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US Open Badminton: Second seed Saina Nehwal pulls out of tournament

19 Jul 2017, 09:28 IST
The reasons for her withdrawal are still unknown

India’s title hopes received a big blow as the former World No. 1 Saina Nehwal has pulled out of this week’s $120,000 US Open to be staged at Anaheim, California from July 19-23. Saina was seeded second and was slated to begin her campaign against Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour.

While the exact cause of her pull-out has not yet been known, sources close to Sportskeeda have confirmed that the former Olympic medalist will not take part in the US Open. Saina, who has not been a regular at this Grand Prix Gold event, was expected to play after her early exits in her past few tournaments this season. The 27-year-old, who underwent knee surgery in 2016, has struggled for consistency and has failed to reach a final since winning the Malaysia Masters in January.

With the World Championships scheduled to be held next month, the London Olympic bronze medallist has perhaps eventually decided to let it go in favour of fitness training. Saina’s absence will indeed take a lot of sheen away from the tournament. Nevertheless, India still can look forward to winning a title here.

Also read: Stats: Which country has the most singles players combined in the BWF World Rankings Top 100?

Prannoy eyes first title of the season

The men’s singles section looks to be the best bet with the likes of HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap as well as Sameer Verma being there in the draw.

Prannoy is seeded second and takes on the 107th ranked Austrian Luka Wraber. After succumbing to a shocking pre-quarter-final loss at the Canada Open last week, the World No. 23 gets a chance at redemption.

Sameer Verma, who began the 2017 season with the Syed Modi International title, is one to watch out for even though this will be his first tournament in three months due to a shoulder injury. The World No. 32 had originally planned his return at last week’s Canada Open but was deprived of the opportunity as he was not granted a visa on time.  

He has a relatively easy opener against Vietnam’s Hoang Nam Nguyen.

Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap has a tough task as he faces the top seed Lee Hyun II in the opener.


Talented youngsters in women’s singles

In the absence of Nehwal, the Indian charge in women’s singles will be led by some of the most talented youngsters, who will hope to take this opportunity and shine. National champion Rituparna Das, Russian Open winner Ruthvika Shivani Gadde, Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli, Reshma Karthik and Sai Uttejitha Rao Chukka will look to make an impact.

Also read: Cricket or Badminton - where have India won more major titles in 2017?

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