Top seeds out of India GP Gold, Saina stirs controversy
The USD 120,000 KL Garg-Syed Modi India GP Gold Badminton Championship got off to a shocking start Wednesday with both the stop seeds Saina Nehwal and Taufik Hidayat making a first round exit.
Saina, India's Olympic bronze medallist, stirred a controversy as she pulled out controversial circumstances despite being on match point.
The 22-year-old Saina was on match-point (21-17, 20-18) against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova. But suddenly she told the referee she could not continue due to knee problems and conceded the match.
Organisers were left fuming because Saina, who was not keen on playing, had already booked her return tickets to Hyderabad for Wednesday afternoon.
Saina, however, said she pulled out because she didn't want to strain her knee.
"My physio had told me that I should not put much pressure on my knee. I was playing well but suddenly I felt some problem in my knee, so I decided to quit," said the top seed after the match.
"Even when I was playing at the Super Series Finals, I had a taped knee. This could have aggravated if I had continued. So, I decided to back out," added the Hyderabadi.
In another upset of the day, Upcoming star Pratul Joshi, 18, stunned the top seed and former Olympic champion Taufiq Hidayat in the men's singles first round.
Joshi won 21-17, 21-12 win in 30 minutes. Joshi seemed as much surprised with the outcome as his Indonesian rival.
However, Joshi's joy in the morning session proved short-lived in the post-lunch session as he lost the next round 21-18, 16-21, 22-20 to Hidayat's compatriot, the other Indonesian Siswanto.
Though, overall, the boy from Dhar (Madhya Pradesh) hogged the limelight on the opening day with his giant-killing efforts and gutsy display before crashing out.
"He (Taufiq) is my idol. I was completely blank during the match. However, I have been studying his videos on Youtube. I guess it helped me a bit today. At my age, he (Taufiq) was already playing in the finals of the All-England," said the self-effacing Joshi.
Hidayat seemed upset with the result and blamed "bad stomach" for his tardy show on the court today.
"I had a bad stomach... and I was not feeling well," said the top seed Indonesian.
Apparently, Joshi was playing on painkillers due to a niggling bone injury, and it probably took a toll on him playing two high-pressure matches on the same day.
In other matches, Olympic quarterfinalists P Kashyap beat Russia's Vladmir Malkov 24-22, 16-21, 21-18 to enter the pre-quarterfinals in the men's singles.
Earlier, Indian star Ajay Jayram reached the men's round of 16 in style. The Mumbai-based shuttler beat Indonesian Sukamta Evert 21-9, 21-15 in the second round after an easy outing in the first against Russia's Nikita Khakimov (21-15, 21-13).
India's K Srikanth also entered the pre-quarters with a comfortable win over compatriot Vinay Kumar Reddy, winning 21-12, 21-12.
The second seeded player in the women's singles and world No.23, India's PV Sindhu cruised into the round of 16, with a 21-6, 21-12 win over Malaysia's Li Lian Yang.