Badminton

Thailand Open: PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal gear up as badminton resumes

Posted on 31 Dec 2020 02:00:34 GMT - badminton

Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu has been handed relatively an easy draw, but tough outings await Saina Nehwal as the Indian duo returns to international competition in Thailand, nearly 10 months after COVID-19 pandemic halted all tournaments globally.

Sindhu and Saina didn't participate in Denmark Open Super 750 and SaarLorLux Super 100—the only two events which could be conducted since BWF was forced to suspend the calender after the completion of the All England Championships in March.

Cream of talent

Now all eyes are on the two Super 1000 events—Yonex Thailand Open (January 12-17) and Toyota Thailand Open (January 19-24) as the world's best returns to action following a prolonged break.

Saina Nehwal
Saina Nehwal

World champion Sindhu, seeded sixth, will open against Denmark's Mia Blichfeldt, while Saina, who has recently recovered from COVID-19, will face formidable Japanese Nozomi Okuhara, seeded third, in the first round.

In the next tournament, Sindhu, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and has been training in London for the last two months, will meet Thailand's Busanan Ongbamrungphan in the opening round, while London Olympics bronze medallist Saina will square off against another Thai star player Ratchanok Inthanon, seeded fourth.

Sindhu, 25, has been seeded sixth in both the tournaments, according to the draws announced by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) on Tuesday.

In the men's singles, a total of seven Indians, including former World No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth, Olympic-bound B Sai Praneeth and young Lakshya Sen, will be participating in both the events.

Srikanth, who had reached the quarter-finals at Denmark Open in October, will cross swords with fellow Indian Sourabh Verma in the opening round in the first Thailand event while Lakshya, who lost in second round at Odense, will be up against Denmark's Rasmus Gemke.

Praneeth will fight it out against local player Kantaphon Wangcharoen. HS Prannoy will take on eight seed Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia, former Commonwealth Games champion Parupalli Kashyap meets Japan's Kenta Nishimoto while Sameer Verma faces Indonesia's Shesar Hiren Rhustavito. Srikanth will square up against local player Sitthikom Thammasin in the second event and Praneeth will take on Malaysia's Daren Liew in relatively easier draws but Lakshya faces an uphill task against second seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.

Kashyap, Prannoy in focus

Among others, Kashyap will face Gemke, Prannoy will face off sixth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia, while Verma brothers—Sameer and Sourabh will meet eight seed Zii Jia and fifth seed Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia respectively.

Indian men's pairing of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty, who have also qualified for the Tokyo Games, will face Korean combination of Kim Gi Jung and Lee Yong Dae in the first event, while it will be an all-Indian duel in the second tournament with the World No. 10 pair taking on Manu Attri and B Sumeeth Reddy.

Thailand has been dealing with pro-democracy protest movements and has recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases as well. However, BWF said: "The Yonex Thailand Open and Toyota Thailand Open, plus the season ending HSBC BWF World Tour Finals will go ahead as planned."

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PV Sindhu unfazed by increasing travel bans due to COVID-19

Posted on 23 Dec 2020 02:28:03 GMT - badminton

Unfazed by the worsening COVID-19 situation in England where she is training right now, world champion shuttler PV Sindhu on Tuesday told PTI that she remains hopeful of travelling to Thailand for tournaments in January despite countries increasingly banning flights from the UK. Sindhu, who has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, has been training in London for the last two months and is scheduled to play her first tournament since the break in Thailand. She will have to be in Bangkok by January 3 to compete in the two Super 1000 events (January 12 to 17 and January 19 to 24).

"I plan to travel in the first week of January There is no travel ban from UK in Thailand, so I can travel from Doha. The idea is to use the Gulf route to reach Thailand," said Sindhu, who is managed by sports management firm Baseline Ventures. Several countries around the world, including India, have imposed bans on flights on the UK because of a new and seemingly more contagious strain of the coronavirus in England. The 25-year-old had left for London in October to focus on her nutrition and fitness at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) and also has been training alongside British shuttlers Toby Penty and Rajiv Ouseph at the National Training Centre. "Thankfully, my training is going on pretty well.

