The latest world rankings released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Tuesday, January 21, 2020 did not prove to be favourable for India’s top shuttlers. In fact, Saina Nehwal, who could not emulate her winning feat at last year’s Indonesia Masters this time, fell out of the World top-16 for the first time in over 10 years. The 29-year-old shuttler dropped six places to 18th.
Meanwhile, India’s highest-ranked singles shuttlers, PV Sindhu and B Sai Praneeth, held on to their respective sixth and 11th positions in the World Rankings. Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty climbed up one spot to enter the top-10 again while Kidambi Srikanth fell two spots to move to 14th.
Saina, a former World No.1, has seen a steady decline in her career in the last couple of years and has been struggling to regain her form. In July 2017, she had fallen to 16th in the World Rankings but then she managed to eke out a string of consistent performances. This saw her climb back into the top-10 in the world.
However, in 2019, she won only one tournament which was followed by a troubling concoction of first-round exits and critical injuries that grappled her career. Last week, Saina failed to defend her Indonesia Masters title as she was shown the door in the opening round of the tournament by Japanese Sayaka Takahashi. The first round exit saw her drop to a new low in the World Rankings.
It must be noted that, as far as it is documented on the BWF website (till October 2009), this is first time that Saina has dropped out of the world top-16. This speaks volumes of how her performances have fallen lately. In fact, merely qualifying for the Olympics could be a tough ask considering her recent decline in form.
The 2012 London Olympic bronze medallist, though, surely has not lost all hopes. She has given the fifth season of the Premier Badminton League (PBL) a miss and will take part in the Thailand Masters Super 300 tournament in a bid to keep her Tokyo dreams alive. Hopefully, she will be able to climb up the rankings and make the cut.