London, Aug 2: It is a big day for Indian badminton today (Thursday). The Wembley Arena here could witness Indian shuttlers creating history in Olympics.
P Kashyap and Saina Nehwal, both will be in action in their respective quarter-final matches at the London Olympics 2012. Both players, hailing from Hyderabad, could bring great joy to their city and Indian badminton fraternity.
We are talking about something special happening as no Indian has ever reached Olympics singles semi-finals in badminton.
Kashyap has already created history on Wednesday by becoming the first Indian male player to reach the last eight stage. Saina had entered quarter-finals in Beijing 2008 and here she is again, in the same situation.
The 22-year-old Saina will be keen to forget Beijing experience where she failed to cross the last eight hurdle.
"This is not big news (reaching quarter-finals) as I was here last time too (Beijing 2008). I want to do well and reach the semi-finals," said Saina.
The best thing which has happened to Indian badminton in the last five years is the arrival of Saina. She has seen as a big medal hope this time after winning three titles (Swiss Open, Thailand Open, Indonesia Open) this year.
Saina, the world number five, will be up against Tine Baun of Denmark. They have met earlier on six occasions and the exchanges stand at 3-3. Today, it will be another test for both players on a big stage like Olympics.
There is always pressure playing at Olympics. But Saina being the younger between the two could hold edge. The same was on view when Saina's rival Jie Yao of The Netherlands. Yao, who is 35 years, seemed tiring as the match went on.
The whole of India will be hoping that Saina continues her good run and takes another step towards a medal.
For Kashyap, his opponent will be the world number two Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. The 25-year-old Kashyap is ranked 21 in the world. It will be a tough contest. But there have been upsets before and the Indian can give his best to get the better of his rival.
Wei and Kashyap have met only once before. That was in 2011 when the Malaysian won comfortably 21-11, 21-13 at the Denmark Open.
Key for Kashyap will be to have that self-belief that he can do it again. His coach Pullela Gopichand could be a big inspiration by the court-side when the match is on.
By tonight, Indian badminton could have some great news.
Women's Singles Quarter-finals
Saina Nehwal (World No. 5) Vs Tine Baun (World No. 7) (Match starts 6.32 PM IST)
Previous meetings (3-3)
Malaysia Open (13.1.2012) Saina won 21-13, 21-23, 21-13
BWF World Super Series 2011 (17.12.2011) Saina won 21-17, 21-18
Hong Kong Open 2011 (18.11.2011) Baun won 21-16, 21-15
Indonesia Open (24.06.2011) Saina won 21-19, 21-19
All England Super Series 2010 (13.03.2010) Baun won 21-19, 21-17
Hong Kong Super Series 2007 (27.11.2007) Baun won 21-15, 12-21, 21-16
Men's Singles Quarter-finals
P Kashyap (World No. 21) Vs Lee Chong Wei (World No. 2) (Match starts 9.32 PM IST)
Previous meeting (Wei 1-0)
Denmark Open (19.10.2011) Wei won 21-11, 21-13
Note: Timings subject to change.