Malaysia Masters 2019: Preview and schedule of Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth’s quarter-final matches
We are just a few days into the new badminton season and we already have absolute blockbusters lined up in the quarter-finals of the Malaysia Masters 2019 -- a Super 500 tournament going on in Kuala Lumpur this week.
On Friday, seventh seed Saina Nehwal meets the second seed Nozomi Okuhara in a must-watch women’s singles last-eight clash. A short while after Saina’s match, seventh seed Kidambi Srikanth will take on fourth seed Son Wan Ho in yet another thrilling encounter.
Here’s a short preview of the two matches involving Indians:
(7) Saina Nehwal (WR #9) vs (2) Nozomi Okuhara (WR #2)
Head-to-head: Nehwal leads 8-4
Last meeting: Nehwal def Okuhara 10-21, 21-14, 21-17 at the 2018 French Open second round
While Okuhara is the higher-ranked player in this encounter, it is Nehwal who enjoys a lead in their head-to-head record. Saina produced her trademark fighting spirit the last couple of times the two met and staved off some stern challenge from the Japanese for a three-game victory.
Saina can indeed draw a lot of inspiration from those two matches. However, the entire badminton world is acquainted with Okuhara’s tenacity and never-say-die attitude. The relentless Japanese has a penchant for playing three games, something that is evident from the head-to-head record between the two. Their last five meetings all went the distance and it clearly shows how difficult an opponent the former world champion has been, even for Saina.
Nehwal’s fitness and freshness will be tested in this match and Saina has to be prepared to last the distance as Okuhara will bank on her incredible defence to prolong the match, even if she starts slow.
(7) Kidambi Srikanth (WR #8) vs (4) Son Wan Ho (WR #5)
Head-to-head: Son Wan Ho leads 5-4
Last meeting: Son Wan Ho def Srikanth 21-14, 21-18 in the quarter-finals of the 2017 World Championships
This rivalry is as tight as it gets. The Korean barely leads Srikanth 5-4 in this head-to-head between the two former top-ranked players.
It is worth noting that the two haven’t met for more than a year. A lot has happened for the two since then. Srikanth failed to replicate his 2017 heroics the next year and would be hoping to start this season on a positive note.
Son Wan Ho, meanwhile, struggled for most of the 2017 and 2018 seasons until finding his feet towards the end of last year where he won a couple of BWF titles.
However, if one goes by the irrepressible form that Srikanth showed at the recently-concluded Premier Badminton League Season 4, then the Indian is definitely ready to shine again. He remained unbeaten in eight matches and one of his victims was none other than Son Wan Ho.
If the Pullela Gopichand protégé can summon that courage and confidence once again, he can get the better of the Korean just like he did, twice, in the very best season of his career in 2017.
Here’s all the information you need to know about the matches:
Tournament name: Perodua Malaysia Masters 2019
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Category: Super 500
Date: Friday, January 18, 2019
(7) Saina Nehwal vs (2) Nozomi Okuhara at approx 3:50pm local time or 1:20pm IST
(7) Kidambi Srikanth vs (4) Son Wan Ho at approx 5:10pm local time or 2:40pm IST
Channel: Star Sports Select 1 and Star Sports Select 1 HD
Live streaming: hotstar.com