Hosts have a challenge on hand as they target last-eight finish
New Delhi: The Thomas & Uber Cup begins at the Siri Fort Stadium in New Delhi today and the hosts will be eyeing at least a quarter-final appearance in the Uber Cup.
Saina Nehwal will have to rediscover her form in order to give India a good start in the Uber Cup
But things look slightly difficult on the men’s side for the Thomas Cup, and although India have done reasonably well, they would require a large dose of luck to break into the last eight. The luck of the draw has smiled on the women’s team led by Saina Nehwal and they have been grouped with Hong Kong, Thailand and Canada. India would at least have to finish in second place to qualify for the quarters.
The doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponaappa hold the key to India’s success. The hosts are likely to sail past Canada and possess the depth to beat Hong Kong in the singles, but if it comes to crunch, Jwala and Ashwini will have to combine well to ensure the elusive berth.
“They have been playing well in the last couple of months, so I am confident that with home support and home conditions thrown in, Jwala and Ashwini will rise to the occasion. But we will have to be in top form all through. These are not easy matches,” said national coach Pullela Gopichand.
With top-ranked players clashing against each other, Saina is bound to play Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin, whom she has beaten in all their five previous encounters. World No 10 PV Sindhu, brimming with confidence, after having bagged a bronze at the recent Asian Championships, has a 3-0 record against Chan Ka, ranked 31 in the world. Unlike Hong Kong, Thailand are likely to prove difficult opposition for hosts.
Difficult days ahead
In the Thomas Cup, India are drawn against Malaysia, whom they play today, Germany and the formidable Korea. The Lee Chong Wei-led Malaysians, are stronger in both the doubles, and need just one win in the singles event which should come from Chong Wei against K Srikanth. The two have clashed twice and Chong Wei has won both matches.
Against Korea too, the doubles clash will be the main problem as the opponents are very strong. Here India have little choice but to win all three singles in order to stand a chance.
9: The number of Thomas Cup titles China have won till date. They have triumphed on eight occasions in the Uber Cup. Indonesia have won it a whopping 13 times