Saina gets top billing in Malaysia Open

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 14 (IANS) The absence of top Chinese shuttlers has given India' s World No.3 Saina Nehwal top billing in the women's singles event at the $400,000 Malaysia Open Super Series beginning here Tuesday.

Saina should cruise through the first two rounds here at the Putra Stadium. If all goes well for the Hyderabadi, she will meet eighth seed Eriko Hirose of Japan in the quarterfinals Friday. Though Saina is ranked higher than Eriko, head-to-head statistics show that the Japanese veteran has a slight edge in their last five encounters.

The 22-year-old top seed will face World No.18 Juan Gu of Singapore in the first round Wednesday over whom Saina has a 3-0 head-to-head in career meetings.

Rising player P.V. Sindhu has been given a tough first round match against veteran third seed Tine Baun of Denmark. Sindhu, who exited early in Korea Open too, might find it difficult to make her way through to the second round.

In men's singles, Mumbai's Ajay Jayaram and Sourabh Verma, hailing from Madhya Pradesh, make a comeback to the Super Series. Jayaram will face Malaysian Daren Liew while Verma takes on a qualifier in their respective first round matches.

Eyes will be on Liew to put up a good show after scoring his first Super Series win in France last year. The Malaysian will have to dig deep in his reserves playing against Jayaram as the Indian has stamina on his side.

The best ranked Indian in men's singles, Parupalli Kashyap, ranked 11, will open his innings against Takuma Ueda of Japan against whom the Indian has a 1-0 record.

Anand Pawar, B. Sai Praneeth, R.M.V. Gurusaidutt will be seen in men's singles qualification action Tuesday as well as Akshay Dewalkar and Pradnya Gadre in mixed doubles.

Manu Attri with B. Sumeeth Reddy and S. Sanjeeth partnering Jagadish Yadav will also be vying for a spot in the main draw of the tournament in men's doubles.


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