Seven Weeks of Learning, Adapting on the Road

It’s been a long journey for women’s pair Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan – seven weeks and three days to be exact.

The two have been part of a strong Malaysian team taking part at the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup 2021 in Vantaa, Finland and TotalEnergies BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals 2020 in Aarhus, Denmark.

The world No.18 duo have had a gruelling run of competitions in Europe, having also competed at VICTOR Denmark Open 2021 and YONEX French Open 2021 following the team events.

“This is the first time we’ve been away from home for so long. Travelling is definitely tiring,” concedes Muralitharan, comfortably seated with partner Tan at the lobby of Westin Hotel in Nusa Dua, Bali, where the badminton family will be based for the three back-to-back Asian Leg tournaments, which kick off with the DAIHATSU Indonesia Masters 2021 next week.

“In the beginning, we couldn’t adjust but slowly we got used to it because it’s been a few weeks already from Europe to Asia now. It’s hard because we still have a bit of jet lag but it shouldn’t be a problem for us.”

Tan is feeling ‘well rested and ready’ for the Bali gig.

After a number of lengthy and tough matches, Tan, a 2018 Asian and World Junior Championships silver medallist, suffered a shoulder strain in the loss to Japanese duo Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida at the Sudirman Cup, leaving the 21-year-old unsure if she would be able to play her next match.

Tan said: “I’ve taken enough time to have a good rest since the Uber Cup, and I’ve managed to get over the shoulder pain by working with my physio and my coach doing some light skill work. It’s definitely much better.”

Tan and Muralitharan competed in some lengthy matches in Europe, including against Olympic champions Greysia Polii and Apriyani Rahayu in a three-gamer lasting 91 minutes.

Opting for a solid week of training in Germany over competing at the HYLO Open 2021, the two are back together on Asian soil with their takeaways from the European tour. Not the kind that comes in a nicely packaged box with bio-degradable cutlery, but one that helps you grow and learn.

“There is still room for improvement for both of us,” admits Muralitharan. “We are still learning from each game. And I hope we can learn more from the more experienced players. Hopefully, we will do well in Indonesia.”

The aim is high for the budding shuttlers.

“Paris 2024 (Olympics) is our main goal. In the meantime, we are just hoping to raise our ranking and target a top 15 finish this year. If it goes higher, it’s a bonus.”

Tan/Muralitharan face fellow Malaysians Vivian Hoo and Lim Chiew Sien in the Indonesia Masters opening round.

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