Among the standout matches of the last edition of the Thomas Cup was the clash between Anders Antonsen and Jonatan Christie. Denmark, heavily favoured to win the title on home soil, faltered in the semifinals, with the tie swinging Indonesia’s way after Christie beat Antonsen in a 100-minute thriller.
Just over six months since then, the Danes have another shot at the title with nearly the same team. Antonsen will again be tasked with delivering the second singles point. The Dane, who recently turned 25, talks about that pivotal match against Christie and his own evolution as a player.
What does it mean for you to be at the Thomas Cup once again?
It means a lot, obviously. It’s a big event… it’s always fun to play these team events, and always a great pleasure to represent your country and the work that you do back home. It’s a big occasion.
The last time, the Thomas Cup was on your home turf and obviously, that was something you must have wanted to win. Do you carry any regrets, that you couldn’t go all the way?
Of course, it was a big disappointment. But I would say I sleep well at night, knowing that we did everything that we could. And also personally, I know that I gave everything that I had in that week. We had this dream to get the gold and that was a big disappointment that we did not achieve that. But yeah, here we go again. And we get another shot. Only six months after, it’s usually two years. It’s a bit strange that it’s already Thomas Cup time again. But as I’d mentioned, it’s one of the most fun events. So I’m eager to get started.
That semifinal match against Jonatan Christie was one of the best matches of the Thomas Cup. Do you replay that match in your mind, that you could have done something differently?
Obviously, it would have been one of the biggest moments of my career to win that match on my home soil — not just in Denmark, but in my actual home town. And it was a great match. I’m eager to play that one back, get my revenge. That’s usually how I work. Yeah, if something bothers me, it’s definitely a loss.
So it still bothers you, at the back of your mind?
Yeah, a little bit, a little bit. But that being said, I know that I did my absolute best on the day, and I tried my best with what I had with me on that day. I feel like I have a better level than what I delivered that day. So yeah, that’s why I’m eager to play it again. I don’t know if we’re going to face Indonesia in this tournament. We have a tough group. I think we need to take one match at a time.
Since then, how’s the journey been for you?
Overall, I think the last one and a half years have been tough. There’s been many highlights. There’s been many goals for me, like the World Championships, the Olympics, the Thomas Cup. And I feel like in all the events, I’ve been that close, of reaching whatever I wanted to, but I kind of failed just before I got there. So it’s been a tough year for sure. I’ve been working very hard in practice. And then at the events I’ve come up short. So I’m eager to go out and achieve my goals. I’ve been so close on many occasions now. I feel like it’s almost there for me. So I need to get back in it. That’s my mentality, how I work. I realise that probably nothing is going to really, really make me lose my hope or something like that. Every time I face one of these defeats, I get back to work almost immediately, more motivated than before.
Interestingly, this is where you won the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals, beating Viktor Axelsen in the final. How has he changed as a player since then?
I think you saw for the first time, like the newer version of Viktor, you saw it here in those three tournaments (Asian Leg). That was a great version of him. He has been able to maintain that level. I believe that he’s a better player than he was back then. He’s always improving for sure. That’s the type of human he is, always striving to do better. He played very well last time he was here and he’s been able to maintain that hunger and willingness to improve.
And yourself? In terms of the various components of your game, how do you see your evolution?
I feel like I’ve always been a very skilful player tactically and mentally and technically. The layer that I’ve been needing to build up is the physique and the physical part. I’ve definitely improved a lot in the last one and a half years. My dedication is much bigger. I’m a more professional athlete by now, and I’m much stronger. I’ve also just turned 25, so I’m starting to become a young man. So yeah, definitely some of the key areas for me has been the physique and I’ve definitely improved on that. Whether my skills have become a lot better, I don’t know, hopefully a little bit. Hopefully, I’m a more mature player now.