Saina, Sindhu rivalry renews at Senior National Badminton Championships

Guwahati: India’s badminton queens Saina Nehwal and P V Sindhu will reignite their on-field rivalry at home turf for the coveted women’s singles title at the 83rd edition of the Senior National Badminton Championships which begin with the qualifiers here today.

Sindhu and Saina will undoubtedly be the biggest attraction with some big names including last edition’s finalists, Kidambi Srikanth and H S Prannoy, giving the tournament a miss due to fitness issues.

The duo, finalists in the last edition, have been India’s biggest achievers over the years, including last season. While Sindhu capped off the season with a maiden gold at the World Tour Final in December after reaching six finals, including the major events such as Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Championship, Saina has entered four finals, with one resulting in a gold at the Commonwealth Games.

Saina had the last laugh in the last edition of the tournament against Sindhu and she went on to get the better off her compatriot at Gold Coast final as well for her second CWG gold.

Another summit clash is likely on the cards for the celebrated shuttlers and they would look to outdo each other ahead of the All England Championship early next month.

Defending champion Saina, who made a good start to the new BWF season with a title triumph at the Indonesia Masters, will look to conquer the Nationals for the fourth time, while Sindhu, too, would hope to lift the trophy for a third time.

According to the tournament rules, the top eight players, ranked below 50 in the BWF World Rankings as on 18 January in both men’s and women’s singles, will start directly from the pre-quarter-finals on completion of the Super Draw 14 February. If any slot is left vacant then players with top BAI Rankings’ will be considered to fill up rest of the top 8, who will get a direct entry into the pre-quarters.

In women’s singles, besides Sindhu and Saina, Shriyanshi Pardeshi, Ashmita Chaliha, Kanika Kanwal, Aruna Prabhudesai, Sai Uttejitha Rao Ch and Aakarshi Kashyap will get direct entries into the pre-quarters.

In men’s singles, Sameer Verma, B Sai Praneeth and Parupalli Kashyap will be joined by SaarLorLux Open winner Subhankar Dey, Ansal Yadav, Chirag Sen, Bodhit Joshi and Kartik Jindal in the pre-quarterfinals.

The youngsters will benefit due to the withdrawal of Prannoy and Srikanth. While Prannoy is recovering from a breathing problem triggered by astroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and plans to go to Boston, USA, to treat the problem after the All England, Srikanth is battling niggles and had decided to skip the event ahead of the All England Championship.