Three-time champion Carolina Marin's much-awaited return to competitive action was further delayed as she pulled out of the World Championships after failing to regain fitness following a knee injury. The Rio Olympics gold medallist had withdrawn from the All England Championships this year after suffering the injury during the Swiss Open.
The 28-year-old had announced her plans of making a comeback at the World Championships taking place in Huelva, Spain.
"I was having a really good season start, I had won four tournaments out of five. I was feeling very confident, strong, and in a really good physical and psychological condition until just one bad movement broke my knee completely," Marin said in a video posted in her twitter handle.
"Mentally it has been really hard to keep myself up, my priorities have been always health and well-being. Therefore my team and myself, have decided not to play the Huelva World Championships." Marin, considered one of the best players in international badminton, said she might be back in February next year but wouldn't want to put a date on her return.
"We have also taken the decision of not having a formal date of comeback to competitions until we are 100% sure my knee is fully recovered."
"So we will be evaluating slowly knee progress and the sensations. I am daily having it (sic), so we believe I might be officially playing again in the month of February and March." Marin, who had missed the Tokyo Olympics, had sustained a knee injury in the Indonesia Masters final in January 2019 and had missed the World Championships that year as well, with India's P V Sindhu claiming her maiden title. The Spaniard had returned at Vietnam Open in September, 2019 and went on to win the China Open, Syed Modi tournament and a runners-up finish at the French Open that year.
After a second-best finish at Indonesia Masters, Spain Masters and Denmark Open in 2020, Marin returned to claim back-to-back titles at Thailand and a final finish at the season-ending World Tour Finals in Bangkok.
She also won the Swiss Open, beating Sindhu in the finals, besides claiming the European Championships in April.
Marin's withdrawal means the list of top players pulling out of the tournament just got longer as two-time gold medallist, Kento Momota of Japan had also withdrawn earlier, after suffering a back injury at the World Tour Finals in Bali, Indonesia.
In women's singles, 2017 World Championships gold medallist Nozomi Okuhara has also withdrawn, while the Indonesian contingent also decided to skip the event due to concerns over the new COVID-19 variant spreading in European nations.