Saina, Srikanth face stiff competitions in Superseries Finals


Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and leading male shuttler Kidambi Srikanth will look to finishing the year on a successful note as the $1,000,000 Badminton World Federation (BWF) Superseries Finals get underway Wednesday at the Hamdan Sports Complex here.

While World No.4 Saina has been seeded fifth, the men’s World No.8 Srikanth was seeded sixth for the five-day tournament where top eight performers in each of the five categories from the 12 Superseries events will vie for the honours.

Saina recovered from injuries to capture two superseries titles – Australian Open and China Open – to push ahead in the rankings.

However, the Hyderabadi will face a stiff challenge as she has been clubbed with Chinese World No.2 Shixian Wang and South Koreans Ji Hyun Sung and Yeon Ju Bae in Group A. Two players from each group will qualify for the semi-finals.

Former Finals champion Yihan Wang will face former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, last year’s beaten finalist Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei and youngster Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in Group B.

The 24-year-old Saina, finalist in 2011 event, hinted she was lucky to have avoided Yihan Wang in her group.

“I prefer playing Shixian to Yihan, since it has been tough for me against Yihan. But Shixian too is a difficult player and it might be a long match,” Saina was quoted as saying by the BWF’s official website Monday.

Saina and Shixian have each won two of their four clashes this year so this could well be a tie-breaker of sorts. However, the Indian is not underestimating the Koreans, acknowledging she expects some long, tough matches.

Srikanth, who stunned five-time World and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in the final of the China Open, finds himself in Group Group B along with World No.3 Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark, World No.5 Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia and World No.15 Kento Momoto of Japan.

Drama will also be high in Group A, which comprises World champion and leading contender Chen Long of China, along with Wan Ho Son of South Korea, Japan’s Kenichi Tago and Hans-Kristian Vittinghus of Denmark – all capable of causing major mayhem when at their best.

World No.1 Chen Long of China said: “I will try my best to win. This really is the peak of all the BWF events.”