Tuesday, September 11, 2007

World Championships '07- Part 2

I wrote in the previous post how the crowd in my match against Taufik Hidayat was mostly against me. In the next match (last 16) against Hafiz Hashim, a Malaysian, the crowd was even noisier and of course supporting him.

I'd recovered quite well from my match the previous day. I felt a little stiff in my legs when I woke up but I had a warm up training session with Saina and our coach and felt much better after that. I was on only at 8 in the evening so I had plenty of time to rest, eat lunch and do some stretching exercises once more. I also found time to watch a couple of episodes of 'House'. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys medical drama and comedy. Hugh Laurie is insane!

I'd played Hafiz once before in 2005 and had lost quite badly. But coming off a win agaisnt Taufik, I was feeling very confident. I started off well, took an early lead, and won the first game 21-19. I was able to get off to a good start in the second game as well but I had trouble with the air conditioning in the latter half of the second game and made too many unforced errors. I lost the second 18-21. I was quite happy with my fitness and felt confident that I could keep up in the third game, and I also saw that Hafiz was tiring towards the end of the second. He was trying risky shots, taken more time than usual between rallies and breathing hard. That gave me even more of a mental boost. I was able to start well once again, changed ends at 11-8 and won 21-15.

Of course I was happy that I won and had reached the quarterfinal, but I was also thinking about my next match against Lin Dan. I'd lost to him twice before and was looking forward to playing him, especially since I was playing well. I guess I did'nt recover too well from my match against Hafiz because I was cramping again and woke up the next morning with sore and stiff legs. I did my usual warm up in the morninig and felt a little better. I was on at about 3 in the afternoon this time so I did'nt get to watch any more 'House', but I will catch up with that later.

The difference between playing someone like Lin Dan and anyone else, is that it takes just that little bit more to win a rally. I knew this as I'd played him before but it still takes a little while to get used to it. I was down in the early part of the first game but I recovered to get to game point at 20-19. In hindsight, I guess I should've waited a lttle more in that rally for a good opportunity before trying to finish it off, but then its much harder to think at that time. I let the game slip away 20-22 and never really recovered from that. In the second I could feel that I was'nt able to keep up the pace any more. I was also at the fast end in the second game so that meant that I had to attack a lot more than in the first, but I was'nt able to do it. I lost the second 9-21.

Looking back, of course I am happy about the result, it is my best result so far, but I'm not so happy about the way it ended. I feel like I can do quite a bit better than this. There are still a lot of things I have to work on and theres a lot of room for improvement. I'm working harder than ever before now, and hopefully that pays off soon. I'll be playing the Chinese Taipei Open next from 18-23 September and then heading to Denmark from there. I'll be around Europe for about 2 months or so and return in december. I will be training with Morten Frost while in Denmark and Im looking forward to learning from him. If I'm allowed to take my computer with me ( with these new security regulations, I dont know ) I'll have regular updates from Taipei and then Europe.

Friday, September 07, 2007

World Championships 2007

As some of you may know, I reached the quarterfinals of the World Badminton Championships held at kuala lumpur betwee 13th and 19th August 2007. This is the best result so far in my career.

I had been planning for about a month before the tournament to get to KL as early as possible so I can get adjusted to the climate, food and if possible get to practice in the tournament hall. So when I contacted Lee Tseun Seng of KL Racket Club, a private badminton club in Kuala Lumpur and they said I could train with them, I took off as soon as I could, about 11 days before the tournament. Players in the club included Tseun Seng and Sairul of Malaysia and Andrew Smith of England, all of whom are higher ranked than me.

Usually for me, in the last couple of weeks leading up to a tournament, I feel better if I dont cut down on training too much, but cut down on playing instead. I might only play about 1 1\2 hours instead of the usual 3 or so. I dont cut down too much on the running sessions and weight training. I've found that this works for me.

I was drawn to play Juergen Koch of Austria in the first round. He'd beaten me once before but I knew I had a very good chance in this match as I was feeling very good physically. I won 21-15,21-19. Did'nt really play too well, cos its hard to get adjusted to the court conditions when theres so much wind in the hall. But I guess all that matters is that I won. Usually when you get through the first round of any tournament, thats when you feel like you're well and truly in and thats exactly how I felt. I had a day off before second round match against Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia. He does'nt need too much introduction, does he?

I'd played Taufik twice before, and though I'd lost both in straight games, I had come very close. Coming close and actually winning are two completely different things, and I knew it. But I felt that if I was able to keep calm towards the last few points and not get anxious, I could at least win 1 game off him.I had talked to the Indian national coach, P.Gopichand and we'd decided how I needed to play. Our match was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. but ended up starting at 2:45 p.m. because the previous matches on our court took longer than expected. This messed up my warm up, and I was starting to feel hungry as well but it was the same for Taufik so I was'nt too worried.

I won 21-14,24-26,22-20 in about 75 minutes. I was dehydrated after the match and cramped up in my legs, hands and abdomen. So while I was happy at winning the match, I was thinking about my next match and if I would recover in time for it. Luckily for me I only had to play at 8 p.m. the next day so that gave me more than a day to recover. That turned out to be more than enough. When I woke up the next day, I felt fine, a little stiff but that was to be expected. I went to the practice hall for a warm up, and I felt fine.

One thing that I experienced for the first time was playing a big match in a country like Malaysia. Badminton is very popular in Indonesia and Malaysia and playing in these countries is unbelievable. The crowd gets so loud (against me on this occasion, but thats fine) and it is such a great atmosphere to play in. This is what we play for, to play in front of a big, noisy crowd and it was a great experience.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hello everyone

Its been a long time since I wrote. As some of you may know, I had a good run in the recently concluded World Championships in Kuala Lumpur. I have got a few requests asking me to continue writing, so I will. Maybe it wont be so much about the matches, but more about my general experience. There should be a new post in a few days.