SAINA AND PRANNOY EYE CHINA OPEN TO SEAL BERTH AT DUBAI FI­NAL

Millennium Post - - FRONT PAGE -

FUZHOU: Newly-crowned na­tional cham­pi­ons Saina Ne­hwal and H S Prannoy will look to en­hance their chances of qual­i­fy­ing for the Dubai Su­per Se­ries Fi­nals with a good per­for­mance at the USD 700,000 China Open Su­per­series Pre­mier start­ing on Tues­day.

For­mer World No.1 Saina up­staged Olympic silver-medal­list P V Sindhu in the na­tional fi­nals last week to claim her third cham­pi­onship crown, while Prannoy stunned Ki­dambi Srikanth to clinch his maiden ti­tle at the 82nd edi­tion of the event at Nag­pur.

In­ter­est­ingly, both Saina and Prannoy are ranked 11th in the Des­ti­na­tion Dubai Rank­ing and are rac­ing against time to book a berth at next month’s Su­per Se­ries Fi­nal with just two Su­per Se­ries events — China Open and Hong Kong Open — left in the cal­en­der.

The 27-year-old In­dian, who clinched a bronze medal at the Glas­gow World Cham­pi­onship, will open her cam­paign against USA’S Bei­wen Zhang, while Prannoy will face a qual­i­fier in the open­ing round.

How­ever, Srikanth, who clinched four ti­tles and reached five fi­nals in this sea­son, will be tak­ing a break this week to nurse a mus­cle strain. Among oth­ers to pull out are Sameer Verma, Ajay Ja­yaram and B Sai Pra­neeth.

Sindhu has also been in im­pres­sive form this sea­son as she clinched two su­per se­ries ti­tles — In­dia Open and Korea Open — be­sides win­ning a silver at the World Cham­pi­onship.

She too will be pumped up to get back to her win­ning ways af­ter the set­back against Saina.

The 22-year-old will be­gin her jour­ney against Ja­pan’s Sayaka Sato, who clinched the Indonesia Open this year.

If the In­dian can cross the first two rounds, she might face off against Ja­pan’s No­zomi Okuhara, who had beaten her to a cov­eted gold at the Glas­gow world cham­pi­onship in Au­gust af­ter a marathon fi­nal.

Sourabh Verma will also be back in ac­tion af­ter skip­ping the last two su­per se­ries events due to fit­ness is­sues.

Sourabh meets France’s Brice Leverdez, who had knocked out Chong Wei at the World Cham­pi­onship opener.

In dou­bles, the mixed pair of Pranaav Jerry Cho­pra and N Sikki Reddy, who had reached the semi­fi­nals at Ja­pan Open, will have to fight it out with the fifth-seeded Chi­nese combo of Zheng Si­wei and Huang Yaqiong.

The men’s pair of Manu At­tri and B Sumeeth Reddy, who won the Na­tion­als last week, faces the top-seeded In­done­sian combo of Mar­cus Fer­naldi Gideon and Kevin San­jaya Suka­muljo.

Satwik­sairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty will take on fifth-seeded Chi­nese combo of Liu Cheng and Zhang Nan.

Na­tional cham­pi­ons Ash­wini and Sikki will cross swords with the Korean combo of Ha Na Baek and Chae Yoo Jung in women’s dou­bles.

In the qual­i­fiers on Tues­day, na­tional cham­pi­ons Satwik­sairaj and Ash­wini will look to make it to the main draw when they face Chi­nese Taipei’s Lee Jhe-huei and Wu Ti Jung.

In men’s sin­gles, Com­mon­wealth Games cham­pion Paru­palli Kashyap will be­gin his cam­paign in the qual­i­fiers, tak­ing on China’s Guo Kai.

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