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Saina faces Hongyan in All England opener

March 02, 2009 19:40 IST

Saina Nehwal returns to the court after a three-week injury lay-off at the Yonex All England Open Super Series on Wednesday. The Indian ace opens her campaign at the prestigious tournament against old French foe Hongyan Pi.

A shoulder injury had forced the world No. 10 to skip the National Championships last month and coach Pullela Gopichand feels that although she is fit, she could be a little wary since it would be her first tournament since coming back from injury.

"I don't think the injury will have any bearing on her performance, but, yes, since it is her first tournament after the injury, she may feel a bit wary in the initial moments," Gopichand said.

The former All England champion said the first match will be and could decide the course of the tournament.

"The first match is against Hongyan; it will be a tough match. Although Saina has defeated her in the past, the French is in good form at the moment. If Saina can get past her things could turn out well for her," he said.

World number 13 Chetan Anand, who also stayed away from the National Championships owing to a thigh injury, will take on Andrew Smith of England in the first round on Wednesday.

Among other Indians in the fray, Anup Sridhar will lock horns with Malaysian Beng Hong Kuan while Anand Pawar takes on Carl Baxter of England in the qualifiers of the men's singles on Tuesday.

The Indian women doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and Shruti Kurian will face Malaysian duo Chiou Hwee Haw and Pek Siah Lim in the opening round on Wednesday.

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