The national center is not closed. It is run as a bubble center, so I have been able to practice ahead of the events in Thailand," Sindhu said. The Thailand leg will mark the return of international badminton but the country has been dealing with pro-democracy protest movements and has recently seen a spike in COVID-19 cases as well. Last Saturday, health officials in Thailand reported 548 new cases, most victims being migrant workers of the seafood industry in Samut Sakhon province, 34 kilometers southwest of Bangkok. "Cases in Thailand are also increasing, so there is uncertainty about Thailand event too, we really hope that things are under control and the event goes ahead. We need badminton to restart just like other sports," said Yashwanth Biyyala, Director ¿ Athlete at Baseline Ventures.

The Sports Ministry had recently approved Sindhu's request to have her personal physio and fitness trainer accompany her to three tournaments in January. Sindhu last competed in March when she participated in the All England Championship, following which all tournaments were either cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In October, Sindhu had pulled out of the Denmark Open, one of the only two events to be held since March. The other event was SaarLorlux Open Super 100 event in Germany.

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PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal to compete for the first time since COVID-19 break

Posted on 22 Dec 2020 01:50:23 GMT - badminton

India's top shuttlers PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal will be seen in action for the first time since the coronavirus-forced break when they compete in three upcoming tournaments in Bangkok, including the prestigious BWF World Tour Finals. With Olympic qualifications in mind, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) on Monday announced a strong eight-member squad to participate in the three upcoming tournaments, scheduled in January.

The team, consisting of Olympic-bound shuttlers Sindhu, Saina, B Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth, Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, Chirag Shetty, Ashwini Ponappa and N Sikki Reddy, will begin their campaign with Yonex Thailand Open from January 12-17. That will be followed by Toyota Thailand Open (January 19-24) and the prestigious HSBC BWF World Tour Finals which is rescheduled for January 27-31.

After the coronavirus outbreak in March disrupted the sporting world resulting in cancellation or postponement of a number of tournaments, this will be the first time that top Indian players, apart from Srikanth, will feature in any international tournament. The former World No. 1, Srikanth had made a comeback when he played the Denmark Open in October.

"We are very happy to see badminton finally getting back on the court. It gives us hope that tournaments can eventually make a steady comeback in near future. Most of our players haven't played tournaments in the last 7-8 months," BAI general secretary Ajay Singhania said.

"However, they have been training to the best of their abilities at the camp. The purpose of sending a full-strength team in these tournaments so that players can get the much-needed tournament practice ahead of the Olympic qualifiers," he added. The team will also be accompanied by singles foreign coaches Agus Dwi Santoso and Park Tae Sang and doubles coach Dwi Kristiawan alongside support staff consisting of Kiran Challagundla, Johnson, Evangelina Baddam and M Srikanth.

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PV Sindhu to return at Thailand Open

Posted on 19 Dec 2020 05:00:08 GMT - badminton

Ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu will return to competitive action in January 2021 where she will be taking part in at least three tournaments.

Sindhu, who is a part of the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) core group, will be seen in action at the Yonex Thailand Open (January 12-17), Toyota Thailand Open (January 19-24) and the World Tour Finals in Bangkok, subject to qualification (January 27-31).

The sports ministry has sanctioned Sindhu's request to have her physio and fitness trainer accompany her at the tournaments.

"The services of her physio and trainer for these three tournaments has been sanctioned at an approx cost of Rs. 8.25 lakhs," a Sports Authority of India (SAI) statement read.

She last played competitively at the All England Championships in March this year before the Covid-19 pandemic brought sport to a halt.

In September, the reigning world champion had pulled out of Denmark Open. After that, she had agreed to play in the Uber Cup, which was eventually postponed.

In November, the Rio Olympic silver medallist had said she is totally fit, not just health-wise but also on the badminton court and her preparations for the Tokyo Olympics are in full swing.

