The first round of the Austrian International began this afternoon, after a morning of qualification to determine the final players entered into the main draw. The mixed doubles was the first on court, and it didn’t take long to lose one of the seeds, Claes and Descamps of Belgium (seeded 4). The remaining 7 seeds safely progressed into round 2. The Belgians had reason to celebrate soon after, with Lianne Tan taking out the 6th seeded Jeanine Cicognini of Switzerland in the opening round of the women’s singles. The other 7 seeds safely progressing into tomorrow’s second round.
The men’s singles was less than clear-cut, with two seeds falling in the opening round and several other seeds being taken the full distance. Anand Pawar survived a very tight match with Pavel Florian of the Czech Republic, winning the third game 26-24. For other seeds, their chances of progressing didn’t last until a 3rd game, with 4th seeded Christian Lind Thomsen crashing out to Petr Koukal of the Czech Republic 21-19, 21-11. At the same time, 7th seeded Dmytro Zavadsky crashed out to unseeded Scottish player Kieran Merrilees. The Scot winning 21-17, 15-21, 21-13 to progress into round 2.
The men’s doubles saw top seeded local pair of Koch and Zauner fall to unseeded Russian duo of Ashmarin and Ivanov. Tomorrow sees the compeititon topple in size, with an all-Russian affair in the women’s singles as Tatjana Bibik playing Anastasia Prokopenko who both won their singles in the European Team Final over Denmark.
Kieran Merrilees reward for beating 7th seeded Zavadsky is a match against Yuhan Tan of Belgium; as for Petr Koukal he plays Simon Maunoury of France.
There was some local interest in the finals of the Belgian Open today in the mixed doubles with Wouter Claes and Natalie Descamps making the final against Heather Olver and Marcus Ellis of England. The seeds had toppled in this tournament in all events, leaving only one top seed playing on finals day.
First on court with the women’s doubles, with Emma Mason making her comeback from a serious achilles injury reaching the final with her English partner Samantha Ward against Japanese pair Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi. They shared the opening two sets before the Japanese pair proved to be too strong in the third to take the match 21-13.
Marcus Ellis and Peter Mills played against the only top seed left in any draw, Ruud Bosch and Koen Ridder of Holland. The top seeds took the opening set 30-28, with both couples having five chances apiece to win the first set and then wrapped up the second 21-12 to claim the title.
The Men’s Singles provided the other seed against seed encounter on the last day, with German Marc Zweibler seeded second against seventh seeded Christian Lind Thomsen of Denmark. The match was a tale of three sets, with Zweibler dominating the opening set, before the Dane levelled the match in equally impressive fashion. The match turned at 3-3 in the deciding set, with Zweibler going on a 9-point run which was too big a gap for Lind Thomsen to catch back up.
Misaki Matsutomo played in her second final of the day against second seeded Yao Jie of Holland in the Women’s Singles. Both players took one of the two opening sets but 21 points to 14. The third set was a similar affair to the Men’s final, with Matsutomo leading 10-6 the dutch second seed won 8 consecutive points to turn the match in her favour, eventually winning 21-16 in the third.
The big local hope was in the Mixed Doubles, with second seeds Claes and Descamps against Heather Olver and Marcus Ellis, playing in his second final fo the day. The first set was dominated by the English duo, with the Belgians never having a lead in the opening set, losing it 21-9. The second set was a far more competitive affair at the start of the set, before the English couple stretched out another lead. Claes and Descamps managed to save the match at 20-17 down to make it 20-20. They manufactured a game point at 23-22, before losing the next three points to the unseeded English couple.
The next challenge event in the EBU calendar is in Bulgaria on October 1-4.
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.