Hendra Setiawan one of the best Men’s doubles player in the past decade. Having won the Olympics in 2008, Asian Games (2010,2014) and World Championships (2007, 2013, 2015). On the court, Hendra is known for his quiet nature with a killing instinct. He has the ability to spot empty spots and create opportunities for his partner which made him an Olympic and 3 times World Champion.
Tactical Badminton would like to thank Hendra Setiawan, to have a chat with Coach Andrew and granting us this interview.
1. At what age did you start playing badminton?
I started playing at the age of 6. The biggest influence was my father. He was a coach at a Badminton club in my hometown, Pemalang (Central Java).
2. Was it your dream since you were a kid to become a professional player?
Nope, I never dreamt of becoming a professional player. Like all kids back then, many of us wanted to be a doctor, including me. But I was already actively playing badminton since young. I discovered my passion for the sport when I started to become a school champion.
3. When did you realize you are a top player? In a sense, you can take on any top players?
It was when I got selected in the national team. Around in the year 2004. In tournaments, I realized that I could give top players a good fight.
4. As a badminton player, what was your motivation at the start? Was it for money? For fame? Or simply be the best?
My main motivation was my strong desire to be the champion. That was the only thing in my mind. Money is second, as when you are champion the money will come. First thing you have to be a champion first.
5. Which year were you drafted in the national squad?
The Year of 2004.
6. Have you considered making a name in singles?
Yes, I did think of it but since I wasn’t doing so well in singles and kept loosing. I decided to give doubles a try. My results in doubles were better so I decided to go all out in doubles. I was around 18 years old when I switched to doubles (2001).
7. What’s the highest and lowest point of your career so far?
The highest would definitely be when I won the Olympics (Beijing, 2008). My lowest point was also at the Olympics. But at that time, I couldn’t manage to qualify because I was only short by only 10 points in my ranking (London, 2012).
8. Which player you admired or looked up to when you were younger?
In the beginning, I didn’t have anyone that I admire as I didn’t pay attention to. I was just having fun and picking up the sport. When I started training seriously at my club. It would be Tony Gunawan. I knew him in my Badminton club (Jaya Raya). He is very good at the back and front of the court and that makes him a complete player.
9. Who are the current top men’s doubles pairs who will be dominating the badminton world? And why?
Kevin Sanjaya and Gideon Markus Fernaldi are the best at the moment. However, there are few strong double players from China, especially Zhang Nan. He is very consistent and experienced.
10. As a badminton player losing is part of the game. How do you bounce back from a defeat? Especially the ones you really want to win.
It’s not an easy experience. Of course, I will feel down in morale. For me, I take some time off to do other activities (like taking a holiday for 2 or 3 days), so that I can come back to training with a better state of mind.
11. Before a match, what do you normally do to prepare yourself?
I would arrive at the match venue around 1 and a half hour earlier to warm up. In my warm up, I do a lot stretching, light jogging and strokes with my partner. During important and pressured matches, I would listen to music and that helps me to relax my mind and warm up even more.
12. Do you always study your opponents’ game on tapes or at the stadium?
Yes. Studying the opponent’s game is a must. I always do that by myself. I always make it a point to watch at least one set of my opponent’s games especially before I faced them.
13. In your playing career who do you regard as your toughest opponent?
There are many tough opponents throughout my careers such as Cai Yun/Fu Hai Feng, Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong, and Lee Yong Dae/Jung Jae Sung. If I have said the pair I do not like to play against with, it’ll be Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong. They are a complete pair. Very good in their attack and defense and that makes it tough to play against them.
14. Do you have injuries? How do you manage your injuries?
I used to have a knee injury when I was not in the national team in 2010. I went to see a doctor and focused on my rehabilitation process that’s how I managed my injuries. At that time when I was injured, I still resumed my training and continued to compete. It took me almost a year to recover from my knee injury. If I would have rested I would recover faster.
15. Are the specs of the racket important to you? What’s your favorite type of racket? String tension?
Yes, I personally prefer light headed rackets. My usual racket tension is 30lbs. And 0.70mm gauge strings.
16. What’s your advice for kids who wants to become a World and Olympic Champion like you? What do they need to do from the start?
Hard work is a must. Discipline is also very important, but not only in training. You have to be disciplined not only in training aspects but also in terms of getting enough rest to recover for training, and control your diet and nutrition as well. Avoid deep fried food.
17. You have been playing for a long time. What’s the motivation for you to keep on playing? What are your goals?
Hopefully, I still can compete in the upcoming Asian Games this year. I would love to play at the Olympics 2020. It all depends on the Indonesia National Federation (PBSI) and the coaches. At the moment, it’s one step at a time.
18. When do you plan to retire? And what’s your plan after retiring? Is coaching on your mind?
At the moment, I still don’t know yet. I’m focusing on the present now. Still not thinking of my future plan for now.
19. At 34 of age. Do you still train every day? How do you keep with the younger players?
Yes, I still do train every day. I just focus on giving my best in training and tournaments. Having the discipline to take care of my body, diet, sleeping schedule and keeping in shape at this age is
Important o keep up with younger players. I can’t be too fat, as it will be a problem for me.
20. What is your mindset whenever you are training? Somedays are not so good. How do you stay motivated?
I focus on giving my 100% in training as much as I possibly can. As long as I give my maximum effort, there are no bad days in training. For example, if I can do 5 shots, it will be my all-out effort.
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