STOCKY mixed doubles specialist Zheng Bo of China puts on a fierce look when he is on court. But behind that stern demeanour lies a gentle giant of world badminton.
Although he has lost his cool once with his relatively new young partner, Ma Jin, during the All-England in March, he brushed it off as an action in the heat of the moment.
“I am actually a nice person if you get to know me,” said the 28-year-old Zheng Bo, flashing a wide grin.
“I get carried away during matches. I am focused and think a lot about the game while playing. That is why I look serious all the time.
“I agree that I was frustrated in the All-England (semi-final) defeat because I know that Ma Jin can perform much better. She is new and inexperienced but she is a good player.”
The seasoned campaigner has been given the responsibility to built his partnership with Ma Jin to at least equal the previous successes he enjoyed with Gao Ling.
The Zheng Bo-Gao Ling partnership dominated the world badminton circuit in 2007 and 2008. But they failed to land two major titles — finishing as the runner-up in the 2007 world championships and crashing out in the early round of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Gao Ling left the national team after the Beijing Games and Zheng Bo went on to team up with Ma Jin last November.
Zheng Bo said that their immediate goal was to emerge as champions in the world championships, which will be played in Hyderabad from Aug 10-16.
“Although I have more experience than Ma Jin, I treat her as equal. I am confident that we will rise to become a top pair,” he said.
Zheng Bo-Ma Jin are now ranked at No. 18 after having won two titles this year — the Swiss and Indonesia Open.
They could add the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold to their bag before the world championships.
The second seeds beat Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Vanessa Neo Yu Yan yesterday and will play against Malaysians Ong Jian Guo-Chong Sook Chin today for a place in the semi-finals.