Badminton Nationals: Sindhu enters quarters, Saina match postponed

BAI officials later convinced Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap and Sai Praneeth to play in the evening, and the association said it will fix the courts and also make arrangements on the cement courts at the Tarun Ram Phookan Indoor Stadium.

Saina Nehwal had a look at the surface and immediately made it clear that she won’t risk playing on it given that the All England Championships are around the corner.   -  PTI

Controversy erupted at the Senior National Badminton Championships on Thursday as defending champion Saina Nehwal refused to play her singles match, citing a “poor playing surface” at the venue in Guwahati.

The Olympic bronze-medallist, who had suffered a shin injury late last year, took the court after Sameer Verma conceded his men’s singles tie following a heel problem during his match.

Up against Shruti Mundada in the pre-quarterfinals, Nehwal had a look at the surface and immediately made it clear that she won’t risk playing on it given that the All England Championships are around the corner.

The officials, led by Omar Rashid, the Badminton Association of India Secretary for event, swung into action to sort out the issue. The BAI officials later convinced Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap and Sai Praneeth to play in the evening.

“The wooden planks came out at a couple of places after Sindhu played her match. So they are now going to fix it. We will come back in the evening to play our pre-quarterfinal matches,” Kashyap, Nehwal’s husband, said.

Read: Sindhu positive about India's chances at All England

The championships are being played on three courts at the Assam Badminton Academy.

Kashyap, who was also there to play his men’s singles pre-quarterfinal match, went to the adjacent second court and inspected that as well along with Nehwal.

P. V. Sindhu had competed on the same court in the morning, clinching a straight-game 21-11 21-13 win over Malvika Bansod in the women’s singles pre-quarterfinals.

Rashid said the BAI will fix the courts and also make arrangements on the cement courts at the Tarun Ram Phookan Indoor Stadium.

“The surface became uneven at a couple of places, so three players have refused to play. We will fix the problem here and also make arrangements in the indoor stadium,” Rashid said.

“It is up to them where they want to play. They have agreed to play the pre-quarterfinals in the evening. The rest of the players will play both their pre-quarters and quarters today itself,” he added.