Injured Sindhu gets protected ranking, could be out till next year

PV Sindhu in action at the 2023 Denmark Open. Shi Tang/Getty Images

PV Sindhu could be out of badminton action till early next year after getting a protected ranking due to the knee injury she sustained during the French Open late last month.

In the latest BWF ranking released on Tuesday, the Indian world No 11 had the symbol for protected ranking next to her name.

What does this mean?

According to BWF rules, player can submit a request for getting protected ranking in situations where it's impossible for them to compete for long periods.

The regulations also state that the player has this protection when they are unable to participate in any tournament for a minimum of three months, up to a maximum of 12 months, or until such time as the player notifies BWF that the player wishes to enter a tournament again.

This means that Sindhu could be out till February next year. But she can also make a comeback earlier than that if she feels she is recovered and ready. The protected ranking means she can compete at her current rank. This way, she won't lose points during her absence from the tour.

Sindhu sustained a knee injury on 26 October when she was leading by a game in her second-round women's singles match against Thailand's Supanida Katethong. While returning a shot, Sindhu stretched herself far too much and was in some pain.

She took a medical timeout and even received a yellow card for delay before deciding to concede. It was a rare mid-match withdrawal from Sindhu.

"After returning from France and undergoing a knee scan, we've found a niggle in my left knee. In hindsight, conceding the match was the best call," Sindhu posted on social media. "Doctors have advised a few weeks rest before I begin training again. The break is also an opportunity to focus on the upcoming Olympics."

This latest injury came after a good run on the European swing where Sindhu reached semifinals for two straight weeks at the Arctic Open Super 500 and the Denmark Open Super 750 after missing out an Asian Gamed medal.

It feels like a particularly cruel blow as Sindhu had just about managed to regain some of her old groove after struggling since return from a five-month injury layoff in January this year. She had just returned into the top 10 of BWF world rankings after nearly six months.

The stress fracture in the leg that she sustained during the Commonwealth Games last year ended her season early and the after effects could be seen for months to come, in her movement in particular.

While this latest injury doesn't appear to be as serious and requires rest and rehab, it remains to be seen how it will affect the former world champion.

For now, the protected ranking could be a precautionary measure during the ongoing crucial Olympic qualification period, which started in May and runs until 28 April 2024. Sindhu is currently 10th in the women's singles list, with her recent return to form bumping her up the list.

Sindhu has made no official comment on the timeframe for her recovery but shared a meme about having another long wait before her return to the court.