COVID Turns Nguyen Match-Savvy

COVID Turns Nguyen Match-Savvy

Nhat Nguyen has found out the hard way what COVID-19 can do to an athlete after contracting the coronavirus along with his whole family in January.

The 20-year-old Irishman of Vietnamese origin has shown some impressive performances this year but insists he is yet to approach full fitness as a result of his illness.

“I’m still struggling a little bit. I haven’t been myself since I returned to training after I had Covid-19,” he told Irish media recently.

“I’m getting tired quickly and my energy levels aren’t there. I’ve had countless blood tests and appointments with doctors and I have a couple more to check my blood.

“They are not at normal levels, but I don’t know what’s wrong. It’s something that makes me feel a lot more tired. But I’m getting better slowly so that’s a good sign.”

Not being in peak condition means Nguyen has had to adjust the way he plays.

Nguyen wears a look of disbelief after stunning Kidambi.

“I relied a lot on speed and endurance to dictate play. But now I have to be more energy efficient and smarter. I can’t be going out too fast. I actually play longer rallies but I was only going at 50 or 60 per cent,” added Nguyen, who at 15 became the youngest Irish Open winner.

“Being able to change the way I play is one of the good things about my style. If I was in better shape (at the YONEX All England Open 2021), I could have done even better.”

In Birmingham last month, Nguyen stunned 13th seed Kidambi Srikanth in the opening round before losing to Dutchman Mark Caljouw in the following match.

Nguyen remains on course for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games – he currently sits comfortably 25th on the Race to Tokyo standings.

The Dubliner, who migrated to his adopted nation as a six-year-old with parents Lai and Thuy and older sister Thammy, will feature at the European Championships at the end of this month (27 April-May 2) in Kiev.

“I want to get myself back into (physical) shape again. I definitely feel my game is there but I need to be better physically,” said the former Under-17 European champion.

“I’ll be looking for better results at the Europeans.”