London 2012 medallist Saina Nehwal has decided to pull out of the Indian badminton squad selection trials for the Asian Games 2023 due to fitness issues, according to the Olympics.com.The trials, organized by the Badminton Association of India (BAI), are scheduled to take place from May 4 to 7 at the Jwala Gutta Academy of Excellence in Telangana.
The trials will help the BAI pick the final Indian badminton team for the upcoming Asian Games, scheduled from September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, China. There are a total of 20 spots – 10 men and 10 women – in the Indian badminton team for the Games. However, Indian badminton players HS Prannoy and PV Sindhu, a two-time Olympic medallist, have been granted direct entries, courtesy of being in the top 20 in the BWF rankings.
The men`s doubles pair of Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and the women`s doubles pair Treesa Jolly and Gayatri Gopichand, too, have sealed direct berths in the Indian team. Hence, the selection trials will be conducted for the remaining 14 spots.
The list of women`s singles players who were set to compete in the trials initially included Saina Nehwal, Aakarshi Kashyap, Malvika Bansod, Ashmita Chaliha, Aditi Bhat, Unnati Hooda, Alisha Naik, Shriyanshi Valishetty and national champion Anupama Upadhyaya. Besides Saina Nehwal, the men`s pair of Kushal Raj and Prakash Raj have also withdrawn from the trials.
Saina Nehwal has not been in great form of late. In what has been a stop-start season for her this year, the former world No. 1 has failed to progress beyond the second round in any of the four BWF World Tour 2023 tournaments she has competed in.