Antonsen on full alert after wake-up call in Thailand Open

Denmark men’s singles shuttler Anders Antonsen in action against Malaysia’s Leong Jun Hao during the group match of Thomas Cup Finals at Hi-Tech Sports Centre in Chengdu, China on Tuesday. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Danish shuttler Anders Antonsen will proceed with caution in the Malaysian Masters after he was dealt a rude awakening in the Thailand Open last week.

Antonsen, who has been on fire this year, was the hot favourite to beat world No. 27 Angus Ng Ka Long in the men’s singles first round in Bangkok but instead lost out in three games.

The shock defeat has served as a wake-up call for the world No. 4 and he is now refusing to take anything for granted in the Malaysian tourney starting today at the Axiata Arena despite being one of the favourites for the title.

Prior to his defeat to Angus, Antonsen only lost twice this year to India’s Lakhsya Sen in the second round of the All-England and Indonesia’s Chico Aura in the last eight of the French Open in March.

The Dane captured the Malaysian Open at the same venue, the Indonesian Masters in Jakarta in January and the European Championships in April.

Antonsen was also part of the Danish team that won the European Team Championships in Poland.

“Overall, the men’s singles competition is more open now,” said Antonsen.

“About five years ago, you could cruise through your first two round matches but now there’s danger from the start.

“I faced this against Angus and lost.

‘‘This shows that anyone can win on their best day.

“I can see that the players ranked from No. 10 to No. 40 are much stronger nowadays than 10 years ago.

“In the Malaysian Masters, I might be among the favourites but I know I can lose to anyone if I’m not at my best,” added Antonsen, who will meet a qualifier.

“Overall, I’ve had a good year, so I have confidence in myself,” said Antonsen.

“I won close to 30 matches and only lost three so far this year, so this is still good and I want to continue this path.”

The other title contenders are world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, China’s world No. 6 Li Shifeng, homester and newly-crowned Thailand Open champion Lee Zii Jia.

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