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September 13, 2000
Gopi, Aparna get tough draws
National men's and women's singles champions Pullela Gopichand and Aparna Popat have discovered to their dismay that they will be pitted against tough opponents at the start of their campaign in the Olympic Games badminton competition.
The Hyderabad-based Gopichand, who is ranked 10th in the world, got a bye in the first round but has drawn a strong opponent in Ukraine's Vladislav Druzchenko in the men's singles second round.
If the Indian ace beats his Ukrainian rival he will be up against Indonesian star Hendrawan, who is seeded second.
Gopi, who described Druzchenko as a good player who is also very fit, said: "I have never played him before but have a strategy in mind to tackle him," before adding he is not unduly worried about meeting tough opponenents very early.
The Bombay-born, Bangalore-based Aparna, who lost three months of match practice due to the ban imposed on her by the International Badminton Federation for taking a banned medication to treat her cold, has also got the rough end of the draw in the women's singles event.
The former World junior runner-up will meet Kelly Morgan of Britain in her first match.
Aparna, who is with the Prakash Padukone academy now, had lost to the British woman on both occasions the two had clashed in the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games - - once in the team event and again in the women's singles final.
"It will be tough, and I have to give my best," the quiet but confident lady said.
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