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Singapore super series : Saina hopes to end title drought

Singapore super series : Saina hopes to end title drought
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Highlights

After failing to retain crowns in Thailand and Indonesia in the last couple of weeks, Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal will now look to break her...

After failing to retain crowns in Thailand and Indonesia in the last couple of weeks, Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal will now look to break her nine-month title draught when she begins her campaign in the Singapore Super Series here on Wednesday. The World No. 2 Indian has been going through a dip in form, besides having some injury concerns and it reflected in her performance at Thailand and Indonesia where she crashed out of the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively.

By this time of the year, Saina always has at least one title in her cabinet but this year, even though she reached the semifinals of the All England and Swiss Open earlier, a title has eluded her. In fact, she has not won a title since last October. The 23-year-old, who skipped the tournament last year in the run up for the London Olympics, will look to turn around things but she will have to be on guard as she begins her campaign against local player Juan Gu.

Juan had spoilt Saina's campaign at Thailand and the Olympic bronze medallist will be eager to avenge that quarterfinal loss. The road ahead won't be easy for the Commonwealth Champion as some top players, including World No. 12 Eriko Hirose, World No. 5 Ratchanok Intanon, are in the fray. Drawn in the second half, Saina, however, won't face any Chinese before the semifinals.

World No. 11 P V Sindhu, who won the Malaysia Open Grand Prix in May, meanwhile, pulled out of the tournament as she is yet to recover from her knee injury. In men's singles, World No. 10 Parupalli Kashyap will also look to fashion a turn around after he lost to Sho Sasaki of Japan in the opening round of Indonesia Super Series last week in Jakarta.

Thailand Open Champion Kidambi Srikanth too has been awarded a direct entry into the main draw after two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China pulled out. The 20-year-old from Guntur will now begin his campaign against sixth seed Tien Minh Nguyen of Vietnam on Wednesday.

Among others, Anand Pawar will take on top seed Pengyu Du of China, Ajay Jayaram will be up against fourth seeded Japanese Kenichi Tago, Sourabh Varma will meet Hong Kong's Wing Ki Wong and RMV Gurusaidutt will be squaring up against Wei Feng Chong of Malaysia at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Sai, Thulasi, Pantawane qualify

Singapore (PTI): Rising shuttlers Sai Praneeth, P C Thulasi and Arundhati Pantawane qualified for the main draw of the Singapore Super Series after winning their respective qualifying round matches at the Singapore Indoor Stadium here on Tuesday.

Praneeth packed off former All England Champion Muhammad Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia 21-13, 21-15 in the opening round of men's singles qualifier before getting the better of Riichi Takeshita 21-12, 22-20 in 36 minutes in the second match to book a berth in the main draw.

The 20-year-old from Hyderabad will take on World No. 4 Yun Hu of Hong Kong in the opening round of the men's singles event on Thursday. In women's singles qualifiers, Arundhati Pantawane first thrashed Russian Anna Astrakhantseva 21-5, 21-10 in just 17 minutes, and then went on to register a comfortable 21-14, 21-16 victory over local player Xiaoyu Liang in a half-an-hour contest.

While Thulasi posted a hard-fought win over Chochuwong Pornpawee of Thailand 18-21, 21-13, 21-8 in 51 minutes in the second qualifying match to advance to the next stage. She earlier defeated Vietnam's Thi Trang (B) Vu 21-18, 21-17 in 39 minutes in the first qualifier.

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