Saina Nehwal came back from behind to register a win over Thailand's Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and reach the second round of Hong Kong Open, where she will face Sayaka Sato on Thursday. Though Saina was stretched to three games, her fellow countrywoman PV Sindhu was in amazing control as she took just 33 minutes to destroy Susanto Yulia in straight games. Sindhu will now face Hsu Ya Ching.
The former world number one has not been able to hit the ground running after her knee surgery in August. Her win over Porntip was her first after that operation. She lost the first game, but looked determined, and clinched the next two to emerge triumphant.
Despite that victory, it is evident that Saina is not on top of her game, which one had become used to seeing in the past. Her movement does not look swift enough. But she needs to forget all the negative things and move forward to defeat Sato.
If one looks at the record between the two shuttlers, Saina has been brilliant against the Japanese. She enjoys a 5-1 record, winning their last four encounters, including the Swiss Open, earlier in the year. Sato knows Saina is not in great knick, and it could be a great time for her to stun the Indian shuttler.
Coming to Sindhu, there is no doubt about her form, fitness and shuttle play. All the things are clicking for the shuttler, and one does not see any reason for Sindhu's failure to reach the next round. After winning the China Open, she will be more than determined to score some points, and climb higher in the ranking charts.
Sindhu is one of the aggressive players on the circuit. She loves to play with high energy and use her powerful smashes and net play to secure points, which has been successful so far. Sindhu will play a similar game against Ya Ching.
Ching will not be too scared against Sindhu, who lost in their only head-to-head in Indonesia Open in 2015. Despite that loss, one can safely say that Sindhu is the favourite if she plays her normal game.
Where to watch live
Saina Nehwal vs Sayaka Sato match is scheduled for around 4pm local time (1:30 pm IST). PV Sindhu vs Hsu Ya Ching will take place at 6:30 pm local time (3:30 pm IST).
How to follow these matches: Click here for live scores