Greetings from Andrew Dabeka

November 1, 2007 8:41 AM

Dear Friends,

You missed an amazing match yesterday at the French Open in Paris. On Monday, I was promoted to the main draw. There were two spots I could have been put into, one against the 2004 Olympic Champion, Taufik Hidyat of Indonesia, and the other, a more winnable match against Malaysia's number 6 player. I got the harder of the two players, Taufik. I would have actually been happy with either opponent. Having a slightly easier chance to win my first round would have been nice and would have helped my Olympic qualification, but at the beginning of the season, I told my coach, Mike Bitten, that I was looking forward to a season of getting a chance to face the top players in the world. My wish came true and I was up against a very daunting foe. Since my focus for these past few weeks has been on training, and not necessarily on peaking for any of these 'super series' level events, I was doing quite a big volume of in the days prior to the match. This meant that I was feeling a bit tired arriving in Paris, and so I was just looking forward to enjoying the match, but not thinking at all about the outcome. I knew it would be difficult and was expecting that I would have a good match with him, but would be outclassed. It was a difficult match, and I did do well against him, but I was certainly not outclassed.

From the start of match, it was tough to get some rallies going; he is an extremely skilful player and when I was serving to him, it was difficult to get any kind of flow. Finally, after making some small adjustments, I did find my flow and maintained it through the match. He won the first set 21-17. By the end the first set, I was maximizing my game and doing everything that I could do to make him feel uncomfortable. I just continued this flow into the second set, and I believe that he was really getting quite tired and especially frustrated that such a 'low ranked' player should give him a hard time!

I won some big points and he actually made quite a few unforced errors to give me a huge lead and finally a 21-13 win.

I was lucky to have my Ottawa training partner, Stephan Wojcikiewicz, there to give me great coaching advice. At the 11 point interval, he came up to me and said, "Hey man, there is nothing to say. Just keep doing what you are doing.". Let me tell you, that hasn't happened too many times in my career! But seriously, he helped me to stay concentrated on continuing the tactics that were working, and not giving my opponent any hope.

In the third set, I continued to play my best, and this is where the story gets a bit hazy and slightly bitter sweet. So for those of you with weak hearts, read no further.

I built a very hefty lead of 17-13 in this third and final game. It was at this point where I wouldn't say I "lost" my focus, but something in the match changed. I'm sure it was a combination of him really fearing losing and thus trying a lot harder to chase shuttles down , and me feeling like "ha ha, now I have you", and then feeling like I needed to actually put the shuttle on the floor to win the match. It wasn't like I started going crazy and attacking everything, but there was a shift in my tactics, looking back on what happened yesterday. With me playing faster and a bit more aggressively, I think I sometimes gave him too many opportunities to counter attack. He caught up and went ahead 19-18, and then 20-19, and he took the last rally 21 -19. All day yesterday, I kept replaying those rallies in my head, going over and over, what I could have done differently to win the match. I allowed myself that indulgence yesterday, but today I am feeling more down to earth and am coming back to the focus that has gotten me this far in the first place. As long as I continue with this focus, the results, and possibly these HUGE wins, will come along with it!

I was lucky enough to get this match on video, so it will be in my badminton library forever!!!

I'm off to Denmark today for a week of training in preperation for the upcoming Norway and Scotland internationals, two tournaments which I am actually going to peak for. I'm looking forward to the tapering process, where I can lower my volume slightly and increase the intensity of my training; I have a feeling I will be playing very well by then!

Greetings from a sunny Europe!


ANDREW ROBERT DABEKA (c) 613.222.3302

Previous emails:Oct 24, Oct 9, Sept 29, Sept 8, Sept 1, Aug 14, Jult 31 and July 10, 2007

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