Saina Nehwal has a mind of her own. But sometimes, she surely takes longer than expected to make up her mind. This time, the delay in deciding has cost Saina $250.
On Wednesday afternoon, Saina flew out of the city within two hours of informing the Tournament Director of her decision to withdraw from the on-going Syed Modi Memorial Grand Prix Gold badminton championship owing to “flu and cold.”
Soon after Saina's first-round rival Chinese Taipei's Hsiao Ma Pai was informed of the withdrawal, National coach P. Gopi Chand held an impromptu press conference to throw light on the turn of events.
“Saina tried her best to play here, but could not. She has had a hectic schedule in the past months. And she is due to play in the Korea and Malaysia Open in the first fortnight of January. After playing some tough matches against some of the world's best players last week, Saina is obviously very tired and suffered a strain. Once here, Saina consulted a doctor who advised her three-day rest. There is no point in risking an injury,” explained Gopi Chand.
Interestingly, earlier this month, Saina had written to the organiser indicating her wish to skip the event. She finally landed here via New Delhi after returning from the World Series Finals in China. She made an appearance during the inaugural ceremony on Tuesday evening and also on Wednesday morning before catching an afternoon flight to Hyderabad.
Considering the fact the Badminton Association of India (BAI) President Akhilesh Das Gupta and Secretary Vijai Sinha hail from the city, the pressure on Saina to play here was understandable. But the timely bout of “cold and flu” seems to have saved the situation for Saina and the host.
To resume training
Having got the much-needed rest to recuperate ahead of next month's Korea Open and Malaysia Open, both elite events, Saina will soon resume training.
P. Kashyap also joined Saina on the “casualty list” and withdrew before his second round match. In the morning, the 10th seed expectedly beat Sagar Chopda but in the process, suffered a hamstring strain and promptly withdrew.
Meanwhile, with the Indian seniors cutting a sorry figure, it was left to the young talent to salvage some pride for the host.
After H.S. Prannoy packed off former World and Olympic bronze medallist Sony Dwi Kuncoro in straight games in the opening round, Sameer Varma stunned third seed and world No. 19 Dane Vittinghus Hans-Kristian 11-21, 21-15, 25-23 in 57 minutes. However, Prannoy surrendered to the eighth-seeded Indonesian Yunus Alamsyah.
In the women's section, Neha Pandit and P.V. Sindhu survived the first round.
The results (involving Indians):Men singles: Second round: Misbun Ramdan Mohmed Misbun (Mas) bt Eshan Naqvi 21-19; Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka (Ina) bt Sumeeth Reddy 21-14, 21-19; Sourabh Verma bt Pakkwat Vilailak (Tha) 18-21, 21-13, 21-11; Wing Ki Wong (HK) bt K. Srikanth 23-21, 21-19; Rohit Yadav bt Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk (Tha) 10-21, 21-19, 22-20; Sameer Varma bt Vittinghus Hans-Kristian (Den) 11-21, 21-14, 25-23; Zulfadli Zulkiffli (Mas) w/o P. Kashyap, walkover; Yunus Alamsyah (Ina) bt H.S. Prannoy 21-14, 21-11; R.M.V. Gurusaidutt bt Mohit Kamat 21-5, 21-14.
First round: Naqvi bt Gaurav Venkat 21-12, 21-7; Reddy bt Rasheed Ajfan (Mdv) 21-10, 21-7; Tommy Sugiarto (Ina) bt Aditya Elango 21-11, 21-13; Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin (Mas) bt K. Nandagopal 20-22, 21-16, 21-12; Pakkawat Vilailak (Tha) bt Ajay Jayaram 21-19, 21-19; Sourabh Verma bt Kwong Beng Chan (Mas) 21-8, 21-12; Yun Hu (HK) bt Anup Sridhar 21-19, 21-16; Jen Hao Hsu (Tpe) bt Anand Pawar 21-18, 21-18; Yong Zhao Ashton Chen (Sin) bt Manish Gupta 21-13, 21-14; Zi Liang Derek Wong (Sin) bt Ajay Kumar 21-17, 21-18; K. Srikanth bt Muhammad Syawal Mohammad Ismail (Mas) 21-18, 22-20; Wing Ki Wong (HK) bt B. Sai Praneeth 23-21, 21-19; Rohit Yadav bt Ankush Joshi 21-11, 21-11; Sameer Verma bt Dharma Alrei Guna (Ina) 21-13, 21-7; Kashyap bt Sagar Chopda 21-14, 21-14; H. S. Prannoy bt Sony Dwi Kuncoro (Ina) 21-16, 21-15; Yunus Alamsyah (Ina) bt Vinay Kumar Reddy 21-14, 21-16; Mohit Kamat bt Arvind Bhat 21-15, 21-16; R.M.V. Gurusaidutt bt Akshit Mahajan 21-5, 21-14.
Women singles: First round: Hsiao Ma Pai (Tpe) w/o Saina Nehwal; Manuputi Belaetrix (Ina) bt Tanvi Lad 21-14, 19-21, 21-13; Neha Pandit bt Dhanya Nair 21-13, 21-8; Tsz Ka Chan (HK) bt Aditi Mutatkar 21-15, 22-24, 21-17; Ratchanok Inthanon (Tha) bt Arundhati Pantawane 21-16, 20-22, 21-8; Juan Gu (Sin) bt P. C. Thulasi 21-13, 21-15; Maria Febe Kusumastuti bt Anita Ohlan 21-6, 21-14; Eriko Hirose bt Sayali Gokhale 21-11, 19-21, 21-14; P.V. Sindhu bt Mohita Sahdev 21-3, 21-10; Thi Trang Vu (Vie) bt Mudra Dhainje 23-21, 21-17.