Saina, Sindhu on collision course at Japan Open

Tokyo, Sep 7 (IANS) Women’s second seed Saina Nehwal will face compatriot P.V. Sindhu in the second round of the $275,000 Japan Open Superseries starting here on Tuesday — if they win their first rounds. Ditto is the case with top men’s singles players Kidambi Srikanth and Parupalli Kashayp.

Hyderabadi Saina, who recently reached the final of the World Championships, will open her campaign against Thai Busanan Ongbumrungpan on Wednesday. Her city-mate and world No.14 Sindhu will face Japan’s Minatsu Mitani at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

If both cross the first round, they will face each other for the second time in their career. Their first clash — at the 2014 India Grand Prix Gold final — was won by World No.1 Saina in straight games.

In the third round, the winner from among them is expected to face former world champion Ratchanok Intanon.

The big names in the other half of the draw include two-time reigning world champion Carolina Marin of Spain, Olympic champion Li Xuerui and former world No.1 Shixian Wang.

In the men’s singles competition, the only Indian to be seeded is world No.4 Srikanth. The 22-year-old Guntur-born shuttler will open against Scott Evans of Ireland.

Reigning Commonwealth Games champion and world No.8 Kashyap will face Japanese challenger Takuma Ueda, world No.31 Ajay Jayaram will take on Danish seventh seed Viktor Axelsen while world No.12 H.S. Prannoy will be pitted against Wong Wing Ki Vincent of Hong Kong.

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa have a difficult task ahead as they have been drawn against Chinese women’s doubles eighth seeds Zhao Yunlei and Zhong Qianxin.

Pradnya Gadre and N. Sikki Reddy face Japanese top seeds Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi in the opener.

In the qualifying matches on Tuesday, the mixed doubles pair of Tarun Kona and Sikki will face Japan’s Yuta Watnabe and Hingashino, while Anand Pawar faces Japanese Kanata Tsuneyama.

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