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In China, Saina Nehwal returns to happy hunting grounds

Saina Nehwal plays a shot.Saina Nehwal has had a topsy-turvy year. She became the first Indian woman to be ranked World No. 1. She took the Indian Open Grand Prix Gold, beating Spain’s Carolina Marin. However, that was the extent of the good news. She met Marin in the finals of the All England Open Badminton Championships as well as the World Badminton Championships, and lost both matches, settling for the runners-up position.

This form was worsened further by early exits in the Japan, Denmark and French Super Series thanks to injuries, fitness problems and stomach pain. To add salt to her proverbial wounds, Marin, by now a nemesis, took the World No. 1 ranking from her.

However, the ace Indian shuttler will look to leave all the negatives behind when she begins her campaign in the China Open.

“I had some abdominal pain and a little discomfort in my heel but now I am fine,” Saina told PTI. “I trained harded in the last few weeks and I am really looking forward to the tournament. It is an Olympic year and it is an important event. I will give my best.”

The last time she gave her best at the China Open, she won the title – she beat the Japanese Akane Yamaguchi in straight sets in the 2014 edition of the tournament.

Saina is the top seed in the competition, and will battle China’s Sun Yu in the first round. The Indian has a 4-1 win record against the Chinese shuttler, but the World No. 11 may prove to be a tough opponent to beat. However, Saina is confident, and her past form in the tournament will only boost her campaign.

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