India Open: Firm resolve, clear goal for Kim Astrup, Anders Rasmussen

The Danish duo hope to break into the top-four in men’s doubles’ rankings, and qualify for the Olympics in 2020.

The par

Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, the World No. 9 pair in men’s doubles, hope to break into the top-four in the rankings with a sustained run together.

Kim and Anders bagged the biggest title of their career at the China Open in 2018, and achieved a career-best ranking of six later that year. The two are here for ongoing India Open.

“We want to stay inside the top eight and take it step by step to reach the top four. But we have to be 100 per cent throughout the year to reach our goal and we hope to qualify for Olympics also,” Kim told PTI.

The Olympic qualification period starts on April 29, 2019. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) ranking on April 30, 2020, is the cut-off point for allocation of spots for the Tokyo Games.

Taking a toll

Commenting on the importance of scheduling in the Olympic qualification year, Anders said: “It takes a toll on you, as you are away from families. In Denmark, we don’t have that many periods where we can train hard. We didn’t perform well in All England and had just two weeks to prepare for this tournament. So you don’t have time to take, say, one month’s break now unless you want to skip some tournaments. As the ranking is important, everybody is playing almost everything, so you have to invest in playing a lot of tournaments to keep up and move forward.”

However, Anders clarified he didn’t want to worry about the Olympics as it is still more than a year away.

“If we are No. 5 or No. 8 in the world doesn’t make a big difference. We would like to reach the top four but Olympics is still one-and-a-half years away and there are so many good players and you have to focus on the moment,” he said.

He added: “But we also don’t want to go to Olympics at No. 16. We have to be competitive and have fun playing. Right now there are 10 men’s doubles pairs who can win each tournament and not only one as we have seen in All England, so [we wish to] just focus on ourselves and move forward.”

The Danish pair had a good start to the new season, reaching the semifinals in Indonesia, and the quarterfinals in Malaysia. At the All England Championship, however, they were knocked out in the second round. “We had a target of performing at All England but we couldn’t do well. There are very good men’s doubles pairs at the moment. So, we hope to win some good matches in this three weeks and take home a title,” Anders said.

‘Growing badminton country’

At the Swiss Open, the duo had suffered a loss in straight games to India’s Pranaav Jerry Chopra and Chirag Shetty in the first round. Kim said they had a lot of respect for the Indian pairs in the circuit.

“We know that Chirag [Shetty] is a good men’s doubles player and [Pranaav Jerry Chopra] is a good mixed doubles player but we didn’t expect to loss in straight games. They are good players. India is a growing badminton country, not only in singles but also in doubles. You have Chirag and [Satwiksairaj Rankireddy] and Manu [Attri] and [B. Sumeeth Reddy], they are both very good men’s doubles players and we have a lot of respect for them.”