Saina Nehwal, who became the first Indian woman to claim the world number one spot earlier in the year, looks certain to end her 2015 with an early departure from the Super Series finals in Dubai.
Nehwal’s 21-14, 21-6 loss to Nozomi Okuhara, the lively world number nine from Japan, was ominous enough, but her explanation for the one-sidedness of the loss made it seem as if her season is all but over.
Nehwal admitted she has not been able to train since injuring an Achilles tendon three weeks ago, and her movement was just not light enough or enduring enough against Okuhara who, as she said, “gets everything back”.
Worse still Nehwal is in a group containing the favourite, Carolina Marin of Spain, and the titleholder Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan.
Both of them look in decent shape, and both of them she would probably have to beat to be able to qualify for the semi-finals.