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India’s World No4 Saina Nehwal cruised past her Chinese World No2 opponent Wang Shixian in straight sets on the first day of the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals at Hamdan Sports Complex on Wednesday.
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The Indian, receiving vociferous support from the large expatriate crowd, was in control for most of the 58-minute match, which she comfortably won 21-17, 21-18.
Meanwhile, an unlikely result featured in the opening session of the Superseries Finals in the morning.
Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus was seen as the underdog in Men’s Singles Group A, and with a 0-4 record against the in-form Son Wan Ho of Korea, the Dane admitted he wasn’t the favourite.
However, he produced a steady game against Son and closed out the match 21-13, 21-16 in just 42 minutes.
Jan O Jorgensen too enjoyed a good start, beating Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 21-15, 21-19.
Indonesia also suffered two bitter blows after Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari and Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan exited the Finals.
After Maheswari suffered a cramp in the Women’s Doubles Group B match, Ahsan had a recurrence of a back injury which forced the defending Men’s Doubles champions to retire.
The world’s best badminton players will battle for supremacy at the BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals this weekend.
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The entry list is impressive in an event that Dubai is hosting for the first time, with the eight top-ranked players in the men’s and women’s singles, doubles and mixed doubles in action.
Players from China, India, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan, Denmark and Indonesia feature in the event, which runs until Sunday.
Olympic bronze medallist and world No2 Chen Long of China headlines the men’s singles field, which also features European champion and world No3 Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark.
In the women’s singles event, 2010 Asian champion Wang Shixian of China is the highest ranked player, while compatriot Wang Yihan, winner of the 2011 world championships and silver medallist at London 2012, is also in the fray.
Standing in their way for glory is India’s star player Saina Nehwal, ranked fourth in the world, who will be looking to add to her Australian Open and China Open Super Series Premier titles this year.
You can watch the action unfold at the Hamdan Sports Complex with tickets starting from Dh20 for today’s action, while it’s Dh25 for the final three days.
There are a range of activities lined up for spectators including a climbing wall, a badminton court and an opportunity to get an autograph in the Fan Zone.
Thomas Lund, BWF secretary general, said: “It’s not every day that sports fans get to watch elite athletes play in their country. We hope Dubai residents will come out to cheer on these world-class players as well as to see the incredible sports presentation which has been planned.”
Dr Aysha Albusmait, director of communication and marketing at Dubai Sports Council, said: “The BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals will provide spectators the opportunity to watch world-class badminton for the first time in Dubai.”
Spectators can look forward to some thrilling matches. Long is the top-ranked player in the men’s event and has been drawn against fourth seed Son Wan-Ho, Japanese ninth seed Kenichi Tago, who won gold in the New Delhi leg of the Thomas Cup, and Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (seventh seed).
In Group B, Jorgensen has been drawn alongside Kidambi Srikanth, who will be looking to carry on his impressive form after shocking two-time Olympic winner and five-time world champion Lin Dan in the 2014 China Open, to become the first Indian to win a Super Series Premier Men’s title. Japan’s Kento Momota (sixth seed) and world bronze medallist Tommy Sugiarto (eighth seed) complete the line-up.
The competition also looks set to be fierce in the women’s event. Shixian and Nehwal are favourites to advance to the semi-finals, but will be wary of South Korean duo sixth seed Sung Ji-hyun, who stunned Schixian at this year’s Asian championships, and Bae Yeon-joo (eighth seed).
Group B consists of Yihan, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon (fifth seed), seventh seed Tai Tzu-ying (Taiwan) and Japanese ninth seed Akane Yamaguchi.
WHAT: BWF Destination Dubai World Superseries Finals
WHEN: Today’s matches begin at 09:00, while the action gets underway from 13:00 on Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s final to start at 14:30.
WHERE: Hamdan Sports Complex, Dubai
Sport360 VERDICT: A great chance to see some thrilling matches between the world’s best.
CONTACT: Ticket can be bought on www.ticketmaster.ae or by phoning 800 86 823. For more information, visit www.destinationdubai.ae