New Delhi :
Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal and former World Champion Intanon Ratchanok are likely to clash in the finals of the Thailand Masters as the two have been drawn in opposite halves in the USD 1,20,000 Grand Prix Gold tournament to be held in Bangkok from February 8 to 13.
World No. 2 Saina, who will open her new season as the defending champion at the Syed Modi Grand Prix Gold, will also look to clinch the Thailand Masters title and pocket some valuable points for 2016 Olympic qualification.
The top seeded Indian have been handed an easy draw as she will take on Singapore’s Jiayuan Chen in her opening match and is likely to meet sixth seed Busanan Ongbumrungphan of Thailand in the quarterfinals at Bangkok’s Nimibutr Building.
The Olympic bronze medallist is likely to face China’s World No.11 Sun Yu in the last four. The Indian had lost to the Chinese in 2013 China Open but overall she has beaten her five times.
Local star Ratchanok too seems to have an easy road ahead as she is likely to face compatriot Nichaon Jindapol in the quarter-finals and World No.8 Sung Ji-Hyun of South Korea in the semi-finals. Sung will open her campaign against India’s Saili Rane.
Saina has not been in the best of form as she is still nursing a foot injury and also didn’t play all her matches for Awadhe Warriors at the recently-concluded Premier Badminton League (PBL).
Another Indian, Tanvi Lad will face USA’s Rong Schafer in her opening match.
In men’s singles, Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap will take on Korea’s Kwang Hee Heo, Anand Pawar will meet Thailand’s Tawan Huansuriya and youngsters Sameer Verma and Harsheel Dani will square up against Singapore’s Kean Yew Loh and Mexico’s Lino Munoz respectively.
Subhankar Dey and Shreyansh Jaiswal will meet a qualifier and top seed Lee Hyun Il of Korea respectively in their first round matches.
New men’s doubles pair of K Nandagopal and Shlok Ramchandran will meet Thai combo of Puavaranukroh Dechapol and Kedren Kittinupong, while M Anilkumar Raju and Venkat Gaurav Prasad will face Indonesia’s Andrei Adistia and Agripinna Prima Rahmanto Putra.
In women’s doubles, Dhanya Nair and Mohita Sahdev will face Indonesian pair of Keshya Nurvita Hanadia and Devi Tika Permatasari, while Komal Antil and Lalita Dahiya will take on Malaysian fourth seed Vivian Kah Mun Hoo and Khe Wei Woon.