Amongst the number of titles Saina Nehwal has won, the World Badminton Championship has always eluded her, as the world number two has failed to progress beyond the quarterfinal stage. And if Saina wants to improve upon her performance in the championship this year, the road ahead is not going to be any easy.
The 2012 London Olympic medallist, after receiving a first round bye, cruised past Hongkong's Cheung Ngan Yi with the score reading 21-13, 21-9 in the second round. Saina looked in complete control over her game as she came up with some deft touches at the net along with some smashes down the line to leave Ngan Yi clueless.
But, Saina is aware of the tough task ahead with her pre-quarters clash against the 14th seed Takahashi Sayaki on Thursday. The Japanese breezed into the round of 16 after defeating the Swiss player Sabrina Jaquet.
Even before the tournament started, Saina Nehwal was talking about the tough draw, with the likes of Sayaki Takahashi and Wang Yihan in the same half. The winner of the Saina Nehwal vs Sayaki Takahashi clash will most probably take on Yihan in the quarterfinals of the competition.
The road ahead is expected to be much tougher as well with a potential clash with local favourite and fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon in the semifinals. If Saina wants to win her first World Championship title, India's best shuttler has to defeat such quality players for which she needs to produce some top-class play in the next four days.
Even a lapse of concentration here and there could cost her the title. Such is the level of competition in the World Championship.
However, Saina cannot afford to think too much about her future opponents, as she has to solely focus on her Thursday's one in Takahashi, who has the ammunition to dump Saina out of the competition.
Where to Watch Live
The World Badminton Championships is scheduled for a 11am local time start (9:30 am IST) and Star Sports 4/HD will offer live coverage for viewers in India with live streaming on starsports.com.
Saina Nehwal vs Sayaki Takahashi Live coverage of the match is expected to start not before 12:30pm local time (11am IST).
Viewers around the world can follow the game online on Badminton World TV.
Live scorecard of all the matches on the third day can be followed here.