Reigning world champion Nozomi Okuhara will not be part of the elite eight-member field at the Dubai World Superseries Finals starting December 13. The Japanese shuttler has pulled out of the year-ending tournament due to a knee injury.
The 22-year-old, who played a marathon gold medal match against India's PV Sindhu at the World Championships in Glasgow this year, finished below the top eight spots in BWF rankings, but was offered a wild card for winning the world meet in August.
The 2015 champion will not be availing the wild card due to the injury, according to Japan's national coach Park Joo-bong. Japan will thus be represented by top-seed and world number two Akane Yamaguchi.
"It will be an inconvenience if she pulls out after entering the competition," Joo-bong was quoted by The Japan Times as saying.
Notably, Okuhara skipped the Hong Kong Open after picking up the knee injury last month, which also forced her to withdraw from the China Open as early as in the first round.
China's Chen Yufei, who is in the eighth spot on Dubai Destination Rankings, will thus retain her berth to Dubai.
Meanwhile, India will be represented at the season finale by Sindhu (women's singles) and Kidambi Srikanth (men's singles). The latter will be seeded as high as number two because the Guntur shuttler won a record-equalling four Superseries titles in 2017.
London Olympics bronze medallist Saina Nehwal will miss out on the Superseries Finals for the second straight year.
Despite winning a bronze medal at the World Championships, the 27-year-old inconsistency in the Superseries circuit cost her a place among the top-eight shuttlers, who will battling for supremacy in Dubai.