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Confident Saina to take on the best

Paris: Saina Nehwal will carry a billion hopes when she takes the court in the World badminton Championship but the ace India shuttler remains quietly confident about her chances in the event which gets underway here tomorrow.

Saina, at a career-best world ranking of No. 2, has got a bye in the first round and will take on Hsiao Huan Chen of Chinese Taipei in the second round on Tuesday in the women's singles.

A title triumph will also pave the way to the numero uno status in world rankings but Saina said she is focussing on every match and not thinking about the title at the moment. “I am no longer scared of the Chinese players. I have put on a lot of hard work with Gopi sir and I am in my best form and shape. I just want to concentrate on the game and not worry about the title,” she said.

In the men's singles, Chetan Anand, who just recovered from a knee injury, and P. Kashyap will carry India's flag.

Return of Lin Dan

Lin Dan, the charismatic athlete who has a spectacular jump smash, and who has been described as the best badminton player ever, may make his first full length appearance of the year here on Monday.

Lin feels he has little left to aim for. “What more do I want to prove my worth?” Lin said after beating Lee Chong Wei, the world no. 1 from Malaysia, at the Thomas Cup finals in Kuala Lumpur in May.

The two are drawn to meet each other in the semi-finals next week, and though Lin is seeded only third, he is in many people's eyes the unofficial favourite to win the world title a fourth consecutive time.

China is favourite

The women's singles title has contenders from an interesting mix of nationalities, with Saina seeded second, and the recently married Tine Baun, the All-England Open champion from Denmark, seeded fourth. Wang Yihan from China is the top seed. China looks to be the favourite to win the women's singles, through Wang Yihan, and the women's doubles, through Ma Jin and Wang Jiaoli, and could easily take three if not four of the world titles.

Malaysia also has the top seeds in the men's doubles, Koo Kien Keat and Boon Heong, and Indonesia is seeded to win the mixed doubles, through Nova Widianto and Lilyana Natsir, who are twice former winners of this title. — Agencies

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