A seasoned campaigner who has played the best both past and present, Chou Tien-chen believes legends of the game such as Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan posed a different threat compared to the current generation.
“It’s a different generation, different playing style altogether. To be amongst the best now, you need to have more speed, more strength. The physical demands are high.
“Playing against Chong Wei and Lin Dan required mental strength, but also speed. There is quite the difference between that generation and now,” Chou told Stadium Astro.
The Chinese Taipei stalwart played both Lee and Lin Dan a total of 17 times combined, without much success.
He failed to beat Lee on seven occasions, and won three times against Lin Dan in nine meetings.
Still only 32, Chou is going strong as one of the top contenders in the men’s singles as world number four.
He is also the star attraction at the ongoing Malaysia Purple League, featuring for Ampang Jaya Badminton Club whom he helped reach the semi-finals.
Chou is certainly enjoying his time playing in this competition format made up of 11 points best of five games.
“Playing in this 11 point format, you don’t have much time to warm up on court. It’s something different for me, to adapt to the pace of the game.
“I’m always looking to try new things to be a better player,” he added.
Chou is also one of the few shuttlers on the BWF World Tour circuit who is without a coach on purpose.
Sitting on the sidelines during his matches is his physical therapist Victoria Kao, who has been with him since 2019.
Chou believes he has benefited from this, as he is not regimented in terms of his training and routine.
“These days I train with my team-mates, but also in overseas attachment stints like this. It’s a different experience which is good for me. I get to see how other coaches train their players which is a different style.
“If it’s just one coach, you will improve gradually but it will take many conversations to get there. You just have to keep working hard in training.
“The great thing is, if it doesn’t work I can change it right away,” he said.
Despite not having a dedicated coach, he clinched the Taipei Open title and finished second at the Japan Open this year.