Indonesia Masters Badminton 2020: Saina Nehwal-PV Sindhu encounter likely in Round 2
Both PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal gave impressive performances but failed to make it past the quarterfinals at the Super 500 tournament in Malaysia. They will be gunning for glory at the tournament in Jakarta and hope to get their first win of the season.
Saina Nehwal is the current title-holder. She triumphed at the 2019 Indonesia Masters after Carolina Marin retired in the final due to an injury. Meanwhile, PV Sindhu had reached the quarterfinal at the 2019 edition.
What does Round 1 have in store?
2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina and 2016 Olympics Silver medallist PV Sindhu have both been handed relatively easy draws in Round 1 of the 2020 Indonesia Masters. The two are in good form and their performance was admirable in the recently concluded Malaysia Masters.
Sindhu will be squaring off against Japan's Aya Ohori in her Round 1 match. The ace Indian shuttler holds a fantastic 9-0 head-to-head record against Ohori. Current World Number 6 Sindhu handed the Japanese a straight-set 21-15, 21-13 defeat the last time they met in Round 2 of Malaysia Masters 2020. The 24-year-old Hyderabadi clearly has the upper hand against Ohori and is expected to ease her way to Round 2.
Meanwhile, Saina Nehwal is set to lock horns against current World Number 14 Sayaka Takahashi in her Round 1 fixture. The two have met on 6 occasions previously with Saina winning 4 encounters and Sayaka emerging victorious twice.
However, the ace Japanese shuttler has won the last two encounters between the two which would give her a little psychological boost. Saina lost to Sayaka at the Denmark Open and the Thailand Open in 2019. Regardless, the Indian is the favourite to win the match considering the form she is in.
What happens if both Indians win their Round 1 matches?
The draws are such that if Sindhu and Saina clear their first test then they are going to meet in Round 2 of the US$400,000 prize money tournament. Fireworks are on the cards in case this transpires.
A face-off between the two ace Indian shuttlers is always intense. 24-year-old Sindhu will look to recover quickly from her 16-21 16-21 loss to nemesis - Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying - at Malaysia Masters and grab her first tournament win of the season.
Spaniard Carolina Marin had knocked out Saina Nehwal at the Malaysia Masters by thrashing her 21-8, 21-7 in the quarterfinal. The experienced Indian will have to digest the heavy defeat and focus her energies on the task at hand to get her rhythm back.
Saina boasts of a good head-to-head record against fifth seed PV Sindhu. She has won three matches and lost one against her younger compatriot at the International stage. However, Sindhu has defeated the London Olympics Gold Medalist in the Premier Badminton League on a few occasions.
The defending World Champion PV Sindhu is India's best medal hope at the Tokyo Olympics while Saina is giving it her all in order to make the cut for the quadrennial extravaganza.
Their last international meeting was the 2018 Commonwealth Games final where Saina won 23-21, 21-18 in a well-contested duel to bag the gold medal. Saina had also defeated Sindhu 21-18, 21-15 to clinch her fourth Senior National Badminton Championship title in February last year.
Sindhu and Saina are fierce rivals on court and the atmosphere is always electric when they play against each other. However, in case they were to meet in Round 2 of the Super 500 Tournament in Indonesia, only one of them would remain in contention for the title. Brace yourselves for another clash between the former World Number 1 and PV Sindhu.
Other Indians in the fray at the Indonesia Masters
Plenty of Indians are also in contention in other categories at the annual tournament. Kidambi Srikanth will face off against Indonesia's Shesar Hiren Rhustavito in his Round 1 clash. Sourabh Verma will be battling China's Lu Guang Zu in his opening match.
Parupalli Kashyap is set up against 7th seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting while Sameer Verma plays veteran Tommy Sugiarto in their respective Round 1 matches. Furthermore, HS Prannoy will lock horns with local star and 6th seed Jonatan Christie while World Championships bronze medallist B Sai Praneeth will face Shi Yu Qi of China.
The Men's doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who suffered a disappointing Round 1 exit in Malaysia Masters, will kickstart their campaign with a clash against 2nd seeded Indonesian duo of Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan.
Finally, the mixed doubles pair of Pranaav Jerry Chopra and N Sikki Reddy will face South Korean pair of Ko Sung Hyun and Eom Hye Won, who qualified for the main draw after winning their qualifier.Published 14 Jan 2020, 16:10 IST