Viktor Axelsen, HS Prannoy, Carolina Marin condemn BWF’s new service rule
Days after top shuttlers have expressed their displeasure over Badminton World Federation’s calendar for 2018, the sport's governing body was once again on the receiving end for its proposed new service rule that will be introduced at the All England Championships in March 2018.
Top shuttlers led by World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen came out to slam the new rule which mandates that “the whole of the shuttle shall be below 1.15 metres from the surface of the court at the instant of being hit by the server’s racket”.
The previous rule, on the other hand, states that the shuttle must be below one's waist when it is hit. To be precise, the maximum height is with the lowest part of one's ribcage.
Axelsen felt it is “unfair” to the doubles players who physically can’t change how tall they are. He said, “I think it’s a ridiculous rule. You don’t lower the basket in basketball because taller players have an easier time dunking. I know there might be some issues in men’s doubles but I don’t think a fixed height will change it. This will just be making things harder for taller players who can't physically change how tall they are. It's not fair at all. It’s not fair at all. It think it’s really a bad rule,”
Axelsen condemned the rule after leading the Bengaluru Blasters to a 5-2 win over the Delhi Dashers in their Premier Badminton League Season 3 opener. "For me personally, I will figure it out but for taller players like (Vladimir) Ivanov and (Mads Pieler) Kolding, it will be tough."
He also felt that it’s even “ridiculous” to try out the new rule at the All England Championships, which is the most traditional tournament in the BWF calendar. The badminton powerhouse, who has already protested the proposed rule in a video his social media account, hoped that the other players would join him voicing against the rule.
“I am trying to do what I can you know, by saying my opinion like I am doing right now and speaking out on social media. I don’t think BWF is going to change the rule just because I don’t like it. Hopefully, other players join me if they feel the same way because it’s our job to speak out.”
Indian stalwart P.V. Sindhu had also opined the same. “From my side, it’s just that it could have come at a better time, a different tournament instead of the All England Championships, because it is a very prestigious tournament for everybody,” the World No. 3 had said.
Meanwhile, reigning Olympic champion Carolina Marin called the rule “stupid”. “The problem would be for the doubles players, not so much for the singles. Maybe it is something bit of stupid to do it but let's see how it works. It will affect players who are very tall."
World No. 10 HS Prannoy was also on the same page, adding that the new rule will make the matches more interesting.
“It’s going to be really tough for doubles players who are tall and serves according to the current rule, to get their racquet down and get it below 1.15m. For the singles players, they will still have the leverage to do the forehand service if nothing works. It is surely going to be interesting but a tough development for many players,” Prannoy told this correspondent.
Prannoy, the costliest buy at PBL Season 3 having been bought by new team Ahmedabad Smash Masters, felt that players like Lee Chong Wei who has one type of service style will face difficulty.
“Personally for me, I don’t really know. I am also a little bit on the taller side but luckily for me, I have learnt three-four different types of services in the past. So, I’m not really tensed about it. I think it would a problem for players who have only one type of service like Lee Chong Wei or Chen Long. They do keep changing the way they serve but the action is same.
Compatriot Kidambi Srikanth, who sizzled on the court with four Superseries titles in 2017, said that the new rule would be a challenge for players who are over six feet tall. For him, though he doesn’t see much of an impact in his game. “When the backhand service rule was introduced, players found it tough initially but they got used to it gradually. I believe when this becomes an official rule, everyone will get used to it,” added the World No. 3, not wanting to read too much into the new rule.