Down four match points in the second game of his second round match, the odds on Danish shuttler Hans-Kristian Vittinghus recovering wouldn’t have been particularly good. Vittinghus was mixing segments of attacking net play with with error-prone periods. Yet, with nothing to lose, he attacked again and managed to force a decider.
He won 18-21, 23-21, 21-13, even as his opponent Dionysius Rumbaka of Indonesia appeared to pull a thigh muscle in the third game.
“At four match points down, I really shouldn’t have won. I was making a lot of errors and the chance of me putting 4 clean points together wasn’t very good. But I kept believing in myself. It isn’t the biggest comeback I have ever made,” Vittinghus says. “During a club game in Denmark, I was matchpoint-13 down but I won. At the All England Championships, I won my first round after being two match-points down. I kept telling myself it was possible to come back here as well. I have lost a few close matches but this year has been better.”
This wasn’t the only piece of fortune going Vittinghus’ way this tournament. In the first round, against a higher-ranked opponent in Japan’s Kento Momota, Vittinghus dropped his racquet in the middle of a rally. As luck would have it, he grabbed it with his left hand — his wrong hand — and eventually won the point he now describes as — “one of the most unbelievable points of my career”.
To ensure it wouldn’t later be dismissed as a tall tale, he uploaded the footage on YouTube (http://goo.gl/BzqF3w). The 45-second-long clip has already garnered over 10000 views in one day. “I don’t know what it is that has brought me luck. I don’t have a lot of superstitions. I only have one habit and that is to take one step in all four directions before stepping on court. Once I do that, I feel I am ready,” he says.
But Vittinghus’ luck hasn’t extended off the courts. “I don’t bet a lot, but yesterday, I put some money on the result of the PSG Champions League game. I got the winning team correctly but I wasn’t able to guess the number of corners. I ended up losing money,” he says.
“I’m not a lucky person in general,” he adds. “I lost my father to cancer a year and a half ago. I have had a few injuries as well.” The most serious one was back in 2008, when Vittinghus was just beginning to cement a place in the Danish national team. He was diagnosed with a PVNS (pigmented villonodular synovitis) tumour in his back and knee. The golf-ball sized tumours had to be surgically removed leaving a sixteen-centimetre scar on his knee. The operation and recuperation ruled him out for several months. “It was a really rare illness — doctors told me the chance of being diagnosed was just one in half-a-million,” he shrugs.
The win over Rumbaka took Vittinghus to the quarterfinals of the India Open where he now faces World No. 2 Chen Long. The two have played each other six times with, Long winning five, most recently in the quarterfinals of the 2014 All England Championships. The odds may once again be against him but Vittinghus is hopeful he can pull off an upset.
“I haven’t done well against Long, but I have been able to take him to three games a few times. Hopefully I can do well against him here,” he rounds off.