In the final analysis, what matters is the result column. It doesn’t matter whether you played ugly or enthralled the crowd with a clinical performance or the victory was hard fought or straight forward.

Saina Nehwal and Kidambi Srikanth would just be happy that they survived to live another day in the 2019 edition of the All England championship that has seen all other Indians knocked out before they took court on the second day of competition.

So far so good for the two former world No 1s.

But as they prepare to take on the current world No 1s in their respective categories, there is no doubt that the Indian stars would have to pull some rabbit out of their hat to get the desired mention in the results column.

In the last few years, Tai Tzu Ying and Kenta Momota have had a stranglehold on their Indian counterparts and both Nehwal and Srikanth would know that a victory in their first meeting 2019 means. It would not just make them favourites to win the title in Birmingham but might even set the tone of the entire season.

Nehwal has now lost 12 straight matches to Tai since 2015. The Indian has struggled to tackle the guile and deception of her 24-year-old opponent who can play an array of strokes ranging from the flicks, sharp cross drops, down the line smashes and even the late net dribbles.

Such has been the lopsided nature of the contest that even Nehwal, who is known for her mental resolve and determination, could be heard telling court-side coach P Kashyap about the pressure she felt when holding four game points in the opening game against Tai in last year’s French Open quarter-final.

The 28-year-old Indian eventually lost the game and the match, their last face-off of 2018, and it does not help matters that Nehwal hasn’t started this tournament in the best of health. Meanwhile, the two-time defending champion seems to have completely recovered from her waist injury and has demolished her first two opponents with rather ease.

The Commonwealth Games gold medallist spoke about the bout of diarrhoea she suffered just before the opening match against Kristy Gilmour and if her performance against Line Kjaersfedlt in the second round was any indication, Nehwal clearly struggled to get going.

She admitted as much in the post match media interaction. “In this tournament I have not felt very well from the start as I have been suffering with diarrhoea but I am just going on with that. In the first set I felt I was not able to move as I was feeling really heavy and sluggish.

“In the second and third set I warmed up a bit more and got into the rhythm. I tried to catch her out as much as possible but it was not easy at all with the condition I am in,” she added.

Nehwal was repeatedly caught by Kjaersfedlt sharp cross court drops and quick clears in the opening game. But while she did manage to find a solution once the Dane started feeling the pressure, the quality of those strokes from Tai would be far more superior.

The only way to beat Tai, when she is not struggling from any injury, is to force her to play those extra strokes with superior retrieving skills and then pinning her to the back court. The 24-year-old has in the past shown tendency to lose her patience and start making flurry of errors.

With Nehwal not at her physical best, she may as well throw caution to the wind and try to think of this quarter-final encounter as just a two game dash to the finish.

Srikanth needs to be lot more patient

On the other hand, Srikanth would have to be a lot more patient against Momota and be prepared for a slug-fest if he aims to end the seven-match losing streak against the world champion.

Momota isn’t as domineering as Tai in terms of the audacity in stroke play but more than makes up for it with his error free playing style.

The Japanese rarely seems to take to many risks in trying to go for winners but has the knack of demolishing opponents by just pushing them to the brink of their patience.

Srikanth, meanwhile, loves to bulldoze his opponents with booming smashes, flicks and classy net dribbles. But he is also prone to a lot of mistakes as he showed during the three-game win over Asian gold medallist Jonatan Christie on Thursday.

This is precisely why he has struggled in slower court conditions in the past and above all has shown tendency to feel the heat in bigger encounters, that restricts his overall stroke play.

On Friday, Srikanth’s first challenge would be to settle his nerves soon and find the right rhythm required to engage Momota in a long haul. If he can do that, then the 26-year-old can fall back on his skills to make a dent in the Japanese defence with the flick and sliced smashes, the deceptive drops and the lightening taps on the net.

All in all, the quarter-final match up are the finals before the finals for both Nehwal and Srikanth. If they can scale this summit on Friday, a first All England title would be definitely within reach on Sunday.