It doesn't happen everyday that one plays an international match past midnight. And, Peter Gade definitely didn't want this to happen that day in March at the All-England Championship in Birmingham.
The Danish veteran, who was the India Open Super Series 2011 finalist, took to the court past midnight to play his first-round match at the 'Wimbledon of badminton'. And he lost. It was 2.30 am.Ask him about that bizarre incident, and his helpless shrug says a million words. The 35-year-old, who has decided to retire this year, feels the scheduling of that tournament was at fault and his persistent ankle and knee injuries did not make things any better. But a first-round exit in an empty stadium was surely not how the Dane expected his last All-England to be like.
"There were four courts there and only 30 mins allotted to each match (in the schedule),” Gade, who is in New Delhi for the India Open, said.
His Facebook update --- with which he is very meticulous --- also reflected the same. “Not the way I dreamed of saying goodbye to this tournament, but before leaving home on Sunday evening, I knew there was a risk of this happening,” Gade, the 1999 All-England champion, had written on March 8.
The last few months have not been the greatest for him and the Dane's injury woes have multiplied. “I know it's not easy for me, being 35- year-old. My body is telling me in many ways that I have to be careful. But I am trying my best to push myself in every area."
But falling short at crucial moments now is very frustrating, especially when it happened in the European Championships last week. He was leading 18-12 in the decider in the quarters but couldn't keep up with Sweden's Henri Hurskainen and lost. "In the third game I led, I had the match under control but I still lost. I have lost matches in the past few months which I would never lose," the four-time European champion said.
And maybe that is why, he has come to the India Open with very little expectations. "I don't expect to play my best here, but I will still give it my best.”
He wants to peak at the right time for the Olympics, take care of his ankle surgery thereafter, and play a few more tournaments with a free mind. But what he wants the most is to be back home with his two daughters.
Pantawane, Pandit in
India's Arundhati Pantawane and Neha Pandit have made it to the main draw, which will be played on Wednesday.