It’s here! Our final tournament of 2017 and the one that we’ve been looking forward to for months. It’s the Superseries Final in Dubai and we couldn’t be more excited for the event which starts on 13th December.
When you think of a badminton tournament, you probably wouldn’t automatically think of glitz and glamour, but that’s everything this Dubai tournament is. They really know how to put on a show. To set the scene….this is where the top 8 teams in the world qualify for effectively the end of year finals that bring the curtain down on the 2017 season. It’s the pinnacle of our schedule this year and is very much the one that everyone wants to win. And not just because there’s an incredible prize fund of US$1m making it the richest badminton tournament in the world. It’s the prestige, the heritage and the glamour.
Honestly, it’s like for a week we’re transported into a different world. I can probably only compare it to living like a tennis player during a Grand Slam, or a footballer during the World Cup. The tournament goes out of their way to make us feel very special and to give us a level of luxury that we’re just not used to for the rest of the year. We get given chauffeur driven cars, the opportunity to go out on amazing trips, get to hang out in a player’s lounge that is supremely better than any player lounge I’ve ever seen in my life, and don’t even get me started on the food. It’s amazing, but then you’d expect that when it’s courtesy of the chef from the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. And then of course there’s the live draw that we do from the hotel which is always a lot of fun, plus the gala dinner where we all get suited and booted, and get to let our hair down for a short time.
Pretty cool, right? And yet underpinning all of this glamour is the very real competition that always results in some hugely compelling matches. So we never let ourselves get too distracted with everything that’s going on around us. We absolutely enjoy it and make the most of it, but we know we have a job to do and that’s our priority.
We found out after China that we’d officially qualified for Dubai so that was welcome news, although it was always very much on the cards given the ranking points. We’ve since enjoyed some training at home in Milton Keynes, and we are so ready to compete in the last event. Because of the prestige of the event, it certainly gives us a boost and added motivation at a time of year when players are both physically and mentally exhausted. Competing all year round takes its toll, and when you know it’s your last event, you throw everything you have at it and give it one final push.
Obviously we’re also keen to regain the title we won back in 2015. Actually our history here over the last three years has been good having made at least the semi-finals since 2014. It would be incredible to finish the year with a great run and what makes this a little bit different to a regular tournament is the fact that we play in two groups. So even if we get off to a slow start, there’s every opportunity for us to claw our way through to the next rounds. We’re the only European representation here in the Mixed Doubles with the other teams coming from China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Japan.
As always, we don’t head to Dubai with any set expectations. We will give it our all and enjoy it. It’s important that we soak up these incredible moments as these are the memories that will stay with us forever.