Keeping herself alive in the BWF World Tour Super 300 Barcelona Spain Masters, India’s Saina Nehwal defeated Germany’s Yvonne Li 21-16, 21-14 in her first round match to progress into the pre-quarterfinal stage.
On Thursday, February 20, the former Olympic Bronze medalist will face Ukraine’s Maria Ulitina. The latter had an easy victory of her own against USA’s Isabel Zhong 21-16, 21-16. Ulitina would go into this match as the underdog. Ranked 101 in the world, it would be to her credit even if she is able to stretch Nehwal to a three-game match.
Saina, on the other hand, is in a do-or-die situation. Her hopes of qualifying for the Olympics are fading away fast and a win in this tournament is of the utmost importance. For qualifying in the women’s singles draw, Saina needs to be at least in the top 38 of the qualification rankings. At the moment, she is not.
Luckily for her, this tournament doesn’t feature more than two big names. In fact, due to withdrawals, she and Olympic Champion Marin, along with two players from Thailand are the only seeded players left in the draw. If Saina plays to her potential, she should easily make her way to the final and face Marin.
Beating the three-time World Champion on her home court would require a huge upset. But stranger things have happened. So, there is still hope. The fact that Saina has started with a comfortable win is good. But this was only the first round and the second-round match would give us a better idea about her form.
Head to Head
These two players have played just one match against each other. However, contrary to what you would expect, that match was won by the Ukrainian. At her best, Ulitina was ranked 47 in the world while Saina is a former world no. 1. Yet, presently, there is no certainty that the Indian lady would come out on top.
Tournament: Barcelona Spain Masters 2020
Category: BWF World Tour Super 300
Venue: Vall d'Hebron Olympic Sports Centre, Barcelona, Spain
Match Timings: The match between Saina Nehwal and Maria Ulitina is listed to start at, around 6:00 PM IST. However, since the length of preceding matches can’t be accurately predicted, the timing is a tentative one.
Where to watch the match in India?
Star Sports holds the rights to telecast BWF World Tour tournaments in India. The telecast of this event, due to it being a Super 300 one, will only begin with the semi-final stage that takes place on Saturday, February 22. The matches will be live on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD.
Point by point updates on Saina’s matches and other games will be available here.