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.