Around this time last year the badminton world sat in awe of the young Viktor Axelsen after he brushed aside on opponent after another on his way to his first ever senior international final. Now the Dane is back in familiar territory as he has found himself once again in the final of the Swedish International, and this time with a much less formidable opponent, an opponent who Axelsen easily disposed of earlier this fall. The last time Pablo Abian played Viktor he lost 21-10, 21-7. Hopefully for the crowd this time around will be a much closer match. Abian has played well this week with a big win over the tall Dutch shuttler Eric Pang in three exceedingly close games 21-19, 19-21, 21-18. Axelsen’s semi-final was less hostile as he defeated Kestutis Navickas 21-13, 21-14.
The women’s final should hold much less drama and excitement as both finalists hail from Japan. Nevertheless respect is owed to both players who were required to overcome formidable opponents on their way to this stage. Qualifier Mayu Sekiya defeated the top seed Judith Meulendijks in the second round, as well as third seed Susan Egelstaff to earn her finals spot. Her compatriot Kaori Imebeppu defeated the female phenom Carolina Marin in her semi-final match 19-21, 21-16, 21-8 to earn her final spot.
In the mens doubles it appears that Denmark has much talent ready and waiting to fill the places of their top pairs should they retire anytime soon. With Axelsen shining in the mens singles it looks like yet another young Dane is showing promise as Rasmus Fladberg and his partner Kim Astrup Sorensen have made their way into the finals after defeating Andi Hartono Tandaputra and Gert Kunka 21-18, 21-16. On a side note Fladberg is the son of previous doubles world champion Steen Fladberg. They will now face off against Lukasz Moren and Wojciech Szkudlarczyk who made their way through by defeating another Danish pair, Mats Bue and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-15, 11-21, 22-20.
In the womens doubles we have the only top seed to survive through to finals day as Japans Rie Eto and Yu Wakita have gone on relatively unchallenged thus far. They won relatively comfortably against Maria Helsbol and Anne Skelbaek 21-11, 21-13 in their semi-final match. They will now place another Danish pair Line Damkjaer Kruse and Maria Ropke who defeated second seeds Heather Olver and Mariana Agathangelou due to a withdrawal part way through the match.
Heather Olver does however have an opportunity to make up for her disappointment in the doubles as she has found herself in the mixed final alongside partner Robin Middleton. Olver and Middleton defeated Imam Sodikin Irawan and Cecilia Bjuner in three games 15-21, 21-12, 21-10. Their opponents will be the Dutch pair Dave Khodabux and Samantha Barning. Khodabux and Barning defeated Ireland’s Sam and Chloe Magee 21-16, 21-18.
After a quiet last few weeks the EBU circuit is back in action again this week in Stockholm for the Swedish International 2011. In both the men’s and women’s singles events the Dutch have taken the top spots with Eric Pang and Judith Meulendijks sitting atop their respective draws.
Pang starts off his men’s singles campaign with a tough first round encounter against Ukrainian Dmytro Zavadsky who is known to be a scrappy contender. Seeded second here is Lithuanian Kestutis Navickas who will likely face off against Denmark’s Peter Mikkelsen in the second round. Mikkelsen surprisingly had to qualify, but was promoted to the main draw. Other notables in the men’s draw include Pablo Abian of Spain, Ville Lang of Finland and of course all eyes will be on the young Danish world junior champion, Viktor Axelsen. This time last year Axelsen gained attention by making it to the finals and upsetting numerous strong opponents on his way.
Meulendijks first major challenge will likely come in the quarter-finals against Denmark’s Karina Jorgensen who is fifth seeded. Their half of the draw also holds Scotland’s Susan Egelstaff who appears to be a strong favourite to come through to the semi-finals stage. The second seed Larisa Griga has an especially difficult starting match as she faces off against Spanish phenom Carolina Marin, a match which from the looks of things should be the toughest match on that half of the draw.
The men’s doubles draw lacks the usual punch expected in an EBU event with few big names present. The top seeds are France’s Baptiste Careme and Sylvain Grosjean, while the second seeds are Russia’s Vitalij Durkin and Alexander Nikolaenko. Of note is the large contingent of French players in the doubles draw as four pairs are present.
Japan look to be the favourites in the womens doubles with Rie Eto and Yu Wakita in the top seeded position, however England’s Heather Olver and Marian Agathangelou will be trying to upset the Japanese pair. Japan also has another couple of pairs lurking unseeded in the draws, as does Denmark, so don’t be surprised to see a couple of upsets in the earlier rounds.
Finally in the mixed doubles it’s the Ukrainian pair of Valerly Atrashchenkov and Elena Prus taking the top spot while Baptiste Careme and Laura Choinet are second seeds. England’s Robin Middleton and Heather Olver are unseeded, and no doubt a threat regardless of their lack of seeding. Ireland’s Sam and Chloe Magee are also strong threats in the fourth seed position.
