Indian shuttle queen Saina Nehwal has an uphill task ahead if she wants to qualify for the prestigious World Superseries Finals to be held in Dubai from December 13. The Hong Kong Open Superseries that got underway on Tuesday, presents the last opportunity for all shuttlers to rack up some important points and secure a coveted berth at the season-ending event.
For Saina, who was the runner-up at Superseries Finals in 2011, the job has got doubly harder as she is currently in the 11th place in the Destination Dubai Rankings with 40680 points. She now needs to win the Hong Kong Open this week and hope that the 10th ranked Bingjiao pulls out of the tournament.
In contrast, the young Chinese has all but sealed her place. She is in the seventh position currently and has 47850 points against her name. Her job is way easier with a minimum of a quarter-final finish needed for her to get that Dubai berth.
Nehwal was in the running for a place along with China’s He Bingjiao and needed to outshine the World No. 10 at the China Open to strengthen her position. But her performance there did not go as well as she would have liked. The former champion crashed out in the second round to the eventual champion Akane Yamaguchi, despite leading for much of the opening game.
It gave her only 4320 points while Bingjiao accumulated 6050 points by dint of reaching the quarter-finals where she lost in a thriller to the Olympic champion Carolina Marin.
Nehwal has a tough draw in Hong Kong
Nehwal does not have a hassle-free path in Hong Kong. She has the eighth seeded Chen Yufei as her potential second round opponent with the top-ranked Tai Tzu Ying looming in the quarter-finals.
Suffice to say, the former World No. 1 needs to be at her flawless best if she wants a place among the elite.
That said, the door might still remain ajar for Nehwal if she can push up and grab the ninth spot. World champion Nozomi Okuahara’s fitness is still highly questionable and it is understood that she still needs time to recover completely from the knee injury that she suffered from during the Japan Open in September.
A decent performance in Hong Kong coupled with some help from her peers can thus see Saina through, no matter how difficult it seems in reality.