Saina Nehwal will look to clinch the Malaysia Masters title as she begins the year’s international campaign in the season-opening Grand Prix Gold badminton tournament which starts with the qualifiers here on Tuesday.
Saina had a good match practice when she competed at the just-concluded Premier Badminton League where she won three matches while losing to Olympic champion Carolina Marin and silver medallist P V Sindhu.
Still in the process of reaching her best form, top seed Saina will look to grab the opportunity, especially since none of the top shuttlers are participating at the USD 120,000 tournament.
Saina had endured a difficult season last year as she recovered from a foot injury to win the Australian Open but suffered a major knee injury around the Rio Olympics to bow out of the the mega-event in the second round. After regaining her fitness, she made it to the quarterfinals at Macau Open and Hong Kong Open before starting the new season with the Premier Badminton League, where she guided Awadhe Warriors to the semifinals.
In men’s singles, P Kashyap will be missing in action as he has been ruled out for three months after hurting his shoulder during the PBL but sixth seed Ajay Jayaram, who has been in good form in the domestic league, will take on a qualifier on the opening day of the main draw. Among others, Harsheel Dani will face Malaysia’s Zii Jia Lee, Abhishek Yelegar will meet 13th seed Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Rahul Yadav Chittaboina will take on Chinese Taipei’s Hsueh Hsuan Yi at Sibu Indoor Stadium.
In the women’s singles, Rituparna Das will face Chinese Taipei’s Chiang Mei Hui and Sri Krishna Priya Kudaravalli will fight it out against sixth seed Jin Wei Goh of Malaysia.