A knee injury may have curtailed Carolina Marin’s preparations for the BWF World Superseries Finals but the world number one is determined to do what she can to win an elusive title in Dubai.
The 23-year-old, who clinched the Olympic gold medal in Rio in August, suffered a 18-21, 22-24 defeat to Sun Yu of China in the opening group stage match at Hamdan Sports Complex Wednesday.
The Spanish shuttler is yet to win a superseries title in 2016 and is bidding to end an injury-hit but memorable year on a high at the season-ending climax in the UAE.
Her success in Brazil has spearheaded the development of badminton in Spain, where peripheral sports struggle for funding behind football, basketball and tennis.
“I think we are growing and many people in Spain know about badminton now,” Marin told Sport360. “It’s impressive that many people want to follow it on TV. They want to know everything about me and what tournaments I’m going to play. They are really excited about badminton.”
With much of her training this year aimed at peaking for Rio, it’s been a difficult adjustment back to competition since September.
Having first sustained a knee injury four months ago, the Huelva-born star has been forced to play through the pain barrier somewhat after coming through the important stages of recovery.
“We had a little break (after the Olympics). I had to take care of my body in the last tournament. It was really painful so I want to take care of my body because it’s really important and I’ll try to do my best,” said Marin.
Despite the restrictions in her movement, Marin produced a string of sensational performances, reaching the semi-finals in Hong Kong and Denmark recently.
In Hong Kong, she forced a third set in her last four defeat to Tai Tzu-ying, but it was a display that should provide her with plenty of confidence if she is to have a real shot at glory on Dubai soil.
Marin may be out of the running to win the overall Destination Dubai title, but the two-time world champion has enough skill and resilience to reach the final if she beats Akane Yamaguchi and in-form PV Sindhu Thursday and Friday.
“Everyone wants to beat me. I’m the only European that has been top of the world rankings and it’s like I broke China or a nation wall,” added Marin.
“I want to enjoy every game and I will try to win here because it’s one of the tournaments that I’ve never won. It’s, of course, one of my goals.”