HYDERABAD: The 2018 badminton season kicked off on Tuesday in Thailand. This time it promises to be different, courtesy the new rules laid down by the Badminton World Federation (BWF). The world body is facing flak regarding these changes.
One of the new rules — the Experimental Service Rule — states the following: “the whole of the shuttle shall be below 1.15 metres from the surface of the court at the instant of being hit by the server’s racket.”
The All England Championship (scheduled for March) is the first tournament where this rule will be tried. From the time it was announced, many top players have voiced their opinion against it.
On Tuesday, it was the turn of one of the most hailed coaches in world badminton, Fernando Rivas, to point his fingers at the issue. The Spanish national has termed it “unfair for tall players”. “I don’t like it at all. I think it is unfair. It is virtually penalising the tall players,” Rivas, who coaches Hyderabad Hunters in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), said on Tuesday, a day before the start of the Hyderabad leg of the event.
“Shuttlers who are tall will have to duck quite a lot to follow this 1.15m rule. In my opinion, this seems a bit over the top.”
Top performers like numero-uno male shuttler Viktor Axelsen and women’s World No 3 PV Sindhu have expressed their concerns regarding this rule as well. While the Dane has termed it as “ridiculous”, Sindhu had said that it could have been introduced at a better time, considering that All England is a very prestigious tournament.
The other BWF directive that has come under the scanner is the mandatory participation of 12 tournaments every year for the top-15 singles players. This too has drawn a lot of ire from many world-class shuttlers.
“Next year’s schedule is too crammed. It is not right for the top players. I can just participate but can’t win every time,” London Olympics bronze-medallist Saina Nehwal had stated recently.
Rivas too did not sound quite convinced with this alteration. “I do not like to make anything compul sory. If I were the BWF, I would strive to make it more attractive for players. That will make them eager to participate.” BWF has also done away with the Superseries and Grand Prix tournaments, and replaced them with a five-level ‘World tour’ schedule.