Even though she entered the match as the favourite, India's Saina Nehwal had a score to settle with Maria Ulitina of Ukraine in her second-round match at the ongoing BWF World Tour Super 300 Barcelona Spain Masters.
In the only meeting that these two players had in a match before this clash, the Ukrainian had come out on top. But this time, Saina ensured that she played up to her reputation as the former World No.1 and Olympic medalist, and earned an easy victory in straight games 21-10, 21-19.
Now, the Indian star moves to the quarterfinals of this low-profile but very important event, at least for her, and is scheduled to face Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand on Friday, February 21.
Busanan, in her second-round match, got the better of Danish player Julie Dawall Jakobsen in a very one-sided match with the scoreline 21-9, 21-11. Now, the real test begins for Nehwal.
So far, her performance has been good but she has been facing very light opponents. Ongbamrungphan, on the other hand, is among the four seeded players that were left in the main draw after several withdrawals and came in as third-seed.
This actually makes her the favourite in the match against Saina as the latter’s seeding is fifth. Even in terms of their reputation and long-term performances, Busanan belongs to the same category of mid-level players who are there or thereabouts in the final rounds of major tournaments but are not regarded as top contenders.
This match would be of great importance for the Indian shuttler. If she can win this contest, it would prove that she is clearly recovering her form. However, if she loses, it’s back to square one or, worse, possible clinching evidence that her career is coming to an end.
Head to head records
These two shuttlers have played each other five times before. Saina has a slight edge with three victories as opposed to two losses. Busanan is the second best player from Thailand after former World Champion Ratchanok Intanon. Needless to say, either of them could emerge victoriously.
Tournament: Barcelona Spain Masters 2020
Category: BWF World Tour Super 300
Venue: Vall d'Hebron Olympic Sports Centre, Barcelona, Spain
Match Timings: The match will be played on Vall d'Hebron 1 or court 1 of the arena and is listed as the third contest of the day on that surface. The first match would begin at 7:30 PM IST. Therefore, Saina’s match is likely to start around 9:30 PM IST.
Where to watch the match in India?
Due to this tournament being a Super 300 event, live coverage would begin only from the semi-final stage. If Saina wins, then she could be seen live on television and online as Star Sports hold the rights for the telecast of BWF events.
Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD are the channels that will broadcast the matches on TV while Hotstar would stream them live online in India.Published 21 Feb 2020, 01:20 IST