The Senior National Badminton championship suffered a double blow on Monday when the men's and women's defending champions Chetan Anand and Saina Nehwal pulled out citing injuries.
World No. 10 Saina has injured her playing shoulder while Chetan is nursing a right thigh injury. Saina was in line for a hattrick in the 73rd edition of the championship, scheduled to start in Indore on February 10. But the 18-year-old decided to opt out of both the team and individual tournament following the diagnosis by physiotherapist Heath Mathews who arrived in Hyderabad on Saturday to assess the extent of injury to Saina's shoulder.
"I was having the shoulder pain on and off for last five months. But earlier this week it aggravated I and could not lift my shoulder. After assessing my injury, Heath told me to take immediate rest so as not to aggravate the injury," Saina told HT over phone from Hyderabad.
Chetan decided to opt out with an eye on the season ahead. " I also don't want to risk things since there are many big tournaments coming ahead including the India Open in March," Chetan said. Petroleum Sports Promotion Board team manager Tilak Raj said Ajay Jayaram would replace Chetan in the team championship. Neha Pandit would be the top seed in the women's singles.
Aravind Bhat would lead the men's rankings.