Aparna, Kanetkar get easy first rounds

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The Indian badminton contingent had mixed luck in terms of draw for the Olympics.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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New Delhi:

The Indian badminton contingent had mixed luck in terms of draw for the Olympics as Aparna Popat and Nikhil Kanetkar find themselves pitted against relatively easier opponents in the opening round, while Abhinn Shyam Gupta runs into a top-ranked player. According to the draw released by the International Badminton Federation today, world number 27 Popat will take on African champion and 64th ranked Michelle Edwards of South Africa in the first round of the women's singles event. The only trouble for Popat in the first round could be her unfamiliarity of the opponent. Popat has never faced Edwards before and even though it might appear an easy outing for her, she would surely have to guard against any surprises. In the men's singles, Kanetkar will play top Spanish shuttler Sergio Llopis. Though Llopis, ranked 44th in the World, is four places above Kanetkar in the rankings, the Indian is considered to be the favourite to move into the second round as he had comfortably won the only encounter between the two at the Mauritius Open last year. But it would not be an easy outing for Gupta who will have to take on World No 16 Tae Sang Park of Korea in the opening round. (PTI)