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Update Olympic hopefuls Sindhu, Saina eye good outing on return to action in Thailand

Olympic hopefuls PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal eye good outing on return to action in Thailand

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Nearly 10 months after COVID-19 disrupted the international calendar, star Indian shuttlers P V Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will return to competitive action in Yonex Thailand Open Super 1000 tournament starting on Tuesday, an event shorn of some sheen due to Japan and China's pullout from the Asia leg.

While Olympic silver-medallist Sindhu has been training in London for the last two months and would be keen to quickly find her rhythm, Saina was down with COVID-19 and has recently recovered from the dreaded disease.

She will look to test her fitness as badminton returns in a bio-secure bubble on Tuesday.

Sindhu and Saina didn't participate in Denmark Open Super 750 and SaarLorLux Super 100 -- the only two events which could be conducted after BWF was forced to suspend the calender at the end of the All England Championships in March.

The Asia leg also comprises Toyota Thailand Open (January 19-24) and HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2020 (27-31 January), which will conclude the coronavirus-hit 2020 season.

One factor that will boost the chances of Indian shuttlers is the absence of the formidable Japanese and Chinese shuttlers who pulled out of the Asia legs.

While China had withdrawn after a surge of COVID-19 cases in Thailand, Japan pulled out at the last minute after world no.1 Kento Momota tested positive for COVID-19.

While it didn't affect world champion Sindhu as the sixth seeded will open against Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt, Saina, who was scheduled to face Japanese Nozomi Okuhara, will now take on unheralded Malaysian Kisona Selvaduray in the first round.

The 25-year-old Sindhu has a 3-0 record against Blichfeldt though it was a three-game affair the last time the two faced each other at Indonesia Open in 2019. A win is likely to pit Sindhu against another Danish player Line


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