Malaysia Open: Less Fighting, More Talking

In the off season, sisters Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva were told by their coach to “stop fighting on court” if they wanted better results. Taking the advice on board, the sisters have been attempting a more positive on-court communication at PETRONAS Malaysia Open 2023.

The result? A first HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 quarterfinal since the 2021 Indonesia Open.

“This achievement means a lot because last year was pretty rough for us, we lost our rhythm. To be in the quarterfinal of the year’s first tournament, we are delighted,” said the 27-year-old Stefani.

“More importantly, we are fighting as one again and supporting each other instead of fighting among ourselves.”

Elder sister Gabriela, 28, expanded: “We lost our communication on court. We were only arguing, and the energy around us was pretty negative. Our coach said, like it or not, we needed to start talking to each other more positively, even when winning a lot.

“We notice it has also improved our off-court relationship around badminton. Win or lose, we just sit and talk.”

Stefani and Gabriela try not to take their frustrations out on each other.

Gabriela and Stefani ended last year on poor form, exiting four of their final six tournaments in the first round.

The Bulgarians have had a strong start to their opening event of 2023, beating favoured home pair Tan Pearly/Thinaah Muralitharan in straight games before today’s hard-fought 21-13 15-21 21-17 victory over Treesa Jolly/Gayatri Gopichand Pullela.

“We know them well, we didn’t expect it to be easy after winning the first game. We knew we needed to work even harder,” said Stefani.

So have they stopped arguing altogether?

“We still do but it’s no longer aggressive communication,” laughed Stefani. “My personal goal is to be more positive on court, not think too much, support my sister and win some badminton matches.”

Victory against Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan, winners of their last six encounters, will see the Stoevas end another long wait – semifinals at a Super 1000.

The omen is good as their sole appearance, at the 2018 China Open, was secured after seeing off Chen and Jia.

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