Saina, Sridhar get favourable Olympics draw

July 27th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 27 (IANS) India’s Saina Nehwal and Anup Sridhar have got a favourable draw in the women’s and men’s singles badminton events, respectively, of the Beijing Olympics. Saina’s way to the pre-quarterfinal is certainly not a bed of thorns.

World No.15 Saina will face 30th ranked Russian Ella Diehl Karachkova in the first round. If she clears the first round, Saina will meet the winner of Ukraine’s world No. 27 Griga Larisa and Italy’s Allegrini Agnese, ranked 55th.

If the 18-year-old Indian enters the pre-quarterfinal, Saina might run into World No.6 Chen Wang of Hong Kong. Saina has lost twice to Chen but given the way she has shaped up before the Olympics, it will not be a surprise if the Indian scores an upset win.

Saina gave a tough fight to Chinese world no 1 Xie Xingfang in Thailand Open last month which speaks volumes about her form.

In the men’s, Sridhar, ranked 29th, will have an easy first round where he meets Portugal’s Marco Vasconcelos who is 60 places behind the Indian. But after the first round, it will not be easy going for the Banglorean.

Sridhar, in all probability, will meet world no. 16 Shoji Sato of Japan. The 25-year-old Indian has a long-standing rivalry with the Japanese and enjoys a 3-2 win-loss record.

For a place in the quarterfinals, Sridhar might have to thwart Danish Peter Gade who is World No. 8 and eighth seed.

Sridhar had a breakthrough in 2007 when he reached the semi-final of the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur and the semi-finals of the Asian championships and the German Open.

Sridhar, who beat Indonesia’s Olympic gold medallist Taufik Hidayat and former All England champion Hafiz Hashim of Malaysia and gave world champion Lin Dan a big scare in Kuala Lumpur, rode on his form high to reach a career-high ranking of 24 in March before an injury slump took him down.

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