, the shuttler said: “Our draw is a tough one. We have some tough opponents.”

Ponnappa, despite the fact that she would be missing her long-time, experienced parter Gutta, is exuding confidence.

“Having said that, it is the World Championships (so the draw would be tough). If you are in the right zone, the mindset is entirely different. If we play really well, anything can happen. We could even win a medal. It just depends on how your game goes that day. You are not playing the beginners in the Worlds. You are playing the world’s best players.”

Quest for gold

India will be looking to win the elusive gold at the BWF World Championships, with Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu leading the charge of their biggest contingent till date. Srikanth will begin his campaigns on Monday.

Sindhu is the most successful campaigner so far, having won bronze in the 2013 and 2014 editions, and Saina had gone one better to win the silver in 2015. But Srikanth is the man in form, and is on an unbeaten streak of 10 matches, and has two Superseries titles wins this year, besides a silver at the Singapore Open Superseries, losing to B Sai Praneeth in the final.

He starts his campaign against the unseeded Sergey Serant on Monday and shouldn’t face any trouble going through to the next round.

Sindhu and Saina have been given first -round byes. 

Sindhu, the Rio Olympics silver medallist, will open her campaign against the winner of the match between South Korea’s Kim Hyo Min and Egypt’s Hadia Hosny in the second round and is likely to meet China’s Sun Yu for a place in the quarterfinals.

Sindhu would want to notch up a better show, given her recent form. Since her victory in the India Open in April, Sindhu hasn’t had a medal-winning campaign.

Saina will take on the winner of the match between Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet and Ukraine’s Natalya Voytsekh in the second round.

Sameer back from injury

Sameer Verma will clash against another unseeded Pablo Albian in his tournament opener on Monday. It should be an easy draw for Verma, who won the Syed Modi International Grand Prix earlier this year.

But it’s to be seen how well he performs after suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined him for quite some time. He was handed a direct entry into the tournament after the exclusion of a few Chinese Taipei players, who opted to compete at the World University Games.

In the women’s singles, Rituparna Das will take on Airi Mikkela while Tanvi Lad takes on Chloe Birch on Monday, while Saina has received a bye for the first round.

The doubles segment would see Manu Attri and Sumeeth Reddy lock horns against Chung Eui Seok and Kim Dukyong in the men’s event while the women’s campaign would start with Sanjana Santosh and Arathi Sara Sunil taking on Natalya Voytsekh and Yelyzaveta Zharka.

First Published: Aug 21, 2017 13:42 IST