NATIONAL coach Misbun Sidek feels that Malaysian players need to be mentally stronger for the World Badminton Championships in Hyderabad on Aug 10-16 despite some good results in the just concluded Yonex Sunrise Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold in Johor Baru.
Lee Chong Wei won the men’s singles while Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong bagged the men’s doubles in the Malaysia Open Gold while Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui finished runners-up in the women’s doubles.
Chong Wei, who also won the Indonesia Open two weeks ago, is in impeccable form but his inability to handle pressure in big tournaments will be the focus of his preparation for the world meet.
He has to learn to deal with off court distractions while concentrating only on his game.
Misbun said Chong Wei is on the right track for the World Championships. "His performance of late has showed that he has been training very hard. Everything is in place and I just need to polish his skills and self-confidence," said Misbun.
"Chong Wei’s problem is his inner strength as he tends to succumb to pressure in big tournaments, especially against top players like Lin Dan of China.
"He should add more speed to his game and try new things during competitions. He must master the ability to organise himself against different opponents."
Chong Wei’s best performance in the World Championships was winning a bronze in his debut in 2005. The Penang-born player has declared his intention to reach the final in Hyderabad.
Misbun said Chong Wei must learn to decline invitations to dinners or parties when training for a major competition whose date is not far way.
"He must learn to say ‘no’ in a nice way. Everyone wants him around because he’s an icon but at times he should decline, "said Misbun.
Meanwhile, coach Rexy Mainaky is happy he is getting a lot of feedback from the doubles players who are now more ready to talk about their on-court problems.
"When I first arrived here, I had to plan for them everything without knowing their preferences. They are now more communicative and I appreciate their feedback as I now know their needs.
"As for Kien Keat-Boon Heong, their performance has improved but they need to put in more effort on getting focused.
"They cannot be dropping a game in every match. Their opponents may then get the confidence to beat them, " he said.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong started brilliantly and won several titles including the 2006 Asian Games gold and the 2007 All England, but pressure got to them, which led to setbacks in the 2007 Kuala Lumpur World Championships and in last year’s Beijing Olympics.
However, the pair are regaining their rhythm and the victories in this year’s Swiss Open and the Malaysia Open Gold, should put them in a fighting mood for the Hyderabad mission.
They have admitted that pressure was the reason for their failures in the previous world meet and Olympic Games.
Zakry Latif and Fairuzizuan Tazari need to work even harder after they flopped in the Malaysia Open where they lost to national back-up pair Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong in the quarter-finals.
The defeat was mainly because of the poor form of Zakry who has been slacking in training. However, Rexy has not given up on the pair and wants to work on them for the world meet.
"The defeat has opened their eyes. I have told Zakry that as a pair, their performance has stagnated and there is a need to put in extra effort. They should be making progress but instead a junior pair have caught up with them," said Rexy.
As for Pei Tty-Eei Hui, Rexy said they need to analyse their game and work on their self confidence.
"Their fitness is fine but they lack variety in their game. As for confidence, the pair tend to play better when there’s no pressure. When pressure gets to them, they don’t know how to handle it. I need to speak to them on how to overcome this problem," added Rexy.