LIEW Daren's playing career has stagnated after the near perfect performance in the Proton Malaysia Open in January.
Daren turned in a powerful performance then where he defeated several world class players including Thailand's Boonsak Ponsana before bowing out to Denmark's World No 2 Peter Gade Christensen in the quarter-finals.
However, a right heel injury suffered in the Proton Malaysia Open, has prevented the national elite back-up shuttler from progressing any further. His early round defeats in the German Open (Feb), India Open (April) and Asian Championships (April) resulted in national singles coach Rashid Sidek's decision to ground him for two months.
Rashid's move paid off as extra training helped Daren regain his touch in last month's Pahang Open where he beat Hafiz Hashim before losing in the quarter-finals to Chong Wei Feng.
"I was depending on painkillers when I was competing in tournaments from February. I wasn't really training then as I feared for my heel and that was why I lost in the early rounds," the 22-year-old disclosed in Johor Baru yesterday.
"However, I have recovered fully, thanks to rehabilitation and I was able to focus fully on training. It helped as I made a mark in the Pahang Open."
Daren, touted as the next Malaysian hope, gives himself another one-and-the-half years to make a mark on the sport.
"My target this year is to do well in GP Gold tournaments. I have no choice as I can't play in Super Series tournaments until I perform well in the lower-tier events. However, this is a challenge and I'm determined to overcome it," he said.
"My main problem is speed and power. I'm working on it very hard under the watchful eyes of my coaches," added the World No 76.
Daren's campaign, however, came to an end in the second round yesterday when he was beaten 21-18, 21-14 by Hong Kong's Hu Yun.