Badminton coach Vimal Kumar has opined that rigorous scheduling, dictated by television coverage, affected Saina Nehwal's performance in the semi-final of the recently-concluded BWF World Championships in Glasgow.
Badminton fans in India were anticipating an all-India Women's singles final as both PV Sindhu and Saina had entered the semi-final stages of the world meet on Saturday, August 26.
Saina affected by fatigue
While Sindhu demolished her last-four opponent Chen Yufei of China in straight games, Saina stumbled in the semi-final against eventual champion Nozomi Okuhara, settling for a Bronze. It was surprising to see the London Olympic bronze medallist go down in three games after she had taken the first game with ease.
Towards the end of her 21-12, 17-21, 10-21 loss to Okuhara on Saturday, Saina was running out of breath and looked visibly affected by fatigue. The speed with which she had moved on the courts and silenced her critics was lacking. And the Japanese shuttler took advantage and made the final.
The 54-year-old tactician, who trains Saina in Bengaluru at the Prakash Padukone Academy, says his ward did not have enough time to recover from a gruelling 74-minute quarter-final match against Scotland's Kirsty Gilmour on Friday, August 25. The Indian shuttler had to play her semi-final match early as in the morning session on Saturday.
Notably, Sindhu, who played in the morning session on Friday, had enough time to prepare for her semi-final outing against Sun Yu of China as the match was scheduled for Saturday evening.
'Saina had good track record against Okuhara'
"I feel sad for Saina. She didn't get enough time to recover for the semifinal match. She had a late quarterfinal match and then she had to play in the morning. I think the overall scheduling was a problem," Vimal said.
He added: "Saina had a good track record against Okuhara and she won the first game playing at a good pace. She is extremely good in slow conditions. She always tries to tire out her opponents and then counter attack... She didn't have as great a recovery as Okuhara had.
"Scheduling shouldn't be dictated by TV. I will hold the technical official responsible for this. They should ensure that players get enough time to recover. This is an issue and it needs to be taken up with the officials."
Vimal also spoke of how reigning Olympic champion Chen Long and India's Kidambi Srikanth's performances were also affected by poor scheduling. Notably, the Chinese star was beaten by eventual champion Viktor Axelsen in the semi-final, which was played in the morning session on Saturday.