Tough draw for Saina

The 21-year-old Saina, who left for London along with other badminton team members, is drawn to meet fifth seed Tine Baun of Denmark in the quarterfinals before meeting top seed Wang Yihan of China in the semifinals.

Published: 24th July 2012 09:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th July 2012 09:41 AM   |  A+A-

Fourth seed Sa­­ina Nehwal, who is India’s br­­­ightest medal prospect, is pl­­aced  in Group ‘E’ of the wo­men’s singles draw of the 2012 Olympics. The draws we­­­­­re conducted in London on Monday. The 21-year-old Saina, who left for London via New Delhi on Monday evening along with other ba­­dminton team members, is dr­­awn to meet fifth seed Tine Ba­un of Denmark in the qu­­a­­­­rterfinals before meeting top seed Wang Yihan of Chin­­a in the semifinals.

Saina has to play Sabrina Jaquet of Switzerland and Lianne Tan in her group. The winner of Group ‘E’ meets winner of Group ‘F’ in the round of 16. Group ‘F’ has 14th seed Yao Jie (Netherl­­a­n­ds), Ragna Ingolfdottir and A­kvil Stapusaityte.  Saina, in al­­l probability, will clash with Jie, who is expected to top he­r group before a possible cl­­­­ash with Baun or Sayaka Sa­­to (Japan) in the last-eight stage. 

Coach Pullela Gopichand sa­­id the draw was a challengi­­ng one for Saina. “ But she h­­as prepared well and we ex­­p­­ect her to perform well in t­­he Olympics,’’ said Go­­p­­ichand.

Saina exuded confidence. “I have worked hard in the la­­st few weeks. I’m ready for the Olympics,’’ said Saina be­­f­­­­ore departing for the big event.  She said she was ha­­p­­p­­­­y with the draw too. “I ha­­v­­e to play my natural game,’’ she added.

 Second seed Wang Xin and third seed Li Xuerui, both of China, are in the bottom half of the draw.

In the men’s singles, Parupalli Kashyap is in Group ‘D’ which has 10th seed Nguyen Tien Minh (Vietnam) and Tan Yuhan of Belgium. The winner of Group ‘D’ takes on Group ‘C’ which has eighth se­­ed Kenichi Tago (Japan) and Niluka Karunrathna (Sri Lanka). Lee Chong Wei is the top seed and is in Group A wh­ile second seed Lin Dan is in Group P and is in the bott­om half of the draw.

Left-hander Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who won bronze in the World Ch­­a­mpionship at the same ve­n­ue last year, are in tough Group ‘B’ which has fourth seeds Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa (Japan), Cheng Wen Hsing/Chien Yu Chin (Chin­e­se Taipei) and Shinta Sari Mulia/Yao Lei (Singapore). Incidentally, all the doubles pair are ranked above Jwala and Ashwini in the world rankings. The Indian pair are presently ranked 20th in the world while the Chinese Taip­­­e­i and Singapore pairs are 10th and 13th ranked players in the world. In doubles, the top two of each group will qualify for the quarterfinals.

The Indian mixed doubles pair of V Diju and Jwala are drawn in Group C along with third seeds Tontowi Ahmad & Liliyana Natsir (Indonesia), Thonas Laybourn (Denmark) & Kamillla Rytter Juhl and Lee Yong Dae & Ha Jung Eun (Korea).

It was a low key send-off for the team. The badminton ma­­t­­ches will start on July 28.


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