Saina Nehwal: Superseries money needs a hike

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With the cash awash Premier Badminton League (PBL) chugging towards its business end, Saina Nehwal has called upon the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to hike prize money of Superseries events if the sport had to attract more players.

"BWF should think about it and hike the prize money. Right now, leagues have more money than Superseries. It's not about $50000, it needs to increase a lot more. So if PBL, for instance, happens twice a year, players will prefer to turn up only for this and not Superseries events."

Superseries Premier events offer a minimum total prize money of $500,000 with a yearly hike of $50000 while $250000 Superseries events have a minimum annual hike of $25000.

PBL is incidentally the highest-paid badminton league in the world with a $878,973 prize money. "Players should be happy financially, so that they are not participating in the league for the money, but the sport itself. If you see tennis, it has evolved so much over the past decade, which is why more people are taking up the sport," she says. The US Open with a total prize purse $46.3 million is the richest Grand Slam in tennis. Wimbledon comes a close second at $41.05 million.

The world body is mulling a switch from the existing 21 point, best of three games system to an 11 point, best of five format -- one that Saina feels will turn the game one-dimensional. "Rallies will go away. It will be no fun to watch. It will just be smash-stab and become like doubles. I think players should be consulted before a change of this kind is implemented," she said.

Observing that the new format should be experimented in a couple of tournaments first, Saina added, "I think both formats can co-exist. Maybe four events, like the Grand Slams (Superseries Premier events), should be 21 points and the rest can be 11 points if the federation wants it that way. But changing everything to 11 points will just take the fun away."