The Olympics, which were slated to be held in July-August this year, had to be postponed to summer of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"I have been preparing myself mentally and physically to compete in 2021. We are not too far away and this is a worldwide scenario, hence every athlete is going through the same and we will all have to adapt, train, and give our best in Tokyo," Sindhu had told IANS.

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Saina Nehwal, P Kashyap get mushy on second wedding anniversary

Posted on 18 Dec 2020 03:40:32 GMT - badminton

India badminton star Saina Nehwal has shared a sweet message to wish hubby P Kashyap on their second wedding anniversary.

On Thursday, she Instagrammed this picture (right) for her 1.5 million followers and captioned it: "Thank you for loving me for who I am...#happysecondanniversary #marriageanniversary #timeflies."

Meanwhile, Kashyap wrote: "Love always wins. No matter what is going on in our lives, I know that together we can accomplish anything. Happy anniversary to the woman who always has my back. #happysecondanniversary."

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Shuttler PV Sindhu is fit and raring to go

Posted on 7 Nov 2020 07:24:43 GMT - badminton

Days after giving a mini "heart-attack" to her fans, ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu says she is totally fit, not just health-wise but also on the badminton court, and is looking forward to competing in the upcoming tournaments. In an exclusive interview with IANS, Sindhu opened up on how she coped up with the Covid-19 induced lockdown, her reaction to the Tokyo Olympics postponement, her preparation for the upcoming Asia Cup, and also her relationship with national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand. "It was quite difficult to suddenly stop a very active routine. But at the same time we all realised how important it was to pause everything and take care of ourselves," Sindhu said about the nationwide-lockdown which was first put in place towards March end following the outbreak of novel coronavirus.

"I tried to keep myself active by working out at home and that really helped me. I also spent a lot of time with my family and picked up some hobbies like painting," she added. However, even during the lockdown, Sindhu stayed active in order to make sure she stayed as fit as possible. "I was not able to play on court, hence it was a bit hard when I started playing. But I think I am now fit on court as well and ready to go. The Tokyo Olympics, which were slated to be held in July-August this year, had to be postponed to summer of 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sindhu, however, revealed that she was prepared for the postponement considering the situation and was thus not surprised by the development.

"With everything that has been happening around the world, it was quite evident that Tokyo Games were going to be postponed and I had already started to prepare mentally." The ace shuttler further said that the break has not broken her rhythm in her quest for the elusive Olympic gold. "I have been preparing myself mentally and physically to compete in 2021. We are not too far away and this is a worldwide scenario, hence every athlete is going through the same and we will all have to adapt, train, and give our best in Tokyo," Sindhu said.

In September, the reigning world champion had pulled out of Denmark Open. After that, she had agreed to play in the Uber Cup, which was eventually postponed. Now, the next tournament in which she would be competing is the Asian leg of the BWF World Tour. "I am really looking forward to the tournaments in Asia. I will be back on the court after a long time. The training has been going well and this break has also helped me learn and improve as an athlete. I am taking a lot of positive out of this break and using this time to work on things I have not had the time for due to the hectic schedule," Sindhu said as she remains upbeat to once again to rule the court.

Recently, there was a report which claimed that Sindhu had a rift with Gopichand and that she was not happy with the training facilities for the national camp. However, Sindhu rejects that allegation. "Gopi sir is my coach and he has helped me immensely. I do not have issues with him and I have kept him informed about my decision to train in England due to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute (GSSI) analysis," said Sindhu. In order to work on her nutrition and recovery, Sindhu is currently in England and working with Rebecca Randell at the GSSI.

"I have been working with GSSI for the past four years and this is a long process. We have been working on many aspects such as nutrition and recovery and this has been helping me immensely," she said. Sindhu, recently, gave a 'mini heart attack' to sports fraternity with a social media post where she said: "I RETIRE". In a lengthy post on her official Twitter handle, Sindhu had said that the Denmark Open was the final straw and she has decided to bid adieu to the game. Elaborating on her post, the 26-year-old said: "Well, to be honest, the whole line read as I retire from the negativity, uncertainty caused by Covid-19. It was completely focused on bringing everyone's attention to what we are dealing with currently and how we can try our best to move forward."

