HS Prannoy, Lakshya Sen late pullouts from Syed Modi badminton
The men’s field will also miss the Chinese players. Former world No.1, Kidambi Srikanth, is India’s top player.
The Syed Modi India International Badminton Championships faced a significant setback as India’s top two male shuttlers, world No.8 HS Prannoy and world No.17 Lakshya Sen, withdrew at the last minute, leaving the BWF World Super 300 event here diminished.
Uttar Pradesh Badminton Association, the organisers, confirmed on Tuesday the late withdrawals that happened while the draws were being finalised on Monday evening. Asian Games bronze medallist Prannoy, who had recovered from a back injury to reach the semifinals at the China Masters Super 750 last week, arrived on Monday but confirmed his withdrawal before catching a flight out of Lucknow.
“Both Prannoy and Sen cited injuries for their withdrawals,” UPBA secretary Sudharma Singh said. “Lakshya’s father DK Sen conveyed the message of his withdrawal to us. It’s disappointing, but we can’t do anything.”
At the 2012 Syed Modi tournament Saina Nehwal "retired” on match point against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova, citing a knee injury. The Badminton Association of India (BAI) officials were unimpressed and claimed that she had already booked her return tickets for that evening. Saina, however, stated that she withdrew because she didn’t want to put pressure on her knee.
“Such acts rob the sheen off the tournament. If you don’t want to play in an event, let the organisers know in advance so that they can rope in some other player. We put a lot of effort into organising an event and such last-minute withdrawals make things difficult for us,” said a BAI official on condition of anonymity. “BAI must ensure the participation of top shuttlers in all the domestic events.”
All Chinese players also withdrew at the last minute. “The Chinese too have withdrawn as they didn’t get visa,” Sudharma Singh said. The withdrawals of many key shuttlers have left World No. 24 Kidambi Srikanth with a brighter chance to go all the way. Tokyo Olympian B Sai Praneeth, Indonesian Masters Super 100 winner Kiran George and Priyanshu Rajawat, who won the Orleans Masters Super 300 title this year, are the other Indians in the draw. Twice former champion Sameer Verma got into the main draw through qualifying on Tuesday.
Former World No.1 and sixth seed Srikanth will open against Chinese Taipei’s Chia Hao Lee while Priyanshu will face Dmitriy Panarin of Kazakhstan. Kiran will take on a qualifier, and Praneeth, struggling with form, will face Japan’s second seed Kenta Nishimoto.
Verma, who is on a comeback after battling injuries, will take on Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei. Mithun Manjunath will meet France’s Alex Lanier, while former world junior silver medallist S Sankar Muthusamy Subramanian will play against Arnaud Merkle of France.
In women’s singles, Malvika Bansod, Aakarshi Kashyap, Unnati Hooda, Anupama Upadhyay, Ashmita Chaliha, Tanya Hemanth, Tasnim Mir and Ruthvika Shivani Gadde are in the fray.