The 27-year-old recently led his country to European team silver.
IF RAJIV Ouseph couldn’t stop smiling after leading his country to European team silver – the draw for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships would have helped.
Fresh from claiming his seventh straight singles title at the England National Badminton Championships, Ouseph carried his winning streak on to the continent.
After leading his squad to the final, the skipper held up his end of the deal, winning the opening match of the final, but England were ultimately beaten 3-1 by Denmark.
Nevertheless, it was the first time England has managed to finish second in the competition, having picked up bronze two years earlier.
To keep his hot-streak going, Ouseph will need to maintain his form and then some in Birmingham after landing a tough draw.
The Commonwealth Games silver medallist faces China’s seventh seed Du Pengyu in round one and should he progress top seed and two-time winner Lee Chong Wei is waiting in the same quarter of the draw.
It would be understandable if Ouseph’s sweet dreams about his silver had turned into sleepless nights, but the 27-year-old admits he expected nothing less.
“It’s obviously going to be very difficult,” he said.
“The men’s singles is probably the toughest event, it’s very Asian dominated and there are players there who are very strong but it’s an opportunity to do well in front of the home fans and generate an interest in badminton.
“They can help you if you’re struggling a bit, I’ve had a few instances where that has been the case and pulled me through so hopefully that can happen again.”
While the draw ensures Ouseph must hit the ground running in Birmingham to ensure his stay is not a brief one, he can at least take heart from his previous meeting with Pengyu.
Ouseph won their only match in straight games when the pair met in November and admits confidence is high.
“You know it is always a tough game whoever you get as it is the best players in the world,” he added.
“It is supposed to be a tough event so you have to expect that challenge and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s one you always look forward to it, it’s a big year and this is another important event.”
“I’ve been a bit up and down. I have some good performances in the last 12 months but I’ve also had some disappointing ones. If I can bring my level consistently higher then I’ll be in a good place.”
Tickets for the Yonex All England Open Badminton Championships at the NIA in Birmingham are available at www.allenglandbadminton.com or call the box office on 0844 444 9994.
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