Saina Nehwal has been out of action from the big badminton tournaments for over a year. At the upcoming World Championships in Scotland, the Indian star would be looking to make a strong comeback. The tournament begins on August 21. Saina is seeded 12th, the second highest for an Indian women’s player, behind PV Sindhu.
According to ZEE news report, Saina, owing to her high seeding, has got a first round bye at the competition. But in the third round, the 27-year-old is slated to meet second seed Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea, a tough match by all accounts and especially for a player on a comeback trail.
The former world No.1, the only Indian to reach the final of the World Championships, lost to Carolina Marin at the last edition. Though injuries had slowed her down they did not affect the confidence of the badminton ace. Known for her never-say-die fighting spirit, the shuttle queen is training under the watchful eyes of Vimal Kumar.
Saina got a decent draw and Vimal told TOI that she’s very positive. “She is training quite well and the good thing is that she is looking forward to it. That is a good sign,” said Vimal, who has been training Saina since September 2014.
Saina has been a five-time losing quarterfinalist in the tournament. Her best in the championships in the past though was a runner-up position in 2015 when she went down to Carolina Marin in straight games.
Saina has 21 titles to her name. The major ones include the Commonwealth Games (multi-sport event) triumph in 2010, and wins at the Denmark Open in 2012, Indonesia Open in 2012 and China Open in 2014 (all three being Super Series Premier/ Finals events).
It will be unfair to expect Saina to create miracles at the World Championships considering that she has been out of major action for so long but may be a place in the last eight is a realistic expectation. That will not just be a fine result but will also put her comeback on track.
Her loss in the final to Marin at the World Championships in 2015 in fact was her last match at the competition since she missed the tournament last year.
Interestingly Saina has been placed in the same half as Marin who she can meet in the semi-finals but for that to happen, she will have to overcome not just Ji-hyun but also sixth seed He Bingjiao of China. A very tough probability but not impossible for her.