Updated: Jan 6
We have now come to the final course of the three course menu I have served you these past few days; the dessert. 😉 If you don’t know what I mean by this, you should go back and read the previous two posts that I published here on my website. 🙂 I’m of course talking about “The Early Night Show” that I joined recently. That’s a live talk show on Instagram hosted by The Real DKLo (@therealdklo) who is a food writer/speaker-presenter/marketer based here in Toronto. Many interesting things came out from the long talk I had with him and I wanted to share them with you.
In this last part of the talk show we talked about some of my experiences from having played in leagues abroad, training routines while at international tournaments, and the importance of always staying focused no matter the development in my matches. I have many good memories from participating in leagues like Italy and Denmark. It’s always great to be part of teams in an individual sport where I can meet and learn from new friends/teammates from different parts of the world. The same goes for my participation in the PBL earlier this year.
One of my biggest comebacks
Whenever you play a match regardless of what tournament you’re in, you always have to go in with full confidence and faith you can win. Not long ago I posted an old photo on my personal Instagram account from Denmark Open in 2015. I was up against a top ranked player and was down 12-19 in the third. The chances of coming back in this scenario are very slim, but I didn’t want to stop trying and fought till the end and managed to turn things around to win 26-24. It is one of my biggest comebacks and the whole time, I was constantly reminding myself not to think about the score and focus on the next point. Staying focused and refusing to give up are the two crucial things to bring with you on court no matter who your opponent is.
So in the talk show I shared some of my thoughts about my mindset towards certain things, about losing or not losing your focus, and it’s something I bring with me every time I go on court myself. I hope you will enjoy reading about it, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about all the topics we touched on in the talk show.
It was actually a quite amusing experience for me to join this kind of live online talk show so who knows, we may do it again some time. For now, have fun while going through the final part of my live online talk show debut!
Catch you again soon!
DKLo: Who do you find as your toughest opponent, and who is your favorite opponent?
I think my toughest opponent is everybody in the top 10 but I always look forward to playing Tai Tzu Ying and Ratchanok Intanon. Their skills are quite exceptional so it’s always nice to play against them. It’s always nice to play against the best because you can always learn something. It’s also good to see where you stand when you play against the higher ranked players.
So they are kind of like the same, both my toughest opponents and my favorite opponents. When I play someone ranked higher than me I’m always very excited and try to give it my all to see where I stand compared to them and where I need to improve.
DKLo: Obviously, you change strategy depending on who you’re facing, but do you change rackets as well?
No, I always stick to the same racket. I always have a bunch of rackets with me in my racket bag. Currently I play with the Yonex Astrox 88D and the strings and the tension are always the same - BG 80 and 30 pounds.
DKLo: When you’re playing against an easier opponent, do you find that sometimes you’re maybe losing focus?
I haven’t really faced an “easy” opponent … I don’t think there’s such a thing anymore at the level of these tournaments now. All opponents now in the top 30 have something they are strong at. So I really need to focus on what their strength is so I don’t lose focus in the match.
But obviously, sometimes if I’m leading 18-10 it’s really easy to lose focus because you want to take it easy and save energy. But you can’t think like that and it’s a very big mistake I have learned from the past. So what helps me is thinking like it’s 18 all or something so I’ll still maintain that focus and intensity. Even at a match point, you can’t let your guard down and you have to stay focused… because at any moment the momentum can change.
DKLo: How was your experience at the PBL? And how was it playing with Lee Yong Dae?
It was definitely a really good experience! It was my second time playing in the PBL - same team but different team members. The team I played with in January this year was amazing. The spirit was really good and we had fun. Everybody got along really well and I learned a lot from being on the same team with top players like Kim Ha Na, Bodin, Thanongsak, Lee Cheuk Yiu and Lee Yong Dae, who is a legend. I got to practice and play with players like Lee Yong Dae and he is so humble, hard working and very kind.
You would maybe think someone like that would not take training seriously because they are already good, but they still train really hard. He would even take time out to help the juniors and it’s nice to watch and nice to learn from.
So the whole PBL experience was just incredible because we don’t have that here in Canada. The funding, the resources, the exposure that it gets in India is so different from what we get in Canada.
