An accidental hit against the door is apparently costing Saina Nehwal dear. What initially appeared to be a minor bruise to her little toe turned out to be a hairline fracture and it has now forced the ace shuttler out of the Sudirman Cup to be held in Kuala Lumpur next week.
Only last week, Saina told ToI that she is keen on playing the team event despite aggravating the injury during the India Open. However, still feeling pain the Olympic bronze medalist decided not to take the risk and the withdrawal of the No.2 has dealt a major blow for India's hopes.
While the injury slammed the door on Saina's participation, it opened up a window of opportunity for PV Sindhu to wear the mantle of India's main hope at the event, as Saina's withdrawal just a week before the tournament has denied India the chance of naming a replacement. Sindhu will now be India's main hope in women's singles.
"It (withdrawal) was a difficult decision. I wanted to play but since the injury is yet to be healed, my team advised against playing," Saina said, adding that not seeing the doctor before the India Open was a mistake.
"A few days before the India Open I accidentally hit the door. I never thought I could have fractured my finger and went on to play the India Open. I met the doctor only after that. Had I met him before the tourney maybe I would not have played. I hope I would be fit for the next three tournaments - Thailand Grand Prix Gold, Indonesia Premier and Singapore Super Series - next month," she added.
By not featuring in the Sudirman Cup, Saina will also miss out on about five thousand ranking points.
Upset by the inevitable withdrawal of Saina, chief coach Pullela Gopichand said that they have to manage with the available resources. "It is very disappointing. Saina is such a crucial player for us and we badly miss her at such an important tournament. But we cannot risk the injury. Sindhu will be our backup and we hope to do well at the tournament," Gopi said.
India are clubbed with China and Indonesia in the group stage and have to beat at least one of them to progress to the next stage. But without their best player it would be very difficult for India at Kuala Lumpur.