With just a few hours to go for the Total BWF World Championships 2015, a mood of cautious optimism, rather than brash confidence, pervaded the air as the defending champions spoke of their hopes in retaining their title.
Neither Chen Long nor Carolina Marin – the defending singles champions and the most dominant players of the season so far – were willing to risk an assessment in their favour. Both played down their chances.
Marin (left) had some reason to sound cautious, for she is coming off an injury scare.
“I injured my right foot a month ago. I was sad, I thought I couldn’t play the World Championships. I talked it over with my coach and I started to train two weeks ago. I’m very happy to be here. I don’t want to think of my condition. I prefer not to think in terms of my percentage of fitness.
“I’m very excited. I like this country, and the Indonesia Open is my favourite tournament. I know I have many fans here. I know I had a bad result at the Indonesia Open in June (she lost in the first round), but I was tired after winning the Australian Open. I don’t want to think about my title defence.”
Chen Long, on the other hand, said he was “well prepared”, adding that “playing in Indonesia is special. The hall is crowded and noisy, and there is a lot of pressure, but it is the same for all players.”
Korea’s Ko Sung Hyun and Shin Baek Choel (below), surprise Men’s Doubles winners last year, head into the World Championships having played just three tournaments this season. Shin was required to do mandatory military duty earlier this year, but the Korean said it had not affected his game.
“I was off the courts for a month due to my military training, but my friends helped me get back into rhythm quickly. We are well prepared; we have had good results this year,” Shin said.
A short while earlier, Indonesia’s top contenders (above) too addressed the media. Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan (Men’s Doubles); Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir (Mixed Doubles); Greysia Polii and Nitya Krishinda Maheswari (Women’s Doubles) and Tommy Sugiarto (Men’s Singles) hoped they would bring glory to Indonesia on home soil.
The one defining element of the World Championships this time is expected to be the crowd. All players will hope to feed off the crowd’s energy, but Indonesia’s players will be aware that the crowd’s expectations could begin to weigh heavily on their minds.
Polii, who goes into the event with some impressive results with partner Maheswari, spoke of how she had to play down the expectations of home fans in her mind.
“It’s the biggest event. I want to enjoy the tournament. I want to manage my expectations and those of my partner. We just have to focus on each game,” Polii said.
“What made the difference was the confidence we got from winning the Asian Games. That confidence is still with us; we just need to be more consistent. The last year since we won the Asian Games, we have looked at what we need to go to be at the top… I don’t mind the expectations. I’m nervous but excited at the same time.”