Basel, March 10: After exiting the All England Open in the quarterfinals, top Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal will look to reclaim the $125,000 Swiss Open Grand Prix Gold which starts at St. Jakobshalle here Tuesday. The two-time former winner, who has been seeded sixth, triumphed here in 2011 and 2012 and reached the semi-finals last year.
The Olympic bronze medallist opens her campaign against a qualifier and is expected to ease in to the quarterfinals where she will up against old foe and top seed Yihan Wang of China. Though Yihan has an impressive 6-1 record against Saina, the Hyderabadi clinched their last encounter when she was leading in the second game following which the Chinese former World Champion retired.
Saina’s city-mate P.V. Sindhu has been seeded just a notch below her at seventh. The World Championship bronze medalist, who has been placed in the other half of the draw, has already proceeded to the second round as her first round opponent Beatriz Corrales of Spain has withdrawn her entry.
The World No.9’s real test will also come in the last eight where she will take on an in-form Shixian Wang of China, who Sunday trounced reigning Olympic champion and World No.1 Li Xuerui to win the All England title. However, the 18-year-old Indian will take heart from the fact that she has an unbeaten 2-0 lead in career meetings over the former World No.1.
Saili Rane is the only other Indian in the main draw of women’s singles and faces a huge challenge in the face of third seed Shixian in the opener. The Swiss Open is also an excellent opportunity for out-of-form Parupalli Kashyap to get back into the groove. The Indian has been seeded third in the men’s singles draw and is expected to enter the last eight without any hassle.
Kashyap’s opponent in the quarterfinals could be top seed and World No.4 Dane Jan O Jorgensen, who has a 4-1 career advantage over India’s World No.18. Rising Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth has been seeded fifth and will open his Switzerland trip against Swedish World No. 42 Henri Hurskainen. Mumbai’s Anand Pawar is the other Indian in the fray.
Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa have received direct qualification in the women’s doubles main draw and Ashwini will also partner Tarun Kona in the mixed doubles.