Olympic badminton medal winner Saina Nehwal has sparked controversy after retiring from a match she was on the verge of winning because of a knee injury.
The bronze medallist had reached match point against Russian Ksenia Polikarpova in the first round match at the India Grand Prix in Lucknow yesterday when she decided to retire.
"Even when I was playing at the Super Series Finals (in China last week), I was playing with a taped knee," the world number three told reporters afterwards..
"I have been facing this problem since then. This could have aggravated if I had continued. So I decided to back out," she added.
The Badminton Association of India dismissed claims that Nehwal, under pressure to play in the city which is home to her sponsors Sahara and also of BAI president Akhilesh Das, had no intention of playing beyond the first round.
"We are looking into her pullout but her injury is genuine," TPS Puri, the BAI's vice president, said.
"She sustained it at the Denmark Open (in October) and has been struggling since then. She is our top shuttler and we have to look after her," he said.
"I don't think it's correct to say that she had got her return tickets booked for Wednesday.
"She came here straight from China. She was taking a chance with her injury and probably realised it was not worth aggravating it," Puri added.
The $120,000 (Dh440,000) tournament suffered another setback when men's top seed and 2004 Olympic champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia crashed out with a shocking 21-17 21-12 first round defeat to unheralded Indian Pratul Joshi.
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