"All the negativity, the influx of information and news had me troubled which is why I wanted to share my thoughts with everyone. The open letter for me was a way to articulate my concerns and fears," she added. The Rio Olympic silver medallist also spoke about her rivalry with Nozomi Okuhara and Carolina Marin, saying that all three of them bring out the best out of each other whenever they play on the court.

"Well I have enjoyed great rivalry on court but we are friends off court. That is the beauty of sport and sportsmanship. I truly enjoy a competitive match and usually that happens with both of them. We push our limits and bring out our best," said Sindhu. The ace shuttler has also associated with Hindustan Unilever which has come up hygiene product such as Nature Protect to provide an added layer to people as restrictions ease out amid the pandemic. "It has been months at home and we still question ourselves every time we step out, which is why I felt that we needed a better and more holistic hygiene solution that catered to our current needs," Sindhu said.

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BWF must have common rules for COVID-19 testing: Lakshya Sen's father

Posted on 4 Nov 2020 01:40:06 GMT - badminton

India shuttler Lakshya Sen's father and coach DK Sen has urged the country's badminton players, coaches and support staff to learn to adapt to the new normal after his recent ordeal in Germany, having tested positive for COVID-19 at the SaarLorLux Open in Saarbrucken on October 27.

Defending champion Lakshya and two other India players, World No. 13 Ajay Jayaram and 2018 winner Subhankar Dey were forced to pull out of the tournament and kept in isolation in Germany as they had been in contact with Sen. "We reached our Bangalore home this morning, around 5am. We are fine and healthy, but testing positive for COVID-19 despite taking all the precautionary measures was a shocker.

'False positive test'

"I feel my test was false positive as I didn't even have a single symptom. Besides, it's strange that though I was sharing food and beverages with my son, he didn't show any trace of the virus. I would like to tell everyone not to get scared [of the virus] and learn to live in the new normal so that tournaments can be conducted at all levels. This is the need of the hour," Sen told mid-day on his arrival in the country on Tuesday. He also felt that the Badminton World Federation (BWF) should formulate similar rules for all tournaments being held during COVID-19.

Different regulations

"At Odense [Denmark Open], the COVID-19 tests were conducted by the organisers when we reached our hotel rooms. But that was not the case in Germany. If BWF can formulate uniformity in the way they function as far as testing is concerned, such incidents can be minimised," said Sen, who tested negative on November 1, following which they were permitted to travel back to the country.

Experience in Germany was scary: Lakshya

India badminton player Lakshya Sen, who had to withdraw from SaarLorLux Open (October 27-November 10) after his father-cum-coach DK Sen tested positive, wants to forget the Germany experience and travel to his hometown of Almora, Uttarakhand for Diwali before he begins training for the Asia leg (January 12-17 Yonex Thailand Open and Toyota Thailand Open to be held from January 19 to 24 in Bangkok) of competitions next year.

"After dad tested positive, we were confined to our hotel rooms. It was a very scary experience. The first thought that came to my mind was about the health of all those who came in contact with him. Right now, I am just waiting for my mandatory home quarantine to get over. I will then go to Almora [my hometown] for Diwali," Lakshya told mid-day on Tuesday.

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Shuttler PV Sindhu retires... from negativity and fear. See post

Posted on 3 Nov 2020 01:39:55 GMT - badminton

Ace Indian shuttler PV Sindhu on Monday stunned the sports fraternity with a social media post, saying, "I RETIRE". In a lengthy post on Twitter, she said that the Denmark Open "was the final straw".

The Rio Olympics silver medallist wrote: "I have been thinking about coming clean with my feelings for a while now. I admit I have been struggling to deal with it. It just feels so wrong, you know. That's why I'm writing today to tell you that I'm done. It's understandable if you're shocked or confused but by the time you finish reading this, you would have learnt about my point of view and will support it too." The next part of the message made things clear.

