Sunday, August 18, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTON PHOTO
Few players get the honour of playing ten World Championships in their career; fewer still get to play their tenth World Championships on home soil. Switzerland’s Sabrina Jaquet will be one of the lucky ones when the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 begin tomorrow in Basel.
It will also be her last World Championships.
“When I heard Basel would host it two years ago, I was in a difficult period with a lot of injuries. I was like, I want to be there in two years. It kept me alive in badminton, to have a goal, to be here. I’m happy I’m quite fit and I hope I can play my best. I was injured last year; that should have been my tenth. This is my tenth and last. Because my goal is to play until the Olympics and I cannot imagine myself playing in 2021.
“It’s special this time, and I look forward to it,” adds Jaquet, whose first World Championships was in Madrid 2006. “I won’t put pressure on myself. I remember always playing well here at the Swiss Open in this hall. The shuttle plays slow here and I think it will help me.”
Jaquet is one of the most experienced players on the circuit; among her female contemporaries, only a few are still active – players like Yip Pui Yin, Linda Zetchiri and Saina Nehwal. But Jaquet actually started as a doubles player, switching to singles only later in her career.
“I remember the 2006 World Championships quite well, I was playing women’s doubles,” recalls Jaquet. “I was playing with an older partner (Corinne Joerg), I was eight years younger. I was lucky to have her as a partner, and I learnt a lot from her. We had a good game against a Malaysian pair. I switched to singles later, which isn’t normal. When you come from small countries, it’s different.”
How has Jaquet managed to keep going for nearly a decade and half?
“It’s just passion, because badminton in Switzerland is really small. Many people ask me why I keep going, but it’s just passion. I love to play.
“It’s my life right now, I know there will be another life after badminton which is not so far away. But me, the last 14 years on the international circuit have been a great journey, I’ve learnt so much, gained so many different experiences. I also learnt languages through badminton, so it’s a great opportunity and great lessons for life. I’m from the French part in Switzerland, but all my coaches would speak in German, so I had to learn German. I also learnt English thanks to badminton. So it’s a great thing to carry on in my life.”
Antonsen Eyes Podium Finish
Meanwhile, the top contenders at the World Championships all expressed their confidence as the countdown to the event ticked towards the opening day.
“The main difference from last year was that last year I wasn’t the top seed. This year I am. I will just take it one match at a time,” said men’s singles defending champion Kento Momota, who added that was encouraging that the Para-Badminton World Championships were being held alongside the World Championships.
Indonesia Open runner-up Anders Antonsen said he would be disappointed if he returned home without a medal: “I have a goal to leave with a medal. I won’t be satisfied with anything less.”
Men’s singles second seed Chou Tien Chen, who arrived in Basel on the back of title wins in Indonesia and Thailand, hoped his recent form would convert to a good performance in Basel: “Every player is tough. I want to demonstrate my attitude on court. I have been training for my best performance here and I will be trying to improve through the week. I have the support of my fans and well-wishers and I’m just looking at staying focussed this week.”