Shuttler Sindhu aims to end blazing year on a high note

Dubai, Dec 13 (IANS) Indian badminton star P.V. Sindhu will look to cap a stunning year when she opens her BWF Superseries Finals campaign against Akane Yamaguchi of Japan here on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old rose to the occasion at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games where she finished runner-up to two-time reigning world champion Carolina Marin of Spain.

Later, on the professional circuit, she took home the China Open title and lost in the final of the French Open, enabling her entry into the year-closing tournament where only top eight professionals of the year compete.

All these achievements make an indelible year for the young Hyderabadi, who rose from the shadows of her illustrious citymate Saina Nehwal. The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Saina, will miss the Superseries Finals for the first time since 2010, thanks to injuries.

Double World Championship bronze medallist Sindhu has been clubbed with World No.8 Yamaguchi, No.2 Carolina and No.6 Sun Yu of China in Group B, with top two performers qualifying for the semi-finals, scheduled for Saturday.

“It’s good to be here in Dubai. It’s my first time at the Dubai World Superseries Finals. My draw is tough. I have to play well from the start,” Sindhu told Badminton World Federation (BWF)’s website after receiving the Most Improved Player award.

“I didn’t expect to get this award, so I’m excited and happy,” said the world No.10.

Sindhu has kept this tournament specially in mind and preferred not to defend her Macau Open Grand Prix Gold title, which she had held since the last three years.

First task for Yamaguchi against whom the Indian has a 2-1 head-to-head record. The Japanese has improved a lot in recent years and will pose challenges.

Meanwhile, the Group A consists of new World No.1 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, South Korea’s Sung Ji-hyun, Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand and China’s He Bingjiao.

In the men’s competition, Malaysian veteran Lee Chong Wei and Danish star Jan ‘O’ Jorgensen will headline the two groups. Olympic champion Chen Long and Chinese veteran Lin Dan are not participating in the tournament to be played at the Hamdan Sports Complex.