Monday, Oct 20, 2014

Lucky Vittinghus defies the odds

Written by Jonathan Selvaraj | New Delhi | Posted: April 4, 2014 3:51 am | Updated: April 4, 2014 3:32 pm

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.

Long odds

The win over Rumbaka took Vittinghus to the quarterfinals of the India Open where he now continued…

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