Badminton took a giant step towards ending player heartburn with the introduction of a decision review system at the BWF World Superseries Finals that began Wednesday.
The review system – implemented for line calls only – gives a player two chances to challenge line calls. When a call is challenged, the chair umpire will signal the referee, who will check the legitimacy of the call on his TV monitor.
Interestingly, it was Malaysia’s favourite son, Lee Chong Wei, who issued the first challenge on a shot that was called ‘out’. Replays showed the shuttle had caught the line, and the world No.1 was awarded the point. "It’s good and fair for everybody and all the players are very happy with it," said Chong Wei. "I would like to thank the BWF for introducing it…Having reviews is great for badminton."
Saina Nehwal crashed out of the Superseries Finals after two straight losses in her group. The top eight players are divided into two groups, with the two toppers from each group making the semi-finals. Saina has never won this tournament, but had finished runner-up in 2011. The defeat marks the end of a disappointing year for her – a year in which she has not even made any final.
Saina has consistently blamed injuries or illness for her below-par performances, and as she came off after a heavy defeat against Olympic champion Li Xuerui, the refrain continued. "I struggled with a cold after I came here," she said.
"After the IBL I just haven’t been fully fit. I should have skipped some tournaments; it was a mistake to play in China and Hong Kong. I have been practising well and training hard. It’s not that I have been distracted by offcourt commitments." To observers, it is clear that the Indian’s speed is the problem – she appears too slow. Whether that’s due to her injury niggles or lack of training intensity, only she can tell.
Indian Audiences will be familiar with Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying, who turned out for Banga Beats in the Indian Badminton League. The teenager is a delightful player to watch, bringing a rare deceptive game and a bright smile to match. Off-court, she is just as cheerful. "I had a wonderful time at the IBL," she says, through an interpreter. Tai is part of a new generation that heralds an exciting era for women’s singles badminton.