DKLo: How did it feel to have team mates in PBL who are not from the same country?
It’s different (good different). There are so many things you can learn from them. The different training routines they have or the different skills that they work on. Everybody’s training is different. So it was nice to be in a team with them. Everybody was helping each other. And everybody’s character and personality is different so everybody brought something different to the team. It was definitely nice to be a part of.
DKLo: You have played in the European leagues as well, right?
Yes, my first European league was in Italy. And then I played in the Danish league in the 2014-2015 season. It’s different and also has its own setup. In the Danish league the regulations were different with for example a golden set that I never heard of elsewhere. In case of a draw after all ties, the teams had to play one golden set to decide the team match. It’s different again today though. But it’s fun to experience because every league is different and you obviously meet different players.
DKLo: How much time do you spend training while at tournaments?
It’s hard to say because it really depends on how I do at the tournaments. Tournaments usually start on Wednesdays. If I’m going to Asia I have to get there early to adjust to the time difference. So I would get there either Saturday night or Sunday and then I would be training Monday and Tuesday. And then if I have a match on Wednesday, it depends if it’s in the morning or the night. If it’s Wednesday night then I usually have a light hit in the morning before playing the match at night. If I lose first round, then Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is regular training.
DKLo: When you train, do you train differently depending on who your next opponent is going to be?
Yes. You know who you’re playing when the draw comes out a few weeks before every tournament and everyone’s style is different, so you wanna make sure you’re ready for a certain style of play.
DKLo: Do you plot your tournaments and look forward to who you will most likely meet in the next rounds, or do you really just take it one match at a time and don’t even care about what the second round looks like?
No, I don’t really plot past the first round because the first round is already really tough. So I like to take it just one match at the time.
DKLo: Right now you obviously don’t do this anymore, but was it challenging for you when for some big tournaments you had to go through qualification before entering the first round?
I had surgery in 2016 after the Olympics, and my ranking dropped to 63. So when I registered for the bigger tournaments I had to play the qualification. And they were always really tough because qualifications are always full of new juniors that are really good but with no ranking.
The qualification draw itself is tough also because it’s usually two matches a day, sometimes three, since they assign only one day before the tournament to complete the qualification draw. And then the next day you’re playing the first round of the tournament. So playing qualification was actually quite tough to play even though you’re not necessarily playing the very top players. But I’m glad I still experienced it and it was a good type of training to get good match practice in.
It definitely made me cherish being able to play first round on Wednesday and just focus on one match a day though. Playing qualifications definitely made me focus more on my endurance and how to recover fast in-between matches.
DKLo: Are the rumors that you’ll be retiring in a few years true?
I don’t exactly have a retirement date. I’m not saying that right after the Olympics I’m gonna retire, or in two years I’m gonna retire. It’s really just depending on how my body is feeling and how my progress is.
I like to think that I wanna keep playing if I can still see that I’m improving. Everybody probably has that feeling inside them and know when their peak is and when they have reached their ceiling. I don’t have a planned date but it really depends on my game. Right now I still feel I have room to improve and I want to keep pushing so I don’t think that right now I have a fixed date.
DKLo: You mentioned that in 2019 you were feeling it was really going well and then this pandemic came. That definitely sucks in terms of time, doesn’t it?
For me it’s actually okay because it gives me more time to get stronger and to work on things that I haven’t worked on. I don’t think I will suddenly lose everything I gained in 2019 because of the pandemic, it might make me rusty but I hope I can still grow in other ways. Maybe I was going in a good direction but I hope I can keep carrying that into 2021.
DKLo: Is there anything special that you wanna say to any of your friends and your fans here before we go into the give-away?
Well, I’m just happy to be here and I’m loving all the support and comments. It’s been fun to read, or trying to read... 😜 (phone screen is too small)
Thank you guys for having me! It’s been real fun to be live here. It’s my first talk show on live Instagram and hope I can do more of this in the future. I hope everyone stays healthy and safe and that we can get through this together.
And then DKLo finished off the talk show by drawing a winner of an autographed Michelle Li Yonex shirt…