The performance of the Indian shuttlers in the recently concluded Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open 2018, was below par. With Saina Nehwal pulling out at the last moment, the onus was on PV Sindhu (women's singles) and K Srikant (men's singles). But Sindhu crashed out in the second round. Srikant could also progress, as far as the quarterfinals only. The other Indian shuttlers also lost out in the initial rounds.
The badminton fans of India will now be hoping, that the India badminton stars will pull up their socks, and perform better in the next big event of the year - the Victor China Open 2018, which is scheduled to begin from 18th September 2018.
In this year's China Open, which is a Super 1000 tournament, all the big stars of the game will be participating.
In the women's singles draw, world number 1, Tai Tzu Ying will be the favourite. However the reigning World champion Carolina Marin, who won the Japan Open last week is also in great form. The other main contenders for the women's title are Chen Yufei, PV Sindhu and the defending champion, Akane Yamaguchi, .
India's Hopes in the Tournament
All the top Indian players are also participating in this year's China Open. The golden girls of Indian badminton, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal, will again be the top bets for India in the tournament. Both of them have won this tournament before. Saina won it in 2014 while Sindhu came out victorious in the 2016 edition.
If they can replicate their previous performance in this edition also, then both of them will have a very good chance of winning the tournament.
However, in the women's singles event, it is a very even field, with more than half a dozen players, having the capability of winning the tournament.
The Women's Singles Draw: A Potential Saina vs Sindhu Quarterfinal
The draw of this mega event has already been announced. Both the Indian stars, Sindhu and Saina are in the same half of the draw. If they can win their first two rounds, then a potential Sindhu vs Saina quarterfinal is on the cards.
PV Sindhu, who is seeded number 3 in the tournament, will begin her campaign against the unseeded Japanese, Saema Kawakami. Sindhu is the obvious favourite to win the match.
If Sindhu wins her first round, then in the next round, she has to face either Busanan Ongbamrungphan of Thailand or Baetriz Corrales of Spain. Both these players are seasoned campaigners and on their day, they can beat anybody in the world. So this potential second-round match will not be easy for Sindhu.
But if Sindhu plays according to her potential, then she should come out as the winner and reach the quarterfinals.
Saina Nehwal, on the other hand, is unseeded in the tournament. As a result, she has a very tough draw.
Her very first opponent, is the world number nine, Sung Ji Hyun of South Korea. This will be a very tough first round match for Saina. However, her head to head record against Sung has been good over the years. Hence if Saina plays well, she has a very good chance of winning.
If Saina goes past Sung Ji Hyun, then in the second round, she is most likely to face World number five, Chen Yufei of China. Chen Yufei is one of the favourites to win the tournament, in front of her home crowd. So in this match, Saina will definitely start as the underdog. However with her experience and never say die spirit, Saina can definitely get the better of her higher-ranked opponent if she plays well. If Saina is able to cross Chen Yufei's hurdle and reach the quarters, then a potential Saina-Sindhu quarter-final is on the cards. Although Saina's road to the quarters is very tough, she can definitely reach there, if she plays well.
Who is the favourite in the potential Saina vs Sindhu clash
If the Indian girls do have a face-off in the quarters, then it will be a treat for all the badminton lovers in India. Sindhu is presently the higher-ranked of the two. However, Saina has a better head-to-head record against her Indian counterpart. In their most recent face-off, in the Commonwealth Games final also, Saina came out on top.
It will be very difficult to predict a winner in a Saina vs Sindhu clash, but one can be rest assured, that it will not be a one-sided affair. Both the players will throw at each other, whatever they have, in order to come out victorious.
All the Indian badminton fans will hope to see this mouthwatering clash, between the golden girls of Indian badminton, in this week's China Open.Published 18 Sep 2018, 06:57 IST