first_imgIf there is one Indian athlete who most people in China recognise, it is Saina Nehwal. As the badminton diva begins her campaign at the Asian Games, she is aware what the pressure of expectations is like. Saina experienced it at the Commonwealth Games where she seemed down and out in the final before beating Mew Choo Wong of Malaysia from a point of no return.Saina Nehwal is the second seed for the women’s singles competition at the Asian Games.As one who had lost in the first round of Doha Asian Games in 2006, Saina’s journey in the intervening years in the world of badminton has indeed been a phenomenal one.As Saina begins her campaign on Saturday, she is aware what the expectations from her are. More so, as in the 48-year history of badminton at the Asian Games, no Indian has won a gold medal. There have been bronze medal efforts before but if Saina is the answer for a gold, it’s not going to be easy.The draw would suggest she has an easy passage till the semi-finals but in modern sport there is nothing like an easy match. The world number three is seeded second in the draw here and expected to face Hong Kong’s Pui Yin Yip, the sixth seed.As rules do not permit more than two Chinese in an event, Saina is billed to meet China’s third seeded Wang Shixian in the semifinals. She had lost to the same player in the quarter-finals at the World Championship recently.advertisement”I was not in good shape during the World Championship after winning three events in June. My body refused to take more load,” she says.Indian hopes in the men’s section revolve around Parupalli Kashyap, who emerged India’s star player at the Commonwealth Games with a bronze.One cannot forget the solid showing put up by Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa, who won the doubles gold at the Commonwealth Games. Predictions are they will run into second seeded Chinese Shu Cheng and Yunlei Zhao in the second round.last_img

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