PETALING JAYA; After an underwhelming start to the year, Liew Daren is feeling refreshed, mentally and physically, and is ready to step up his game.
And his first goal, will be to improve from his current lowly rank of No. 36 in the world to a more respectable position.
The 26-year-old was ranked as high as No. 10 in the world in 2012 but a spate of bad luck, poor form and injuries saw him hurtle down the rankings.
The KL-born shuttler also endured a miserable start to the year, crashing out in the first round of the Malaysian Open last month, where he lost tamely to China’s Du Pengyu.
Daren, however, believes that the Chinese New Year break was a timely one as he sought some rest.
“It was definitely a good break for me. I’m from KL so I didn’t go anywhere ... just visiting relatives around town. It was nice to get my mind off badminton for a little while,” said Daren.
“It was also good to let my body have a little timeout and now I’m feeling refreshed, fit and ready to mount a serious challenge in my upcoming events.
“For me, my main goal is to climb back up the rankings because now I’m ranked too low and have to go through the qualifiers in the bigger events.
“I didn’t start this year too well because even though I recovered from my injuries last year – hamstring and a swollen foot – I was still affected mentally and was afraid to push too hard.
“But I have to be better than that and I’m pushing hard in training once more ... in order to regain my sharpness on court.”
Daren will have two events to come good – the German Open from Feb 25-March 2 and the All-England from March 4-9.
The German Open in particular will be the ideal venue to prove his worth especially with top shuttlers like world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and China’s Chen Long skipping the event in order to focus on the All-England.
Meanwhile, Daren believes that the training routine is unaffected despite singles coach Rashid Sidek and backup shuttlers - Goh Soon Huat, Chong Yee Han and Tan Kian Meng committing themselves to the Malaysian Tigers team in Indonesia’s Djarum Super League in Surabaya.
“Rashid is not here but Hendrawan and (Tey) Seu Bock are still around with several juniors too. Together with Wei Feng, we are still pushed hard,” said Daren.