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Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu: Head-to-head, preview and schedule of the blockbuster India Open 2017 quarter-final

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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31 Mar 2017, 01:42 IST
Saina Nehwal PV Sindhu
Sain Nehwala and PV Sindhu are set for an epic clash

Competition: BWF Metlife Yonex Sunrise India Open Superseries 2017

Venue: Siri Fort Indoor Stadium, New Delhi

Category: Superseries

Date: Friday, March 31, 2017

Round: Quarter-finals

Time: (6) Saina Nehwal vs (3) PV Sindhu around 4.30-5pm IST

Channel: Star Sports 2 and Star Sports HD2

Live streaming: Star Sports Hotstar

Preview

(6) Saina Nehwal (BWF World Rank: 8) vs (3) PV Sindhu (BWF World Rank: 5)

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Head-to-head: Nehwal leads 1-0

This was the match that all eyes were on ever since the women’s singles draw was announced. More than three years after crossing swords right at home at the India Grand Prix Gold final, India’s top two shuttle queens are meeting again at an international competition. In 2014, Saina won that clash and that too, in straight games.

Sindhu was just 18 then and very much a fledgeling talent. Even though she had already won a World Championships bronze medal by that time, her game wasn’t fully rounded by then. Consistency was the biggest area in which she was lacking.

Saina, in contrast, being the senior stateswoman, was already a permanent figure among the sport’s elite and had the experience and maturity to win big titles.

Three years on, it is a completely different picture now.

Sindhu is the one ranked higher now and bubbling with confidence at the moment. The Rio Olympic silver medal did wonders to her game, her motivation level and made her far more consistent than before. Saina, on the other hand, is still making her way back from a knee surgery that she underwent in September. The former World No. 1 self-admittedly still hasn’t reached her peak level even though she did start the 2017 season with a title at the Malaysia Masters.

That said, with every match, Saina is improving. Her fitness and movement are notches higher than what they were at the beginning of the year when she faced Sindhu at the Premier Badminton League. The London Olympic bronze medallist did make it a close battle but didn’t have the strength or the power to finish it off and ultimately lost it, 7-11, 8-11.

Sindhu went on to guide her team, the Chennai Smashers to the PBL crown and then added the Syed Modi International title to her kitty right after that. 

At the All England Championships, both of them made it to the quarter-finals. While Sindhu could not provide much resistance to the World No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying, Saina looked extremely competitive in her tight two-game loss to the 3rd ranked Sung Ji Hyun.

If anything, that match itself gives a clear indication of how far Saina has progressed both physically and mentally on her road to recovery since her surgery.

Sindhu has a slight edge in this match given her exploits in the past few months but Saina can never be counted out. Time and again, she has proved that she is one of the greatest fighters out there and this time too, there will be no exception.

Note: The day’s other match of Indian interest is the men’s singles quarter-final between the 38th ranked Sameer Verma and World No. 26 Anders Antonsen of Denmark. This will be their first meeting. That match is scheduled to start right after the Saina Nehwal vs PV Sindhu quarter-final.

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