Yeo Jia Min retires to recharge for world c’ships
Exertions take toll on S'porean, whose strained knee needed treatment while trailing against Busanan
The rigours of back-to-back competitions at the highest level took their toll on Singapore's Yeo Jia Min, who retired while trailing 21-7, 15-9 to Thai world No. 12 Busanan Ongbamrungphan in their Badminton World Federation World Tour Finals Group B match yesterday.
It was clear that Yeo, the world No. 17, was up against it from the opening game at the Bali International Convention Centre when she required treatment on her right knee.
Despite trying to fight on and taking a 3-0 lead in the second game, the 22-year-old just could not keep up with her 25-year-old opponent, and she decided to stop the match after 31 minutes. The loss follows a 21-11, 21-14 defeat by Japan's world No. 3 Akane Yamaguchi on Wednesday.
Yeo will also miss today's match against South Korea's world No. 6 An Se-young, who lost 21-14, 18-21, 21-16 to Yamaguchi yesterday.
This means she will not make the semi-finals, although she should keep the US$9,000 (S$12,300) for making the season-ender.
Yeo told The Straits Times: "It's frustrating because I know I can do better but I've not been at my best physically this week.
"I've gotten a strain in my knee and feel like I shouldn't push my body with the World Championships in mind.
"It may affect the preparations a little but I'm happy I can head home to recharge myself mentally for a few days before going to Spain."
While it is not the World Tour Finals debut Yeo would have envisioned - she is the first Singaporean to qualify for the US$1.5 million event which features the top eight singles and doubles performers of the calendar year - she was not the only player to retire.
In the men's singles, Japan's world No. 2 Kento Momota and Denmark's world No. 10 Rasmus Gemke also withdrew on Wednesday, which meant Denmark's top-ranked Viktor Axelsen and India's 21st-ranked Lakshya Sen had a free pass from Group A into tomorrow's semi-finals.
As the world of sport re-opened amid the pandemic, the top shuttlers have had to cope with a packed BWF World Tour schedule featuring six tournaments since the Oct 19-24 Denmark Open.
In this period, several players, such as Axelsen, Momota, Anders Antonsen, Lee Zii Jia, Ratchanok Intanon and Saina Nehwal have pulled out of at least one event.
National singles coach Kelvin Ho shared that Yeo's strain is a new injury picked up from the past two months' exertions.
He added: "We will let the physiotherapist assess it further and work step by step towards helping her feel better.
"There's also the mental aspect of the game Jia Min needs to work on to become stronger than the rest. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but that's part of the key makings of a champion."
Following the World Tour Finals, the players will have one week off before the Dec 12-19 World Championships in Spain.