PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal look to end 54-year old title wait at Asia Championship

NEW DELHI : A week’s rest after three back-to-back tournaments, Olympic medallists P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will now train their eyes on ending India’s 54-year-old title jinx at the Asia Badminton Championship beginning on Wednesday.It was Dinesh Khanna, who had become the men’s singles champion at the Asian Championship in 1965. Last year, HS Prannoy and Saina Nehwal won bronze medals in their respective categories.

The two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina had won two more bronze at the Asia Championship in 2010 and 2016, while Sindhu claimed the bronze at the 2014 event at South Korea.

The duo will have their task cut out in a draw which boasts of the likes of Akane Yamaguchi, Chen Yufei, Ratchanok Intanon among others even though defending champion and India’s nemesis Tai Tzu Ying has withdrawn from the event.

Sindhu had reached her second semifinal this season at the Singapore Open before her inexplicable meltdown against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, while Saina perished in the quarterfinals after going down in straight games to the same opponent.

Sindhu, who had won the World Tour Finals in December, will look for her maiden title of the season when she begins her campaign against Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi.

A win is likely to pit Sindhu against Pornpawee Chochuwong, who had beaten Saina at Malaysia Open. The Indian is expected to stave off the challenge which will bring her face to face with Korea’s Sung Ji Hyun, who had beaten her twice this year.

Saina is the only Indian to win a title at the Indonesia Masters and finished at the quarterfinals after fighting through a pancreatic problem. She missed two tournaments before making a comeback at Malaysia

Though she lost in the first round to Chochowong in Kuala Lumpur, Saina avenged her loss to the Thai player at Singapore.

The 29-year-old from Hyderabad, seeded seventh, will begin her quest for a second title against China’s Han Yue and is likely to clash with Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in the quarterfinals.