For full draws and ongoing results be sure to check back here again tomorrow, and also have a look at the draw page below:
Another two match day awaited the remaining players on Day 2, for some it could potentially mean four matches over two events. Chloe Magee fantastic win over the top seeded Elizabeth Cann put her through to the semi finals, only to be defeated by Karina Jorgensen in a tame two game match. The mixed doubles was a similar story for Magee, as her and partner Sam Magee defeated the English pairing of Middleton and Olver in the quarter finals but lost out to the Danish pair of Skovgaard and Andersen in a two game defeat leaving Ireland with no representatives on finals day.
The men’s singles final sees the top seeded Hans-Kristian Vittinghus take on 8th seeded Pablo Abian of Spain. Vittinghus won his all-Danish quarter final against Peter Mikkelsen and then went out to defeat the 3rd seeded Frenchman, Matthieu Lo Ping Ying to book his place in tomorrow’s final. Abian defeated the 4th Rune Ulsing in his quarter final match then defeated the 7th seeded Ville Lang in two games to reach the final. Karina Jorgensen’s opponent in the women’s singles final is the 2nd seeded Susan Egelstaff of Scotland after wins over Ragna Ingolfsdottir of Iceland in the quarter finals and then a tight two game victory over Spain’s Carolina Marin.
The men’s doubles final is an all-English affair, with two unseeded pairs making the final. Adcock and Ellis defeated two Danish pairs, including the 3rd seeded Elbjorn and Skovgaard in the semi finals whilst the other pair of Clark and Middleton defeated the German pair of Heinz and Schulz in the last 8 before beating the 2nd seeded Careme and Grosjean to reach tomorrow’s final.
The women’s doubles final sees the top two seeds meeting, with top seeds Agathangelou and Olver taking on the Danish 2nd seeds Heisbol and Skelbaek. The English pair were taken to three games in their quarter final against Fangel and Sorensen before winning their semi final in convincing fashion to reach the final. Heisbol and Skelbaek dropped their first game of the week in their semi final over Lefel and Luttmann but bounced back to take the next two games. Chris Adcock reached his second final this week with partner Imogen Bankier and the pair look for their second title in three weeks after winning the Scottish Open late last month, the pair take on the Danish pair of Skovgaard and Andersen in the final.
Two matches on the first day is always tough but is almost a mainstay of the EBU circuit, it is often a day that determines the winner with the players who come through the opening two rounds in the quickest possible time on court. Only three of the 8 remaining players in the men’s singles won in two straight games for both matches and just two in the women’s singles.
Irish hopes ended in the men’s singles at the second round, with 2nd seeded Scott Evans losing out to Gabriel Ulldahl in a tame two game defeat that was on court just 30 minutes. Top seeded Hans-Kristian Vittinghus has struggled through his opening two matches with both matches going to three games, he takes on Peter Mikkelsen in an all-Danish quarter final who has been impressive in his opening two rounds, winning both in two games. 7th seeded Spainard Pablo Abian is another player who impressed on the opening day, winning both his matches in two games and will take on the 4th seeded Dane, Rune Ulsing for place in the last 4. Scottish Open runner-up Ville Lang has also breezed through into the last 8 and takes on the Swede Ulldahl in his quarter final match.
7 seeds remain of the 8 in the women’s singles, with European junior champion Carolina Marin making up the quarter final lineup. Marin defeated the 7th seed Prutsch in her opening round and another victory against French qualifier Marie Maunoury sees her into the last 8 against Karin Schnaase of Germany. The top 2 seeds also battled through to the last 8, Elizabeth Cann struggled in her opening round match before finding form in her two game win over Nanna Brosolat Jensen in her second round match whilst 2nd seeded Susan Egelstaff defeated last weeks winner Anita Raj Kaur in three games in her opening round before beating Perrine Lebuhanic to set up her quarter final with Ragna Ingolfsdottir of Iceland. Chloe Magee of Ireland is also through to the last 8 after two victories and takes on the top seeded Cann in the quarter finals.
Top seeded French pair Constantin and Vincent crashed out at the second round in the men’s doubles, losing to Denmark’s Bue and Rasmussen who will play the unseeded Adcock and Ellis of England in the last 8. The 2nd seeded French pair of Careme and Grosjean did come through the opening day and face their own Danish opponents in the quarter finals in Mork and Winther. The pair to look out for in the event though is the English pair of Landridge and Clark who have breezed into the last 8. Clark is not in Hong Kong playing with usual partner Nathan Robertson and this new pairing has the potential to go all the way this week.
The women’s doubles has been marred with a mass of withdrawals but the top seeded Agathangelou and Olver are safely into the last 8 with second seeds Heisbol and Skelbaek also through. The 3rd seeded Belgian pair of Annys and Corvilain crashed out in the second round to the French pair of Lefel and Luttman. The 4th seeded St Jacques and Lavoie are also into the last 8 after a win over Latvian pair of Pope and Sefere.
Scottish Open winners Adcock and Bankier’s excellent run continued as they defeated the top seeded Gao and Ng in their second round match to progress to the last 8. There has been little problems for the other 3 seeds to date, but the two Magee’s from Ireland face a tough task in their quarterfinal taking on Olver and Middleton for a place in the last 4. Croatian 4th seeded Durkinjak and Poznanovic have also been impressed as they have reached the last 8 with dropping a game.