The new EBU season begins once more in Antwerp with the Belgian International, with local interest in many of the events this week. For some, it will be their first competition of the season but for most of the seeds it will be a return to European soil after their World Championship excursion.
The Men’s singles is headed by England’s Carl Baxter, with Stephan Wojcikiewicz seeded 6th for the event also. Top seeded Baxter will play Austrian Michael Lahnsteiner in Round 1, with second seeded Marc Zweibler playing Rune Massing of Holland in the opening round.
The Women’s Singles has several players that progressed to the last 32 in the World Championships, led by top seed Ella Diehl from Russia. Diehl will play a qualifier in Round 1. Second seeded Yao Jie of Holland also progressed to the second round in India; she plays Croatian Andrea Zvorc in Round 1 in Belgium.
Third seed Larisa Griga lost to World Champion Lu Lan in Round 1 in India, she will play a qualifier in Round 1, Susan Egelstaff lost to Wang Yihan in Round 2 at the World Championships, and she starts her campaign in Belgium against Claudia Mayer of Austria.
Another one to watch in the ladies draw is 7th seeded Lianne Tan, winner of th Junior event in February and also reaching the last 32 of the World Championships at just 18 years old.
The big local hopes is in the Womens Doubles, with Steffi Annys and Severine Corvilain being seeded 1 for the event, They have a first round bye however the pair come into the event failing to win a match since the Polish Open in March.
Wouter Claes is seeded 3 for the Mens Doubles with Frederic Mawet and seeded 2 for the Mixed with Natalie Deschamps. He comes into the event after losing in both events in India in the opening round in 3 sets.
The Belgian International Open begins on Thursday, September 3.
No, this isn’t the “All England Final”, but we have an all Englishman final. Tomorrow Carl Baxter and Rajiv Ouseph will have a rematch from the English National Championship final when they meet in the final of the Canadian International Badminton Championship.
Baxter, formally playing from Canada, now represents England, and today he defeated Canada’s Stephan Wojcikiewicz 21-13, 27-25. Baxter and Steph used to train together at the RA Center in Ottawa, and their other former training partner Andrew Dabeka lost in the quarter finals to Rajiv Ouseph. In the semi-finals Rajiv beat Canada’s David Snider 21-19, 21-15. David upset France’s top player Brice Leverdez 21-11, 13-21, 23-21 to book his spot in the semis.
My money is on Baxter for tomorrow. While he is unlikely to beat Ouseph most of the time, I think Baxter will be the crowd favourite tomorrow, and that should help lift his level of play just enough to take out Ouseph.
The draws for the Yonex All England Open Super Series 2009 have been released and all I can say is the Super Series events are DEEP! Seriously, so much depth. Even the qualifications are an incredible field of players. Both Carl Baxter and Rajiv Ouseph are in the qualifiers and they were the two finalists at this year’s English National Championships.
Most of the top players are in attendance this year. First seed is Lee Chong Wei and second seed is Lin Dan, all is well in the world, although I won’t be surprised if Lee Chong Wei is unseated as the world’s top player soon. What I would LOVE to see at this event is Taufik Hidayat win the title. This is the only big title that Taufik has yet to win, and you know what, he has not done much over the past few months, or even the last couple of years, but I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Taufik will win this event. I bet he has been putting some extra focus on this event, he knows how to peak for the big events, and this is it for his career now. Win this title and he can make a legitimate claim as one of the most accomplished players ever.
Peter Gade is of course a guy to watch out for as per usual, especially with strong performances lately. I will say though that every few years we see a sudden shift in the top players, and I don’t think that’s happened for a while. Lee Chong Wei, Lin Dan, Peter Gade and Taufik have been the top guys for a while now, granted they have shifted around a bit, but certainly they are the names that really stick out when I think about men’s singles. I’m feeling like we’re going to start seeing some shifts soon, maybe here? Doubtful, but you never know ; )
Yonex All England Open Super Series 2009 Draws