A starving Carolina Marin could only make life harder for Indian commuters

In April, she just lost one of the five games she played in the championship, this one also against the Danish Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt, to sound the alarm bell among the other best players in the world, and rightly title. The disappointment of missing out on the chance to defend his Olympic title would still be there, but Marin has already started with a roar, which shows in his performance as well as his words. “You all know me and I always want to win,” she said on her return.

Just before the injury setback, the Spaniard had won the Thailand Open Super 100 defeating current world No. 1 Tai Tzu-Ying in consecutive matches, then followed that up with victory at the Toyota Thailand Open, a tournament of the same magnitude and against the same opponent. Later, in the World Tour Finals, she lost to Tai, but then bagged the Swiss Open and the European Championship, before finally being pinned down. This just goes to show her total dominance in women’s singles ahead of the Olympics, which ultimately didn’t happen for her.

In a year she was absent from the game, nothing really changed, as far as the best players on the circuit are concerned, except for the classification; in fact, the top 10 consists of pretty much the same players with few new names coming since then. With Marin back in the fold now, it will be her battle with old foes, and against whom she has a better one-on-one record. Against Japan’s Yamaguchi, in the 13 matches played, Marin won seven times, while against Okuhara she won nine draws and lost eight.

She also boasts of a tremendous record against Tai, where she lost 10 and won eight, and is the only player in the world to consistently beat the Taipei girl. As for reigning Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei, Marin has won three times and lost twice. One of the hottest prospects these days, South Korean An Se-young has lost to the Spaniard the most times; Marin leads 4-2 in head-to-head battles.

Although her arrival would only mean tougher competition in women’s singles, it may not be the best-case scenario for Indian players going forward. For a long time, PV Sindhu was the only player in the country who could really challenge and beat her too. But Marin has a better record there too, winning nine games and losing just six, most of them in big-game clashes. Since the iconic Rio 2016 Olympics final, which the Indian lost, the pair have faced each other five times, with Marin winning four of those matches, including the 2018 World Championship final.

While Sindhu is excellent at net and in her defence, where Marin perhaps tops her is her speed and deception. If after two knee surgeries she manages to maintain the same form or improve in some way, the Indian queen of badminton could be in trouble in the upcoming clashes, given that Marin is her real sworn enemy. That said, this could also be the right opportunity for Sindhu to improve his record against the current world No. 5, given that the latter will be a little more hesitant with his footwork.

Unfortunately, there won’t be much of a challenge for Marin, as far as other singles players in India are concerned. In fact, it would be fair to say that all players except Sindhu will struggle to win a match against her. Saina Nehwal, a former world number one, is past her prime now and not the fittest anymore. Despite a decent record against Marin, she would still struggle to compete with her Spanish rival. When they last met at Malaysia Masters 2020, Marin showed no mercy for the struggling Nehwal and won the quarters battle 21-8, 21-7.

There was a time, a few years ago, when Nehwal would engage Marin in long rallies near the net and score freely. The 2015 Syed Modi International Final between the two is a classic example, where Nehwal played to his strengths, tired his opponent and won 19-21, 25-23, 21-16. But that is all in the past and unfortunately it would be unfair to expect something similar from Nehwal again.

New-age players like Ashmita Chaliha and Malvika Bansod, both left-handers like Marin, still have a long way to go before they can actually upset the Spaniard. While these two Indian girls possess the talent to perhaps overtake Marin in the future, at the moment they just don’t seem to have enough in the tank, both in defense and attack. Fitness will also be key for them to beat Marin, who can’t be called the best at the moment, and that’s where Marin completely outplays them, despite his injury worries lately. The latter is known to love grueling and relentless battles with players, and her celebratory growls are enough to disrupt any player’s momentum.

Now that she’s finally back on the pitch, Marin would make sure she puts in the hard yards, to get some big wins under her belt. Coming back from a serious injury, she’s as much of a threat as she would be under normal circumstances. After her ACL tear in her right knee in a match against Nehwal in 2019, she came back strong with a title victory at the China Open, against Tai, and there is no reason why things should not happen. be different for her this time too.




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