Olympics: Good draw for Saina raises medal hopes
Saina Nehwal's chances at grabbing an Olympic medal today got brighter after the ace Indian shuttler was handed a relatively easy draw till the quarterfinals.
According to the draw released today, fourth seed Saina has been clubbed with Swiss World No 65 Sabrina Jaquet and Belgian World No 55 Lianne Tan in Group E. The Hyderabadi has never played both the shuttlers before but is the clear favourite to advance from the group.
Should Saina advance, she is likely to face 14th-seeded Dutch Yao Jie in the pre-quarters provided the Chinese-origin shuttler emerges the leader in her group. Saina leads Yao Jie 3-2 in career meetings and hasn’t lost to her since 2009.
The Indian’s actual test at the Olympics will come only in the quarters where she may run into fifth seed and two-time All England champion Tine Baun of Denmark.
Saina and Kashyap have lots to smile about the draw, but Jwala has been handed tough draws in both women’s and mixed doubles. AFP
Baun, however, hasn’t been in best of form this year, losing the last two meetings against Saina.
If the Indonesia Super Series Premier winner manages to get past the last-eight stage, she may come face-to-face with her first Chinese opponent – top seed and world champion Wang Yihan.
Saina came close to beating her 2006 junior world championship nemesis in last year’s Indonesia Super Series and should look confident of registering her maiden victory over big-favourite Chinese if they square up in the semifinals.
Kashyap gets decent draw
While Saina was handed a good draw, fellow P Gopi Chand trainee P Kashyap would look to at least make it to the knock out stage on his Olympic debut.
The 23rd-ranked Indian has been clubbed with Vietnam’s Tien Minh Nguyen and Yuhan Tan of Belgium. Kashyap has beaten 10th-seeded Nguyen twice in the past and has the game to spring a surprise again.
Doubles stars have it tough
The doubles stars, however, enjoyed no such luck with the draw and will have to play exceptionally well to move beyond the group stages.
The groups in the doubles events comprise of four teams each with the top-two teams from each group qualifying for the quarterfinals.
World championship bronze medallist Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa have been clubbed with fifth-ranked Japanese pair of Mizuki Fujii/Reika Kakiiwa, World No 10 Chinese Taipei duo of Chen Wen Hsing/Chien Yu Chin and World No 13 Shinta Mulia Sari/Yao Lei of Indonesia in Group B.
In mixed doubles, Jwala and V Diju were drawn in a tough group with all their three opponents having won either a World Championship or an Olympic gold in the past.
The Indians, ranked 13th in the world, have been placed in Group C along with 2009 World Champions Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark, third seed Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad of Indonesia and World No 9 Lee Yong Dae and Ha Jung Eun of Korea.
The Indians have beaten only the Koreans in the past and have always found it tough to beat the Chinese and Danish pairs.
by FP Sports