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Saina withdraws

New Delhi: Defending women’s singles champion Saina Nehwal on Friday pulled out of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games after failing to recover from the blisters she suffered in her leg during the Australian Open.

Apart from being a favourite to retain her singles title, top seed Saina was also expected to be India’s backbone in the team championship. Her decision will thus weaken India’s prospects in the badminton events at Glasgow.

While the world No. 7 Saina said it was impossible for her to defend the title, senior Badminton Association of India (BAI) officials said all efforts to change her mind went in vain.

“We tried hard to convince her how important it would be to play for India in the CWG but she was adamant. She obviously was not in a mood to risk any adverse result,” an official said.

With Saina pulling out, India’s hopes in the women’s singles now rely on PV Sindhu, who is seeded second in the competition. The draw for the badminton events will be held on Monday.

Saina, on her part, said she felt sad about pulling out. “From the beginning of the year, I was looking forward to CWG and the Asian Games. Being the winner at the Delhi Games, I was eager to retain the gold medal. I did not expect things to go wrong.

“In the Australian Open, I first suffered groin injury and then played the final with blisters on my leg. I still managed to win against the Spanish girl (Carolina Marin). Once I returned to India, it took one week for me to recover. I hardly had any practice… I don’t want to represent the country unprepared,” she said.

Australian Open was the second title of the year for Saina after the Indian Grand Prix at Lucknow.