Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth look to continue their good run in Malaysia Open
Kuala Lumpur, March 31 (IANS)
Fresh from victories in the Indian Open, leading Indian shuttlers Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth will look to continue their impressive run at the $500,000 Malaysia Open Superseries Premier at the Putra Stadium here.
Appearance in the final of the All England Championships, followed by victory in India Open have catapulted World No.2 Saina to the top of the women's world rankings. She is assured of the top rank when the Badminton World Federation (BWF) releases its latest rankings on Thursday.
Olympic bronze medallist Saina is seeded third in the tournament and will start her campaign against Indonesian Maria Febe Kudumastuti on Wednesday. Saina is looking hungry and the way she defeated former world champion Ratchanok Intanon in the Indian Open final, proved that she is in top shape.
However, the campaign will once again be difficult considering one of the Olympic champions, Li Xuerui, or former No.1 Yihan Wang will be her semi-final opponents. If Saina has to reach the final, the 25-year-old will have to beat one of the formidable Chinese.
Reigning world champion Carolina Marin and No.3 Shixian Wang are in the other half of the draw.
Srikanth, meanwhile, is ranked fourth and is coming off a victorious campaign in New Delhi. After exiting the All England Championships in the first round, the 22-year-old brought his campaign back on track in New Delhi.
The fourth seed will open his campaign against Englishman Rajiv Ouseph. Reigning world champion Chen Long and No.3 Jan O Jorgensen have been seeded first and second respectively. Five-time world champion Lin Dan has been handed a fifth seeding.
Other Indian challengers include Parupalli Kashyap and H.S. Prannoy. While No.13 Kashyap faces South Korean Lee Dong Keun in the first round, No.17 Prannoy takes on Frenchman Brice Leverdez.
The men's singles title will see a new champion as seven-time defending champion and local hero Lee Chong Wei is out facing a maximum two-year ban after testing positive for banned substance dexamethasone at the 2014 World Championships in Copenhagen.
The 32-year-old's doping case will be heard on April 11 by a BWF panel. The spirits of the local supporters will definitely be dampened by the absence of the suspended former World No.1 and the two-time Olympic silver medallist.
In the women's doubles category, 2011 World Championships bronze medallist Indian pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa will face the Indonesian pair of Keshya Nurvita Hanadia and Devi Tika Permatasari in the opening round on Wednesday.
Indian men's doubles pair of Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy will take on Indonesian team of Andrei Adistia and Hendra Aprida Gunawan in the first round.