By RJ Mitchell
ALEX DUNN has admitted that a good run at the Daihatsu Indonesia Masters this week is vital to his Olympic hopes.
Alex and partner Adam Hall trail English duo Sean Vendy and Ben Lane in the race to claim the single slot available for Team GB’s Men’s Doubles entry at this summer’s Paris Olympics.
The Scottish champions are in 26th place in the race for Paris, having 36,671 points while their English rivals are 18th and perched on 46, 846 with Chris and Matthew Grimley sitting 44th on 28976.
With Lane and Vendy not in action in Indonesia this week and the qualification period concluding on April 28, the Scots are in no doubt that they must make the most of their opportunity to close the gap.
He said: “If we want to be that pair who make Paris we need to do better and Sean Vendy and Ben Lane are ahead as they’ve had the better results.
“Last week (Yonex Sunrise India Open) was maybe a missed opportunity for us to claw back some of the points deficit and this week we need to push on.
“So the key is to start producing wins we are not expected to make for the remainder of the qualification period if we are going to catch them.
“Although they went home this week, towards the end of last year they took in a couple of Indian tournaments and made the most of these, so it is about picking and choosing your tournaments.
“So it’s one couple for Paris and it will be tough to make it but we have an intense training block after the Scottish Nationals to really try and give us some extra impetus and give us the best chance to catch Sean and Ben.”
Alex and Adam have been drawn against the ‘Canadian’ duo of Adam Dong and Nyl Yakura at this week’s HSBC BWF Super 500 event in Jakarta and know the opposition well.
Alex explained: “We have played them twice. Once at the Commys and then also at the last World Champs although they pulled out with injury in Copenhagen, so we know them pretty well.
“The Commys were a couple of years back and we beat them in two sets which were competitive but also comfortable as well, if that makes any sense!
“That said they’ve also improved in their partnership but we are feeling confident and looking forward to a good match.
“If we can maintain the standard we produced in India last week then I would hope we can get the win again although you never know what will happen on the day.”
Should the Scots emerge victorious they will likely face the Chinese No.4 seeds Chen and Yi and Alex added: “We’ve never had the pleasure of playing them before, so that will be a tough one but there are very few easy ones out there now.
“What is important is to get that opening win and then take it from there.”
Looking back at his partnership’s previous two tournaments Alex admitted there is a lingering sense of what might have been.
Turning his attention to last week’s campaign at the Indian Open (L 1ST round v Supak Jomkoh & Kittinupong Kedren 21-16, 19-21, 16-21) he said: “I think myself; Adam and Bob (Blair, coach) were all happy with our level in India. What was disappointing was that we were up 15-11 in the third set and perhaps let one or two points slip.
“But to be fair they played some exceptional points at the end which they were forced into doing, so they really went for their best and they produced it and that was quite tough to take as I felt it was ours to win.
“But we still played extremely well and we are quite confident we will be fine this week if we can reproduce that level.”
Alex continued: “The previous week at the (Petronas) Malaysia Open we beat the Popovs (24-22, 17-21, 21-17) and it was a bit of a strange one as we didn’t play well against them having played them quite a few times in the last year.
“In part that was down to the conditions being extremely slow but it was won by us at the end of the third set similarly to what happened to us with the Thais last week.
“We won five or six points from the first three shots in the third set which was perfect as we got it when it mattered.
“In the second round we lost to Takuro Hoki & Yugo Koboyashi (No7 seeds, 13-21, 11-21) and we had also played the Japanese a few times now but for whatever reason the two days that had gone between the matches saw the conditions completely changed and it was extremely fast and they dealt with them better than us.
“So it was hard to adjust and we just didn’t do it well enough to even challenge them.”
Taking an overview of this early New Year Far East swing Alex believes that with both him and Adam having been bedevilled by injuries at the end of 2023 there is much to be cheerful about:
“When you consider that Adam and I hadn’t played since the start of November competitively and that our training has been disrupted by injuries to both of us, given that, well I’m quite excited with where we are.
“Injuries are part of the sport but we missed the two tournaments in China and Japan due to my hip issue which is slightly ongoing but is being managed now.
“So overall I would like to say it’s good in terms of how we have bounced back and we need to keep building momentum now.”
Over in the Women’s Singles Kirsty Gilmour will face Zhang Yi Man of China.
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