It was widely expected that she would pull out, and she indeed has. World number 6 Saina Nehwal on Monday announced that she was withdrawing from the senior National Badminton championship that got underway in Mumbai yesterday.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI), after it took the unusual approach of preparing the draws for the open events, received an e-mail from the player in which she mentioned that she was pulling out due to tiredness after playing in the BWF Superseries Finals in Kuala Lumpur, according to Punniah Choudhary, the BAI Secretary (Events).
The reason it was widely expected was the past history associated with her. Saina in the past has made it a habit of pulling out of national events in the country citing a reason at the last minute after sending in her entry earlier.
In 2011, Saina reached Lucknow for the Grand Prix to be held there, attended the opening ceremony and then left Lucknow without even taking court. In 2012, at the same venue for the same event, she told the press that she would be playing, but rather surprisingly and unexpectedly withdrew while at match point in her first round match.
The BAI had taken a stance players need to compulsorily participate in the National championship for them to be eligible to play for India internationally.
There are no such withdrawals on the doubles side as Ashwini Ponnappa and Jwala Gutta are both taking part. The gold medallists from the previous Commonwealth Games are leaving no stone unturned in trying to get game time playing together under their belt as they prepare to defend their crown next year in Glasgow.
Last week at the Tata Open in Mumbai, the pair made the final, where they lost out to N Siki Reddy and Pradnya Gadre. Despite the loss, the two remained upbeat and were happy at the progress that they are making.
The qualifying rounds began yesterday and will continue today. The main rounds will begin on Thursday.
Defending champion Sayali Gokhale, seeded 7th this year, was drawn in the same half as Saina, and the latter’s withdrawal would be one obstacle less for the defending champ to tackle. The BAI has mentioned that the draw would not be changed.
8th seed Trupti Murgunde is set to potentially meet 4th seed Tanvi Lad in the quarter-finals, but she also has a tricky opponent in National junior champion Rituparna Das who she will have to get past first.
In the other half, 3rd seed Arundhati Pantawane has a good chance to make it to the semis and could run into last year’s runner-up and World Championship bronze medallist P.V. Sindhu.
In the men’s section 7th seed H.S. Prannoy will pose the first teal test for defending champion and top seed P. Kashyap in the quarters.
4th seed Anand Pawar has a very tough draw ahead of him as he has some dangerous opponents in his quarter that include former winner and 9th seed Arvind Bhat, and also 5th seed K. Srikanth.
3rd seed Ajay Jayaram, who has been the best performing men’s player for India internationally this season, is likely to face 6th seed Sai Praneeth in the quarters.
2nd seed Gurusaidutt could have a tricky pre-quarterfinal opponent in the form of one of two former champions – Sourabh Verma or Anup Sridhar.Published 17 Dec 2013, 17:31 IST