Come next Thursday, she won’t be world No 1 anymore. But don’t despair just yet. Saina Nehwal will reclaim the top spot as quickly as she lost it — in a week’s time. Reason? Two other claimants to the throne of women’s badminton are not travelling to Singapore for the Super Series event next week.
Neither Li Xuerui, who reclaimed the top spot from Saina after beating her Indian rival in the Malaysia Open Super Series Premier semifinal on Saturday, nor Carolina Marin have entered the Singapore Open. Eleventh-hour changes in plans are not permitted by the BWF – as per the regulations, entries for any Super Series “close five weeks before the first day of play. Entries will not be accepted after that date under any circumstances.”
The only occasion on which Li and Marin can earn ranking points, then, is when they take on each other in a repeat of last year’s World Championships final on Sunday.
Even if the result is the same as at Copenhagen’s Ballerup Super Arena in August, the Spaniard will only climb to 79,578 points, well short of Saina’s 80,191.
A win for Li, not impossible given that she leads Marin 3-1 in their head-to-head record, will see the new world No 1 go to 82,414. Next week, though, she will drop to 74,614 as she will lose 7,800 from last year’s runner-up finish at the Singapore Open. Saina won’t, though — the 2,200 she earned last year do not count towards her world ranking.
With no one else within 9,200 points (that’s how much the winner of the Singapore Open will earn) and the only other event next week belongs to a much lower tier (an International Series tournament in Croatia), the crown will be handed back to Saina on a platter next week even if she doesn’t show up in Singapore.