The India Open Superseries has moved into the crucial stage of the competition, where top shuttle play is expected between the players and even small mistakes are going to be punished. Top shuttlers such as Li Xuerui, Wang Shixian and Ratchanak Intanon are set to feature in their respective quarterfinals matches while India will depend on Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu in the quarters, Friday.
Saina might have not dropped a single game in the India Open, but is yet to hit top gear. Saina's movement on court has not been top-class. The second seed cannot afford any mishaps against her quarterfinal opponent, Sung Ji Hyun, who has been brilliant in the India Open so far.
Sun Ji will prove to Saina's biggest test in the competition so far, and will test her fitness to the hilt. Saina, though, does have an edge over her opponent, as the Indian enjoys a superior head-to-head record. Saina has defeated Sung Ji five times in their six previous meetings. Besides the better head-to-head record, Saina will be well supported by the home crowd in Delhi.
The Indian player has to be careful against Sung Ji, who is a dangerous player and loves to attack her opponents. Saina, if she plays as per her strength, should reach the semifinals of the India Open, where the world number six could meet Xuerui or Shixian, who will meet in one of the other quarterfinals.
Even if Saina falters, India can still pin their hopes on Sindhu as she will face South Korean Bae Yeon Ju, who defeated Japan's Yui Hashimoto in the second round. It is not going to be any easy for the Indian shuttler in the quarterfinal, with Yeon Ju enjoying a 2-1 head-to-head record over Sindhu. The Indian shuttler must be aware of the challenge, and she needs to cut out her errors in in order to reach the semifinal of the India Open.
Sindu has been hot and cold in the India Open so far, defeating Jeanine Cicognini with utmost ease, while she had to sweat it out against Busanan Ongbumrungphan, before prevailing 17-21, 21-19, 21-16 in a tight encounter. Though she emerged victorious against Busanan, Sindhu made a number of unforced errors, which she cannot afford to make against Yeon Ju.
Where to follow live
Saina Nehwal vs Sung Ji Hyun (4:15 p.m IST)*
PV Sindhu vs Bae Yeon Ju (6:15 p.m IST)*
India Open Superseries can be followed live in India on Start Sports 4/HD with live streaming option on starsports.com.
*The match timings could change, depending on the conclusion of other matches.