"This pandemic has been an eye-opener. I could fight the toughest of opponents...but how do I defeat this invisible virus that has the entire world in a fix? Today, I choose to retire from this sense of unrest. I retire from this negativity, fear, uncertainty. I retire from substandard hygiene and our lackadaisical attitude towards the virus," added Sindhu.

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Saina Nehwal stuns in slit dress during Maldives vacation! See photos

Posted on 2 Nov 2020 04:52:21 GMT - badminton

India badminton star Saina Nehwal is currently on a long holiday in Maldives along with her husband and fellow badminton player Parupalli Kashyap.

Saina Nehwal recently took to social media to share a couple of photos of her looking glamorous in a slit dress for her 1.4 million followers. Saina looked stunning in the photos as she posed on a beach. In the caption, Saina Nehwal posted two dancing women emojis (mostly indicating a person is ready to party/celebrate).

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

💃💃

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 31, 2020 at 8:13am PDT

Earlier, Saina Nehwal had posted numerous photos of her and P Kashyap enjoying their privacy at a lavish hotel in Maldives.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

❤️

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 29, 2020 at 12:58am PDT

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

🤣🤣 pic credit - @amulya.gullapalli

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 28, 2020 at 5:40am PDT

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

😇😇... #lovelyplace❤️

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 28, 2020 at 10:26pm PDT

Saina and Kashyap seem to be making most of their time away from professional commitments at the moment.

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Saina Nehwal enjoys Maldives getaway with hubby P Kashyap. See photo

Posted on 30 Oct 2020 04:35:45 GMT - badminton

India badminton star Saina Nehwal is busy enjoying some time off the sport and has decided to take a trip out of the country.

Saina Nehwal, who is one of the most active shuttlers on social media, recently shared some photos from her vacation diaries in Maldives. Saina and her husband Parupalli Kashyap are seen stealing away romantic moments during the sunset in Maldives. Here are some of the photos shared by Saina Nehwal on Instagram.

The first photo Saina captioned saying - Happy holidays... #maldivesislands #tajexoticaresort ... pic credit- @saipraneeth92. Yes, some photos were clicked by Saina and Kashyap's shuttler buddy Sai Praneeth.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

Happy holidays 😂😂😜... #maldivesislands 🌟🌟 #tajexoticaresort ... pic credit- @saipraneeth92

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 28, 2020 at 5:14am PDT

Saina Nehwal then shared photos of her posing on the beach. Saina was seen rocking some short dresses and looked beautiful in them. She shared photos from the beach and wrote, "Holiday mood totally #tajexoticamaldivesresortandspa"

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

Holiday mood totally 🥰🥰 #tajexoticamaldivesresortandspa ❤ï¸Ââ¤ï¸Â

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 28, 2020 at 5:42am PDT

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

🤣🤣 pic credit - @amulya.gullapalli

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 28, 2020 at 5:40am PDT

Saina Nehwal also shared the outfit that she chose to wear for dinner at the hotel and resort.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

Dinner ðŸ¥Â˜... #tajexoticamaldivesresortandspa ... pic credit - @amulya.gullapalli

A post shared by SAINA NEHWAL (@nehwalsaina) onOct 28, 2020 at 9:48am PDT

Saina Nehwal and Parupalli Kashyap were reportedly dating for awhile before they decided to tie the knot. Saina and Kashyap got married in a private ceremont involving family and close friends on December 14, 2018.

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Shuttlers Ajay, Shubhankar in isolation amidst COVID-19 scare

Posted on 30 Oct 2020 04:13:28 GMT - badminton

Indian shuttlers Ajay Jayaram and Shubhankar Dey were on Thursday forced out of the SaarLorLux Open after being put in isolation owing to contact with COVID positive father-cum-coach of defending champion Lakshya Sen, who has already withdrawn. The 19-year-old Lakshya withdrew on Wednesday after his father D K Sen returned a positive test for the dreaded virus. D K Sen is asymptomatic at this point. "BWF can confirm three players have been withdrawn from the SaarLorLux Open 2020 as a precautionary measure for all participants after they were in contact with a member of their team entourage who tested positive for COVID-19," the Badminton World Federation said in a statement.

