Communication skill is just as vital as good technique to becoming a great player.
And rising Danish star Viktor Axelsen is perfectly aware of that.
So, it was no surprise to see the 20-year-old who is enjoying a breakthrough year after bagging a bronze medal in the world Championships in August, having a short conversation with five-time world champion Lin Dan in Mandarin at the ongoing Denmark Open here.
Axelsen explained on Wednesday that learning Mandarin was part of his plan to take his game up to the next level.
“It was Lin Dan’s birthday (on Tuesday) and I wanted to wish him happy birthday in Mandarin,” said world No. 11 Axelsen, who has one title to his name this year – the Swiss Open.
“One of the reasons I picked up Mandarin is that we travel to China a lot for competitions… it’s very useful to know the language.
“I’ve been learning it for eight months now and I speak to the Chinese players every now and then.
“I have a Chinese teacher in Copenhagen. I also signed up with an institute in Beijing and I have conversational lessons via Skype.
“I think the hardest part about learning Mandarin is that you need a lot of practice… a bit like badminton. It is a tough language… although I’m not very good yet, I’m getting better.
“Ultimately, I think learning the language will help me in my badminton career… although I’m not sure how yet,” added Axelsen.
Lin Dan sees huge potential in Axelsen and has tipped the Dane to be a major force in the future.
“Viktor has unlimited potential … he’s without doubt one of the brightest young players from Europe. He’s young and energetic and I hope he will go on to have a successful career like Peter (Gade-Christensen),” said Lin Dan on Wednesday.
Perhaps our Malaysian youngsters can learn a thing or two from Axelsen about attitude and commitment.