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Saina starts her quest for Olympic medal against Swiss Sabrina

Saina Nehwal will commence her quest for an Olympic medal against unheralded Sabrina Jaquet of Switzerl and on July 28.

 The draw for London Olympics badminton event was held on Monday at the Main Press Center of the Olympic Park in London and Saina was clubbed in Group E along with Sabrina and Lianne Tan of Belgium.

The 22-year-old Indian ace, who reached the quarter-finals in the 2008 Olympics at Beijing, is among the front-runners for gold along with three Chinese players.

Saina, who won successive titles at the Thailand Grand Prix Gold and Indonesia Super Series last month, is likely to play 14th seed Yao Jie of The Netherlands (Group F) in the pre-quarter-finals.

The world No 5 Hyderabadi faces tougher competition in the quarter-finals, as she could meet either two-time All England champion Tine Baun (Group G), who is seeded fifth, or 12th seed Japanese, Sayaka Sato (Group H).

In the men’s singles, world No 21 P Kashyap is clubbed with 10th seeded Vietnamese Nguyen Tien Minh and Tan Yuhan of Belgium in Group D.

The Commonwealth bronze medallist Indian has beaten Nguyen twice, while against Tan holds a 1-1 record.

Going by his recent form, Kashyap could top the group and take on eighth seed Japanese Kenichi Tago (Group C) in the round of 16.In the women’s doubles, Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa are drawn with the fourth seeded Japanese pair of Mizuki Fujii and Reika Kakiiwa, Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin of Chinese Taipei and Singapore’s Shinta Sari Mulia and Yao Lei in Group B.

The Indian pair has a 1-2 record against the Japanese duo, while they lost thrice to the Singapore combo.

In the mixed doubles, V Diju-Jwala Gutta have been clubbed in Group C along with third seed Indonesians Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir, Danes Thomas Laybourn-Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Koreans Lee Yong Dae-Ha Jung Eun.

The world No 4 Indonesian pair beat the Indian duo once, while the eighth-ranked Danish combo has a 2-0 record against Jwala-Diju.

With the Korean combo, the Indians have a 1-1 record.

The badminton event starts on Saturday at the Wembley Arena. A total of five events will be contested — men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles.

In the singles, only the 16 group winners will qualify for the pre-quarter-finals.

In the doubles, the top two each from the four groups qualify for the quarter-finals.

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