Citing a knee injury, the London Olympics bronze medallist conceded the match despite leading 21-17, 20-18. "My physio had told me that I should not put too much pressure on my knee. I was playing well but suddenly I felt some problem in the knee, so I decided to quit," the World no. 3 said.
Saina pointed out that last week too she had played with "a taped knee" at the Super Series Finals in China. "I have been facing this problem since then. This could have aggravated if I had continued. So, I decided to back out," she said.
On Dec 15, Saina gave a tough fight to Olympic champion Li Xuerui in the semi-final of the tournament that was organised at Shenzen but ended up losing the 51-minute tussle.
Although she complained of fatigue after the Super Series Finals, the Badminton Association of India (BAI) reportedly compelled Saina to participate in the Syed Modi International Grand Prix here.
However, BAI officials were taken aback by her decision to withdraw at matchpoint yesterday. "Someone had booked her tickets from Hyderabad for Wednesday afternoon. If she did not want to play due to whatever reason, why did she come to Lucknow at all? It is a disaster for the tournament that the top seed and star attraction goes out on the first day," one of the officials said.
Saina's coach Pullela Gopichand explained that his most famous ward was not in a condition to continue playing. "She has had a long season, but personally I would have loved to see her in action here. But as the players give their entries a month in advance, that time they may be enthusiastic and confident that they can compete. But a day before the actual event, their body may not allow them to play," he said.