One of India’s brightest medal prospects at the Olympics, in-form badminton star Saina Nehwal, will start her campaign tomorrow by taking on unheralded Swiss Sabrina Jaquet in her opening group match at the Wembley Arena here.

Fourth-seeded Saina is placed in Group E of the Olympic draw along with Sabrina and Lianne Tan of Belgium.

The 22-year-old Indian, who had reached the quarterfinals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is one of the favourites to win the gold, beside three Chinese players and Denmark’s Tine Baun and Germany’s Juliane Schenk.

Saina, who won two successive titles at Thailand Grand Prix Gold and Indonesia Superseries last month, is likely to play 14th seed Yao Jie of The Netherlands (Group F) if she reaches the pre-quarterfinals.

The world number five Hyderabadi is expected to face some tough time as the competition moves forward as she is likely to take on either two-time All England Champion Baun (Group G), seeded fifth, or 12{+t}{+h}-seeded Japanese Sayaka Sato (Group H) in the quarterfinals.

“That’s (winning a medal) a dream for every Indian and me. But I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself,” the 22-year-old, who missed out of a medal on her Olympic debut in Beijing following a quarterfinal defeat, has stated.

The World number five said she is expecting some good matches.

“The draw looks quite tough. I’ve played them before and they’ve given me challenges. I’m expecting good matches. But I’m just going to take it one match at a time,” she has said.

“I have developed as a player. This is my second Olympics and I want to be more relaxed and not take on too much pressure,” added Saina, who made her Olympic debut as an 18-year-old at the Beijing Games in 2008.

(This article was published on July 28, 2012)
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