Saina India's best bet in Paris

Paris, Oct 21 (IANS) Saina Nehwal will be India's best bet as most of her compatriots face tough draws at the $200,000 French Open Super Series which kicks off Tuesday at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin.

Fourth seed Saina, along with World No.10 P.V. Sindhu, have been drawn in the second half of the women's singles. While the senior Hyderabadi has a couple of easy rounds at the beginning, Sindhu faces a tough opener.

The World Championship bronze medallist will be opening the tournament against South Korean sixth seed Sung Ji Hyun, who is in top form after reaching the Denmark Open Super Series Premier final Sunday.

If Sindhu manages to beat Ji, she will have a relatively easier second round before a likely clash against last year's runner-up Saina. In case Ji progresses, Saina will be under the gun as she lost to the sixth seed in the Denmark Open quarterfinals Friday.

In the women's doubles competitions, Jwala Gutta -- after much hullabaloo -- will finally be taking to the court with old partner Ashwini Ponnappa for the first time since the 2012 London Games.

In the opener, the duo will take on Indonesians Gebby Ristiyani Imawan and Tiara Rosalia Nuraidah. If the Indian combine manage to win then they will likely be up against Japanese third seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi.

Though Jwala and Ashwini are a successful pair, Indian badminton fans should not expect too much as they will take time to get accustomed to the courts and are out of match practice.

In the mixed doubles, India have fielded only one pair -- that of Ashwini and Tarun Kona -- who have a relatively easy opener. If they manage to win that then they will take on Chinese top seeds Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei in the second round.

In the men's singles, all three Indian shuttlers have been drawn in the same half.

Leading the pack is Parupalli Kashyap, who has been drawn to face top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in the first round. The latter lost in the final of Denmark Open to China's Chen Long and will be looking to make ammends which makes the task even more difficult for the out-of-form Kashyap.

Mumbai's Ajay Jayaram faces Japan's Kazumasa Sakai in Round 1. If he wins, then the winner of the Kashyap vs Lee match will be waiting for him next.

R.M.V. Gurusaidutt also faces a tough challenge against China's Yuekun Chen. If he comes out victorious then it will be Indonesian fifth seed Tommy Sugiarto next and then Japanese third seed Kenichi Tago waiting for him.


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