Saina Nehwal gets first round bye at World Championships

Nehwal starts with a bye,and isn't exactly staring at a minefield on her path to the quarterfinals.

Written by Shivani Naik | Mumbai | Published: July 23, 2013 3:58 am

Delhi may hold all the riches,the frills and thrills with the inaugural IBL auction,but it was Guangzhou’s gritty Tianhe Stadium,a gladiator’s ring no less in China’s badminton-mad city,that set the primary agenda for the busy month of August.

Saina Nehwal was cautiously excited about the World Championship draws that were released from China’s eastern badminton hub on Monday – almost simultaneously with the auction in the Indian capital.

Nehwal,seeded third,starts with a bye,and isn’t exactly staring at a minefield on her path to the quarterfinals. She plays the winner of Russian Olga Golovanova and Bulgarian Alesia Zaitsava first up,and placed in the lower quarter of the top half of the draw,could face her first challenge in Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk. Japanese Minatsu Mitani,Korean Bae Yeon Ju and Hong Kong’s Chan Tsz Ka have all been upstarts at one point in time,but imminently beatable for the Indian willing herself to go past her previous best of a quarterfinal at the Worlds.

Should she cross that threshold,there’s the ominous presence of Olympic champ Xuerui Li in the semis,though the World Championship draws are known to throw surprises,especially from the Chinese.

It’s a steep order beating the Chinese at the Worlds,more so when they strut their stuff at home in China,but Nehwal isn’t unduly perturbed. “It’s a good draw compared to some of my draws from previous years. Every international match is tough,but I’ll take this draw any day. It will all depend on how I play on that day. But I’ve worked hard on my fitness. It will boil down to how I feel mentally on that day but I’m preparing for everything,” she said.

She also insisted that she was playing at a big enough level to know that the IBL and its buzzing whirl would not distract her from staying focused on the Worlds.

The other Indian in the women’s singles,10th seed PV Sindhu could feature in an exciting clash with Chinese No.2 Yihan Wang in the pre-quarters.

P Kashyap,seeded 13,starts out against Estonia’s Raul Must and will bank on the Indian players’ recent successes against Hong Kong’s World No.6 Hun Yu when he sits down to strategise to go beyond the pre-quarters.

Ajay Jayaram runs into familiar foe — again from Hong Kong — Wing Ki Wong first up. However,at his best,the Mumbai lad training in Bangalore,is capable of beating each of the seeded names — Tien Minh Nguyen,Jan O Jorgensen and Boonsak Ponsana and eye the quarters.

No Jwala

India boast of a recent bronze at the 2009 Worlds in women’s doubles,but it will be the first time in many years that the formidable presence of Jwala Gutta would be missing from the draw. The new women’s pairing of Ashwini Ponappa and Pradnya Gadre,having taken a brave call to stick to their pairing,play Danish youngsters Line Damkjaer Kruse and Marie Roepke and will aim for a breakthrough Worlds to announce themselves to the shuttle-fraternity.

Though India is fielding two pairings in each of the doubles events —- men’s and women’s doubles and mixed doubles,the youngsters aren’t exactly going to set Guangzhou’s Pearl River on fire,or at least haven’t given any indication of being marked out for big things just yet.

BWF to probe brawl between Jongjit,Issara

Bodin Issara’s punch-up with his former doubles partner Maneepong Jongjit during Sunday’s Canada Open final is being investigated by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). “The men’s doubles final ended … with a black card being issued to Thailand pair,Bodin Issara and Pakkawat Vilailak,who were disqualified,” the BWF said in a statement.

“The events surrounding the conclusion of this match will be thoroughly investigated by the BWF… and this matter will be referred to the Disciplinary Committee.”

Trouble broke out between two Thai pairs after Maneepong and Nipitphon Puangpuapech bagged the first game. At the change of ends Maneepong hit Bodin with his racquet following a heated verbal exchange. Bodin retaliated by chasing down Maneepong to a neighbouring court before punching him several times. After officials pulled apart the pair,Bodin and Vilailak were disqualified from the final. —(Reuters)

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