2020 didn’t start on a brighter note for our women badminton players. Saina and P.V. Sindhu both crashed out from the quarterfinals of the Malaysian Masters here on Friday. Sindhu was knocked out by top seed Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, while Saina was shown the door by Olympic champion Spaniard Carolina Marin.
Marin did not have to sweat much to beat Saina as she won the game in exactly 30 minutes to beat her 8-21, 7-21. Saina didn’t really look comfortable against Marin who was at her aggressive best. Saina committed a lot of unforced errors which made it easier for Marin to pocket the game and enter the Semifinals. Before entering into the match Saina had a 50-50 record against Marin, winning 6 and losing 6.
Tzu Ying ranked second in the world, defeated the Rio Olympics silver-medallist Sindhu 21-16 21-16 in the quarterfinal, extending her head-to-head record to 12-5. This was Sindhu’s 2nd consecutive loss to Ying. Sindhu had also lost to her in last year’s French Open quarterfinals.
Further, Sindhu struggled against her opponent being too erratic in the first set. She took leads but failed and eventually lost the game with the score of 16-21. In the 2nd set, she saved 6 match points but it was too late by then and she lost the game.
This is not good news at the start of the year considering it’s an Olympic year. It’s a known fact that Saina has been struggling with injuries for the past 3-4 years now. It’s to be noted that the 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist Saina crashed out of the 2016 Olympics in the first round itself. She underwent surgery after that and since then hasn’t been able to perform well. It’s only hoped that this year she achieves her full fitness and makes India proud again at the games.
The loss of Sindhu’s should worry us a bit considering it was only in August that she won her first Gold at the BWF World Championship. She had completely pulled off the finals and it was expected that she would be more consistent after that, however, after winning the championship she hasn’t played much and she looked a bit rusty in the Malaysian Masters. The Tokyo Olympics begin on July 24th and before that both our star players will have a chance to regain their form in the Australian Open, England Open and the Indian Open tournaments.
Looking at the history of both these players it could be hoped that they will make a strong comeback from this loss.