They know they can prove their form on the big stage (Photo: Badminton Photo)
Nøhr and Thygesen: Ready to fight for world top 10
Date: 8/19/2018 2:13 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
The world took note when Niclas Nøhr and Sara Thygesen claimed the gold Mixed Doubles medal in the 2015 Baku European Games. It was a proud moment for them and Danish Badminton.

Each year since then, they have achieved a moment which indicates a step up in form. In 2016, they achieved a silver at the European Championships, narrowly losing in three games to compatriots and number two seeds Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen. In 2017, a quarter-final finish at the Danish Open, a World Super Series Premier event. 

For 2018, the promising pair who are now ranked 21st in the world were asked about their training and current form. Nøhr explains that

- I’m a part of the national centre, where the best badminton players practise together in a Danish city called Brondby. Most of the time my focus is on Mixed Doubles together with Sara. We are a small group with Mathias/Christinna, Fischer/Bøje and Mathias Bay-Smidt/Rikke Søby practising together. We have a busy and different tournament schedule to each other. It’s difficult to be a full team in practise, so we are switching a lot. 

Thygesen adds a comment about returning after the World Championships which took place in China.

-We just started up after a 2-week vacation, so the focus is to getting back to full speed. I’m not in top form - but getting there in time for the Spain Masters.

This year Nøhr and Thygesen have had quality performances in Mixed Doubles, namely the final appearance in the German Open. But they have also developed in Men’s and Women’s Doubles respectively. They were asked how they strike the balance between these disciplines. Nøhr states

- I think we have done well in Mixed Doubles this year with some semi-finals and finals, and a win in the Orleans Masters. My main focus is with Sara, but I keep fighting to get our Men’s Doubles improving as well. However, it is difficult to keep the focus 100% in both. But right now, I think we have a good set-up. 

Thygesen gives great insight into the key differences between the two disciplines.

- In Women’s Doubles it is more about the big court and being able to play long rallies, not making too many mistakes and being consistent. In Mixed Doubles its more about the first three shots, speed and keeping the initiative. It’s much faster and you need to have a good defence, so we practice that also.

When discussing the World Championships this year, both Nøhr and Thygesen were disappointed they were not able to play to the level they know they can in the Mixed Doubles. They lost to Indian pair Rankireddy and Ponnappa who ultimately reached the quarter-finals. 

Looking now to the future Thygesen says that

-We need to climb the world ranking by getting into more quarter-finals at the big tournaments and semi-finals and finals at level 5 and 6 tournaments. Of course, the Olympics is a big goal. It’s tough in the Mixed Doubles category, but also in Women’s Doubles, so we need to improve all the time.

Nøhr is looking to build upon their big achievement of 2017.

- We would like to retain and defend our quarter-final from last year’s Danish Open and show some good badminton on home soil again. We have shown that we can beat the pairs in top 10, so why not also achieve the same ranking. 

Nøhr adds

-As a long shot, the Olympics would be a dream to compete in, and that’s why we want to improve our skills next year and give us the best opportunities to book a ticket for the race to Tokyo! 

Lastly, we asked these two top professionals for some tips on remaining focused before a match. Something for our readers to take away from this interview and try out.  

Nøhr says

-I always try to get in the arena as close to 1 hour before if possible. I hate to be there too early. But sometimes, the matches are delayed, and when that happens, I listen to some music, maybe a little observation in the hall to get some information about the conditions - wind, shuttle speed and after the new service rules, how the umpires are doing in the specific tournament.

Thygesen emphasises the importance of getting warm too.

- I try to keep my body warm and ready. Especially when the match before you goes to a third game and you need to wait a bit longer. If I get cold my body takes too long to get warm again.

The coming years for this Mixed Doubles pair will be very exciting indeed. Ones to watch. 

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