BADMINTON Other Sports

Syed Modi event: Saina’s ‘skip’ saga continues

Saina Nehwal.  

The growing fears of the organisers of the $120,000 Syed Modi International badminton championship came true on Monday afternoon. For the fourth time since December 2011, Saina Nehwal decided to withdraw from the premier event.

A day after winning the Malaysia Masters, Saina sent a mail to the organisers on the eve of the Grand Prix Gold event, stating, “The competition was really tough for me in Malaysia Open and last two [weeks] were really tough with PBL; so total of three weeks back-to-back tough matches. As of now, I’m feeling some pain in my knee because the courts were really hard. Here, I need some time break (sic) for my knee so that I don’t push the knee too much, with so many tough matches, without getting full fitness and strength in my knee. So I request you to kindly withdraw my name from Lucknow GP Gold tournament.”

Prominent male players who joined Saina in the list of withdrawn players were the top seeded Thai Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk, fourth seed Ajay Jayaram and 14th seed P. Kashyap, who hurt his shoulder during the Premier Badminton League final in New Delhi on January 14. Ladies’ seventh seed G. Ruthvika Shivani also pulled out.

Even though Saina officially withdrew from the event at 3:47 p.m., the organisers were expecting the second-seeded former champion to cite such a reason to stay away.

Saina has a valid reason this time. She underwent a knee-surgery post Rio Olympics last year and is yet to return to her peak fitness level. She did make a hurried comeback within three months of the surgery with an eye on a spot in the eight-player field for the year-ending BWF World Superseries Finals in Dubai. Eventually, Saina lost the eighth and final spot to P.V. Sindhu, who reached the semifinals of the event on debut.

Naturally, Saina’s withdrawal dampened the spirit of the organisers. “We wish Saina speedy recovery. At the same time, we cannot ignore the fact that the much-anticipated clash between top seed Sindhu and Saina wouldn’t take place here this month,” said a senior local official who has been associated with the event since its inception.

It may be recalled that, in the past, three-time champion Saina has regularly missed the event.

In December 2011, she cited fatigue and sudden fever, thereby allowing Chinese Taipie’s Ma Pai Hsiao an entry into the second round. In December, 2012, the Indian star decided to give up when holding two match-points at 21-17, 20-18 against Russia’s Ksenia Polikarpova in the first round. This did not go down well with the Badminton Association of India.

And last January, as the defending champion, Saina pulled out due to a foot-injury and fever. The ‘skip’ saga continues.


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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 10:52:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/Syed-Modi-event-Saina%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98skip%E2%80%99-saga-continues/article17084279.ece

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