Star shuttler Saina Nehwal has been named as top-seed for the Yonex French Open Badminton Superseries tournament in the absence of the top-three ranked Chinese players – Wang Yihan, Li Xuerui and Wang Xin starting at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Paris on Tuesday.
Nehwal who recently won the Denmark Open Superseries Premier title by defeating Juliane Schenk of Germany in the finals will be playing her second tournament after the London Olympics. She will take on Han Li of China in the opening round on October 24, after the first day will witness qualification rounds. The two have met only once previously, at the Thailand Open in June this year, with the Indian emerging on top against the World No. 22 Chinese.
Nehwal who defeated World No. 1 Wang Yihan of China in the semifinal of Denmark Open is the strongest contender to win the French Open Title. Apart from winning Denmark Open Title Saina has already won Thailand Open, Indonesian Open Superseries Premier, Swiss Open and Bronze medal at the Olympics this year.
The highest-seeded Chinese in the tournament is Wang Shixian, whom the Indian defeated in three games in the Djarum Indonesian Open final, which tired both the shuttlers in the one-hour-and-36-minute marathon and which Saina had termed as the longest match she was involved in. World No. 6 Danish girl to whom Saina defeated in the quarter-final of the Denmark Open, Tine Baun is the third seed of the tournament. Juliane Schenk is seeded 4th for this tournament.
While Saina is the only Indian entrant in the women’s singles, the other Indians in the fray are Ajay Jayaram and Sourabh Varma, both in the men’s singles main draw. Arvind Bhat and Anand Pawar will go through the qualification rounds. While Varma will open his campaign against Indonesian Soni Dwi Kuncoro, Jayaram will open with the fourth qualifier. World No. 5 Indonesian Shuttler Simon Santoso is the top seed in men’s singles category, with World No. 6 Sho Sasaki of Japan is the second seed in the tournament
Tarun Kona and Arun Vishnu will participate in the men’s doubles while Kona and Ashwini Ponnappa have gained direct entry in the mixed doubles main draw. In men’s doubles Kona and Vishnu will be up against the World No 10. and 4th seeded Korean pair of Ki Jung Kim and Sa Rang Kim while in mixed Doubles Ponappa and Kona will face Thai pair of Patiphat and Savitree.