Most of the world’s best are still recovering from the world championships, however the Vietnam Open managed to lure the national hero in Tien Minh Nguyen back to win the title he claimed in 2009.
Nguyen claimed the men’s singles title without the loss of a game in any of his 6 matches and defeated the second seeded Sho Sasaki whose route to the final was much more difficult than Nguyen but the Vietnamese number 1 was too strong and claimed the title 21-13, 21-17 in 40 minutes.
Unseeded Fu Mingtian claimed the women’s singles title with a three game victory over another unseeded player, Kaori Imabeppu who defeated her seeded team-mate Sayaka Sato in the second round on route to the final. The 67 minute match was eventually won by Singapore’s Fu Mingtian, winning 21-18, 16-21, 21-8.
Indonesia claimed both level doubles titles, with 5th seeded Pratama and Saputra taking the men’s doubles title with a three game victory over the unseeded Chrisnata and Triyachart of Singapore. Agustin and Maheswari were also seeded 5th this week and also defeated a Singapore pair in the final, defeating Sari and Yao who were seeded second this week in two tight games, taking 60 minutes to complete.
Russia claimed the mixed doubles title as Vislova and Durkin, seeded 3rd defeated the Korean pair of Chung and Yoo in the most one-sided of the finals, with the Russian pair winning 21-16, 21-13 in 35 minutes.
The 2011 championships have heralded few shocks to this date, with several of the top nations resting their top players until the knockout stages and rotating their squad players around to give them some valuable experience at this level.
Denmark comfortably won their group even without Peter Gade and Tine Baun stepping on court in their three wins, only Karina Jorgensen’s loss to Kristina Ludikova of the Czech Republic stopped the Dane’s winning all 15 of their matches in the group stage. The Czech secured second place in the group, winning the other two matches against Israel and Italy comfortably.
Germany won Group 2 without playing their two stars in Juliane Schenk and Marc Zwiebler in all the group matches but still progressed with a perfect record, wrapping up a 5-0 win over Latvia in under 100 minutes of play. Marc Zwiebler played Raul Must in the match over Estonia and came through in three games whilst Juliane Schenk had little trouble against Belgium’s Lianne Tan, winning the match up in two games. The gulf in class between the four nations was clear as every match in the group ended in a 5-0 or 4-1 victory.
England progressed as group winners but question marks loom over their women singles performances as they lost two of the three matches in the group stage. Those were the only two matches that England lost in their group and will have to addressed before the knockout stage. Ireland finished second in the group after defeating Austria 3-2 in their match in the early part of the group.
Russia qualified as group winners with ease, winning 14 of their 15 matches and dropping just a single game in their 14 victories. Russia have been experimenting with new partnerships in their doubles but the usual partnerships of Durkin/Nikolaenko and Vislova/Sorokina would be in place for quarter final match.
The Dutch made qualification for the last 8 as hard as possible in front of their home fans, after a 4-1 win over Iceland they almost failed to qualify and struggled to defeat Lithuania and Switzerland after trailing 2-1 in both matches. They will have to be at their very best tomorrow against Russia to progress any further with Switzerland being within one match of knocking them out at the group stages
France and Scotland went into the final match with equal records, winning 9 and losing 1 match. Both nations secured easy victories over Slovakia and Spain but faced their toughest match to date against one another. Scotland took a 2-1 lead after wins in the mixed doubles and with Susan Egelstaff’s win in the singles but the French rallied back to take the two doubles matchup and the match 3-2 to secure top spot in Group 6 and will play Germany in the last 8.
Bulgaria pulled out of the biggest shock of the event to date in topping group 7 ahead of the favourites in the group Ukraine. The two played in the final group match to determine top spot and it went down to the final rubber in the match with the score tied 2-2. the Bulgarian pairing of Nedelcheva and Popstoykova defeated Prus and Kobecva impressively in two games to set up a quarter final clash against England.
Poland progressed comfortably into the last 8 with three victories in their group featuring Belarus, Portugal and Croatia. They haven’t needed the services of top mens singles player Przemyslaw Wacha to date and have rarely been troubled in their group matches, their 3-2 win over Croatia was much more comfortable than first look suggests, they were 3-0 up in the match before losing the men’s doubles and retired their women’s doubles pairing. However, they will face their toughest test to date against the top seeded Danes in the last 8.
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: