French Open: ‘I Need to Start from Zero Again’

For a reigning world champion, Kunlavut Vitidsarn has barely made a ripple on the circuit since his famous title win last August.

His semifinal finish at the Indonesia Masters in January was his best performance after a series of early losses. At the YONEX French Open 2024 yesterday, he had to scramble to stay alive in the event after blowing four match points against Brian Yang in a tense opening round.

Vitidsarn readily admits he’s not at the level he was last year. Rather unusually for a top player, he doesn’t hesitate to attribute his loss of form to the pressure he’s been under as world champion.

“I’m very happy to be here, I’ve been under a lot of pressure. It’s a new performance now, it’s okay if it’s not good, I can learn. Brian Yang is a top player but today I’m happy I could win,” he said after his 21-13 13-21 22-20 win.

“At every tournament I have pressure. If I lose, I go back to training hard. Now men’s singles is very difficult in every round. I have to change and it doesn’t work in every tournament. At some tournaments shuttles are slow, but if you keep playing fast, it gets tiring. So you have to change your game, sometimes defend first, sometimes attack first.”

What explains his loss of form after the World Championships?

“After the World Championships, I had a lot of interviews to do, then I had injury and fever, and I had to be in hospital,” he recalls. “There wasn’t much training. When I returned to training I got very tired. After that, I could not control my mindset because I needed rest. Everyone knows that I have to rest for long time. But when I come back, there’s pressure in every tournament, and under pressure you cannot control the shuttle. You start to make easy mistakes under pressure.

“Physically I’m fine. As for confidence – for me now, it’s difficult. My performance hasn’t been good, and men’s singles is very hard. I need to take it step by step.

“Last year my mindset was very strong. This year I need to start from zero again.”

BWF World Tour News

Title Sponsor