Saina Nehwal, Carolina Marin bemoan packed 2018 global badminton calendar
At the sidelines of a Premier Badminton League (PBL) event, Saina Nehwal says the packed Badminton World Federation (BWF) calendar would sap the energy of the elite players while, Carolina Marin says it would be next to impossible to stay consistent.Updated: Dec 20, 2017 19:55 IST
Saina Nehwal and Carolina Marin have had an intense rivalry on the badminton court over the years, but the two former top-ranked shuttlers were on the same page on Wednesday, criticising the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for the crammed 2018 calendar.
Both Saina and Carolina believe the packed calendar will leave hardly any time for the players to recover from injuries or be at their best in important tournaments.
“The current fixture list is too gruelling for the badminton players. World Championships take half your energy, and if you have a big tournament lined up in just two weeks, you are challenging yourself mentally and physically. If someone is nursing an injury, there is no time for the player to recuperate,” Saina told Hindustan Times on the sidelines of the Premier Badminton League official press conference.
THE TENNIS MODEL
“I believe badminton should follow the tennis model where you have 4-5 Grand Slam-like tournaments in a year with big money and big exposure. That will allow the players to stay fit and give their hundred percent in every game,” the Awadhe Warriors marquee women’s singles player added.
According to BWF rules, it is mandatory for top shuttlers in all divisions to play at least 12 tournaments in a revamped schedule for 2018. As a result, the gap between top tournaments has shrunk. With the 2018 Commonwealth Games and Asian Games in the mix, most players will hardly get any time to recover.
Carolina Marin, the Spanish Olympic champion and former world No 1 who will play for Hyderabad Hunters in the PBL, echoed Saina’s sentiments. She said no player can maintain her dominance throughout the year because of the sheer number of matches scheduled within a short span of time.
“The schedule next year is going to be crazy. After PBL (Dec 23-Jan 14), we will have three tournaments, and during the season we will have so many tournaments. It would be tough for all and that is why it is really difficult for a player to be at the top consistently,” Marin told Hindustan Times.
- All top players will have to play at least 12 tournaments in 2018.
- There will be 5 Superseries Premier tournaments in 2018.
- There will be 7 Superseries tournaments in 2018.
- There will be 13 Grand Prix Gold tournaments in 2018.
- BWF have announced a new tournament level above the Superseries Premier for the 2018-2021 cycle.
- Tai Tzu-ying (5) was the only women’s singles player to win more than 2 major titles in 2017.
- The 2018 calendar includes the world championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.
The statement accurately reflects the concerns of the players if one goes by the Superseries and Superseries Premier tournaments of 2017. The seven Superseries and six Superseries Premier events produced seven different women’s singles winners with the Taiwanese world No 1 Tai Tzu-ying the only player to win more than two titles.
Despite the tough schedule, Japanese women shuttlers were top performers in 2017. They reached the semis of almost all the major tournaments, and seven out of 13 Superseries finals featured Japanese competitors. Sayaka Sato and Nozumi Okuhara clinched a Superseries title each in Indonesia and Australia respectively, but it was Dubai Super Series Final winner Akane Yamaguchi who was the most successful among the Japanese players with two titles.
“The Japanese players have improved a lot and it is clear from how they have performed this year. Look at how Akane (Yamaguchi) played against (PV) Sindhu in the Dubai final. Sindhu had height advantage, but she was able to chase down and win really difficult points,” Saina said.