DANE Peter Gade-Christensen injured his finger in a freak accident in training a few days before he left for the World Championships. But it has not stopped him from harbouring hopes to bag the men's singles crown.
Christensen is not only the top hope for Denmark but Europe are also looking at him to beat the Asia to the title. His countryman, Peter Rasmussen, was the last European to win the men's singles title in Glasgow in 1997.
And the 29-year-old Gade-Christensen said that he hoped to live up to the expectations.
Christensen said that the injury had forced him to wear a bandage for six weeks.
It has not bothered my preparations at all. I feel very good going into the World Championships. I have reached the final before and I will be aiming for nothing less than this here, said Gade-Christensen, who was runner-up to Indonesian H. Hendrawan in the 2001 edition in Seville.
The affable Gade-Christensen thinks that the battle for the men's singles title is quite open.
There are a bunch of guys who have the opportunity to win it. I still think Lin Dan (China) and Taufik Hidayat (Indonesia) are the crowd favourites, he said.
But there is nothing certain in sport. There are six or seven people going after them, including myself and Kenneth (Jonassen). It's a matter of taking chances and going for it. And that's what I am going to do.
And Gade-Christensen, who won the Korean Open this year, is surely taking heart from his performance in the Malaysian Open last month where he had to overcome four local players before losing to Lin Dan in the semi-finals.
I had to battle my way past the Malaysians. I did not have any easy matches. All went to rubber games and I am happy with how I fared despite going out in the semi-finals, said Gade-Christensen, who defeated Lee Tsuen Seng, Mohd Roslin Hashim, Wong Choong Hann and Mohd Hafiz Hashim.
In the World Championships, Gade-Christensen's first real test should come in the third round where he is tipped to play against Indonesian Sony Dwi Kuncoro. He opened his campaign in the first round yesterday against Yang Pedro of Guatemala.
Kuncoro has recovered from an injury he picked up in the Athens Olympics last August and his form remains unclear. He did not play in the Malaysia Open last month.
Gade-Christensen is tipped to play against China's Chen Hong for a place in the semi-finals of a half, which also has Lin Dan and Hafiz.
Before he went into competition, Gade-Christensen had good things to say about the organisers in the United States.
So far, my impression has been very good. I have played in the US Open before and our experiences here have been good, he said.
The crowd has been very good at understanding the game of badminton. I think that all of us hope that the Americans and the newcomers to the sport will come and watch the tournament. It will be good to spread the sport to as many people as possible.