Saina Nehwal has been carrying the Indian flag on her shoulders for a number of years now and the story has not changed in the ongoing Australian Open as well. All other Indian players such as Kidambi Srikanth, Jwala Gutta/Ashwini Ponnappa, Parupalli Kashyap and RMV Gurusaidutt have crashed out of the competition in their respective categories, barring Saina.
The second seed had an easy outing against the Malaysian qualifier Lyddia Cheah Yi Yu in the first round, but Saina survived a scare in the round of 16 against Chinese Sun Yu. Saina Nehwal was stretched to three sets by the Chinese, after the Indian lost a very close second set.
Eventually, the Indian won the match with the score reading 21-19, 19 -21 and 21-14 to set up a clash with another Chinese player, Shixian Wang, who is going to be her first 'top player' test in the competition at Sydney Olympic Park on Friday.
The contest between the two superstars is expected to be a close fight, as they have earned a huge name in the badminton circuit over the years at the top level. The Chinese is seeded fifth in the competition, while Saina is seeded second.
As far as their head to head is concerned, the world number one has a slight edge over the Chinese, as she has won 6 out of the 11 matches against Wang Shixian.
The last time these shuttlers were in action was during the BWF's World Super Series in Dubai and the Indian won in straight sets with the score reading 21-17 and 21-18. The second seed will be eager to come up with a repeat performance against the former world number one, who has won a number of titles in her career.
Saina has been in impressive form this year winning Indian Super Series and Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold title, though she lost a golden chance to clinch the All England Open, losing to Carolina Marin in the finals.
The Indian is aware of the tough task at hand against the Chinese, who can unsettle top players with her game as well. The Indian needs to be wise in her approach against Wang Shixian and move around the court with full authority to defeat the fifth seed.
If the Indian loses her quarterfinals clash against the Chinese, India's journey in the Australian Open comes to an end.
Where to Watch Live
India's Saina Nehwal takes on China's Wang Shixian after the first mixed doubles match at Sydney Olympic Park 1 concludes, which starts at 4pm local time (11:30am IST, 2am ET, 7am BST).
Indian viewers can watch live action on Star Sports 4 and Star Sports 4HD with live streaming option on starsports.com.
The live scores can be followed on the BWF Super Series official website.
International viewers can stream it live here.