Golden opportunity for Lin Dan

My accreditation for the ABC isn’t through yet. This is the first time I’m facing such a problem. I think the problem has arisen because this is a Commonwealth Games test event, and so duties have been split, between the BAI and the CWG committee. Apparently, there was an Excel sheet that had to be filled, but I couldn’t find it anywhere on the BAI or BWF websites. PTI filed a story saying there was some chaos at the stadium… but that was to be expected.
Will be flying in to Delhi tonight. If the accreditation doesn’t come through, reckon I will buy a ticket and watch it from the stands.

Here’s a piece I filed for DNA yesterday.

Golden opportunity for Lin Dan

The three-time world champion is at the lowest point of his career. Can he rebound in time and win the ABC?

Dev S Sukumar/ DNA

Lin Dan is at the strangest moment of his badminton career. Never before has he faced the questions that confront him now. The Badminton Asia Championships (ABC) is an event he has never considered seriously before; but it is an event he needs to win now.

As he enters the contest as no.2 seed, he will look at the tournament to regain some of the confidence with which he dominated world badminton for the better part of the last decade.
The three-time world champion has been a shadow of himself since the World Championships in Hyderabad last year. China decided to focus on building its domestic league instead of sending its players to Super Series events, and a reluctant Lin was forced to lead his squad. A shock loss in the league followed, and since then, the great left-hander has been at the lowest ebb of his badminton life.

Lin is known as a gutsy fighter whose losses in any year can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Yet, after the Worlds, he lost to players either way below his level, or to opponents he has always had the measure of. Korean rookie Choi Ho Jin upset him late last year, after which, at the 100th All England in March, Lin looked off-colour during his loss to countryman Bao Chunlai in the quarters. At the Swiss Open he lost to Dane Peter Gade for the first time in three years. With an erratic genius like Taufik Hidayat, these would have been normal occurrences, but Lin Dan hates to lose. With the Thomas Cup coming up, Lin will be eager to win a tournament that will be minus his most dangerous competitors.

Taufik Hidayat will obviously be the centre of attention, for his skills with the racket are unmatched. But there are a few others who could cause a few flutters. Chief among them could be Kenichi Tago of Japan, whose display at the All England assured observers that a new phenomenon was on the way. Tago combines physical power with astonishing finesse and indomitable will. Choi Ho Jin, who had an upset win over Lin late last year, could be another who could spring a surprise. Then there are Chinese young guns Wang Zhengming and Gao Huan; Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana and Tanongsak, and Indonesia’s Dionysius Rumbaka.

In the women’s singles, Saina Nehwal should be able to breeze through to the semis. Perhaps the hardest contest could come in the last four from Hong Kong’s Yip Pui Yin, who beat world No.1 Wang Yihan at the Swiss Open. Some of the lesser known Chinese qualifiers, such as Xia Jingyun, could also cause a few headaches in the main draw.

Gayatri bows out in qualifying: India’s Gayatri Vartak fell in the qualifying draw of the women’s singles on Monday. Gayatri beat Chandrika de Silva (Sri Lanka) in the first round, but fell to Liu Xin of China 21-12 21-11 in the second.

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About badmintonmania

Sometimes I wonder if I'm the Indian in Thoreau's Walden who makes cane baskets and is surprised nobody wants them. A. was talking about discipline when she said: "But Dev, if you want to move ahead in life, you'll have to be like that," and she may as well have defined everything else for me. I've played the low percentage game for too long to believe there's anything in it but the romance; the odds keep getting jacked up higher and higher; and you may be a good Idealist but a worse Fool.
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