"The three players: Lakshya Sen, Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey will not compete further in the tournament, which began on Tuesday," it added. Later, Jayaram, in a Twitter post tagging sports minister Kiren Rijiju, the national badminton federation and BWF, said that he and Dey would like to return to India as the organisers have not given them any information or assistance apart from asking them to isolate.

"Owing to one of the players failing to follow the COVID protocol and the organisers failing to enforce the protocols set in place, I and Shubhankar have found ourselves in an unfortunate situation...," he wrote without specifying the lapse on part the player concerned and the organisers. "We have currently been asked to isolate with absolutely no other information from the organisers including our meals. "We have our COVID negative certificates, and have NO symptoms. We are unable to contact the German local authorities. We would like to know if it is possible for us to get tested here again and come back to india," he added.

Dey also demanded compensation for the ordeal. "Requesting authorities to compensate us while also allowing us to return to India," he tweeted. The Sports Authority of India (SAI) assured that it will pay for the expenses to be incurred by the two players "for the length of their quarantine in Germany from October 30 to November 10, on humanitarian grounds."

"SAI will be paying a total of Rs. 1.46 lakh for their hotel stay and food expenses and will release 90 percent of the amount immediately," SAI said in a statement. Jayaram said repeated attempts to get a word from the organisers have proved futile so far. Lakshya, Jayaram and Dey had tested negative ahead of the tournament.

Lakshya, who claimed five titles in the senior circuit last year including two BWF World Tour Super 100 top honours SaarLorLux Open and Dutch Open, received a bye in the opening round along with Dey.

Jayaram had won his opening-round clash on Monday. With Thursday's development, India's challenge came to an end at the tournament. The world calendar has been severely curtailed this year because of the pandemic and after a seven-month shutdown, it restarted with the Denmark Open earlier this month.

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Lakshya Sen pulls out of SaarLorlux after father tests positive for COVID-19

Posted on 29 Oct 2020 03:04:00 GMT - badminton

Defending champion Lakshya Sen on Wednesday pulled out of the SaarLorLux Open Super 100 tournament after his father-cum-coach D K Sen tested positive for COVID-19 here. The 19-year-old Indian was aiming to recover from an early exit in Denmark Open recently before his campaign in Germany came to an abrupt end. "We had gone for the mandatory COVID-19 test on Monday. The result came last evening. I tested positive. It is unfortunate that Lakhsya had to withdraw. He had worked hard for the tournament," D K Sen told PTI.

He said he is asymptomatic and "is doing absolutely fine". "I don't feel any change, I am fine. We are trying to get a second test done." Lakshya said he is disappointed at the turn of events. "I am the defending champion of this event and I am very disappointed and sad with this development," he wrote in his letter to the organising secretary. "Under the circumstances, I do not want to jeopardise the safety of other players and hamper the functioning of the tournament."

Lakshya, who claimed five titles in the senior circuit last year including two BWF World Tour Super 100 top honours SaarLorLux Open and Dutch Open, received a bye in the opening round.

The wrote in the letter: "This is to inform you that after coming to play the Saarlorlux event in Saarbrucken with my coach D.K.Sen and Physio Abishek, we were asked to go to Frankfurt to get a COVID test done by the organisers. "We participated in the Denmark Open last week and travelled from Copenhagen. As advised we then went to Frankfurt and got our COVID tests done. "In the tests, myself and my Physio Abhishek are found negative, unfortunately my coach is tested positive,even though he has no symptoms. "I feel that being in close contact with my coach who is tested positive, I should also isolate myself. "I request you to kindly grant me permission to withdraw my entry."

Lakshya was scheduled to play USA's Howard Shu in the second round later in the day.

Laksyha's coach in Prakash Padukone Academy, Vimal Kumar said it was an unfortunate development. "It is sad and unfortunate that some like this has happened. I feel it could be a false negative. Hope he returns negative in the next test," Vimal said

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