YONEX POLISH INTERNATIONAL – Abian and Russians stop Asia

Pablo Abian was the surprise winner of the Yonex Polish International Challenge this weekend when he beat top seed Joachim Persson en route to one of his best titles ever. […]


Pablo Abian was the surprise winner of the Yonex Polish this weekend when he beat top seed Joachim Persson en route to one of his best titles ever. He was joined by Russia’s men’s and mixed doubles to avoid an Asian clean sweep.

By Monika Plata and Janusz Rudzinski (www.badmintonzone.pl) for Badzine, live in Bialystok.

Poland was looking for success in this tournament with their home heroes participating. For the first time, the Polish International Championship was located in Bialystok, a town in the north-eastern region of Poland. Since 2009, Robert Mateusiak and Nadia Kostiuczyk represented the local club “Hubal Bialystok”, which explained why the home crowd of supporters was especially disappointed by the surprising defeat of this pair in the opening round. Gone were the best Polish hope for the title!

Polish Disappointement

In their first match of the tournament Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk had to contend with Wong Wai Hong and Chau Hoi Wah from Hong Kong. The Polish pair took the first game easily and wasted three match points in the second then lost the match 21-11, 21-23, 15-21.

“Our performance in the first game was better but the opponents at that time were making many simple errors,” explained Kostiuczyk. “This girl we had seen earlier and I knew she played well. I did not know the boy. At the very beginning we knew it would be hard. They are Asians…”

“It is a pity. We could have won in straight games. We played slowly and when we play slowly we have always problems. Now we have hard practicing before European Championships, so after this result theoretically we should not even be prepared fopolish2010-courtr that tournament. Nevertheless it is a shame because I know we could have won even being off form,” said Kostiuczyk with regret.

Also other big Polish favourites, Przemyslaw Wacha and Wang Linling, encountered difficulties from the beginning.  In the second round, Wacha defeated Ashton Chen Yongzhao (Singapore) 25-27, 22-20, 21-12 with both players expressing reservations about the performance of some of the line judges. In the quarter-final, Wacha played without his usual vigour and lost to Shuhei Hayasaki from Japan 18-21, 19-21.

Wang Linling went one step further than Wacha. The defending champion won a hard first round match versus Yuka Kusunose (Japan) 21-12, 16-21, 22-20, then beat Tatyana Bibik (Russia) and  in the quarter-final number one seed – Zhang Beiwen (Singapore) 22-20 21-18. In the semi-final the next Japanese, Kana Ito, was too strong for the Chinese living in Poland and Ito prevailed 21-15, 16-21, 21-14.

The misfortunes of the Polish mixed doubles favourites and Wacha were completed by the defeats of the last Polish representantitives in semi-finals in doubles. Adam Cwalina and Lukasz Moren were defeated by Russia’s Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov 9-21, 21-17, 21-16. Natalia Pocztowiak and Agnieszka Wojtkowska lost to Chan Tsz Ka and Chau Hoi Wah from Hong Kong 21-19, 21-10.

The absence of host players in the finals was hard to predict after the Polish successes of Mateusiak and Kostiuczyk in Super Series and the silver medal of the men’s team in the European Team Championships.

Spanish Striker

But in Bialystok the upsets were also painful for non-Polish players. In women’s singles not only did Zhang Beiwen depart with no medal but Judith Meulendijks of the Netherlands, the number two seed, was sent home early after being defeated by Anastasia Prokopenko from Russia 24-22, 21-13.

polish2010-mxMeulendijks, was obviously underperforming after losing her court battle with fellow Dutch senior players Eric Pang and Dicky Palyama against their national federation.  The three are now subsequently out of their national squad.

Another big favourite, Denmark’s Joachim Persson , the number one seed, got a medal but not exactly the colour he planned. Pablo Abian from Spain was simply much better in the semi-final than the favourite from Denmark. But Persson blasted Abian for tactical trickery towards the end of the second game when the Spaniard deliberately lay down on the court to force a break in play (in order to wipe down the ‘wet’ court). The incident obviously distracted the Danish player. Earlier Abian defeated two other Danish players (Kristian Midtgaard and Peter Mikkelsen) and Indra Bagus Ade Chandra from Indonesia, playing now for Spain.

Russia rules

The first final, women’s doubles, was the longest one. Shinta Mulia Sari/ Yao Lei (bottom right) beat Chan Tsz Ka/ Chau Hoi Wah (Hong Kong, 4) 18-21 21-16 21-10. But the finals were not monopolized or dominated by Asia. Ivanov and Sozonov of Russia defeated top-seeded Yohan Hadikusumo Wiratama and Wong Wai Hong (Hong Kong), 21-17 14-21 21-14.

Russia comes into the picture again

The Russians were very happy: “We defeated a very strong pair. This is the biggest win in our career,” – said Sozonov. “For psychological reasons the final was for us harder than semi-final match. That’s the final, isn’t it?” polish2010-wd

His doubles partner Ivanov explained that in spite of his 1.97 m height  he is not just some basketball player who had to give up his first sport to practice badminton. “To put it simply I have always played only badminton,” laughed the Russian giant.

After beating Persson with his strong and offensive play the task of Abian in the men’s singles final against evidently defensive player Hiroyuki Saeki from Japan was much easier. The Japanese was showing symptoms of muscle pain after his journey through the early qualification rounds. Especially a tough semi-final match against his compatriot Hayasaki. After a long rally when Abian saved a hopeless situation and scored his 16th point in the second game, Saeki (top right) fell to the floor exhausted and remained down for what seemed like an eternity. The delight in winning for the Spanish player was obvious after taking the title with a – 21-12 21-10 win.

In women’s singles, Saeki’s compatriot Kana Ito (top left) had also come through from the qualification rounds but looked extremely fresh as she took to the court for the final against Chan Tsz Ka, the number four seed from Hong Kong. The Japanese prevailed and took the title 21-14, 21-18.

The last final, mixed doubles, was the third appearance for a European in the finals and the home continent’s third win. Andrey Ashmarin and Anastasia Prokopenko (photo up) from Russia prevailed over Chayut Triyachart and Yao Lei of Singapore 21-12, 21-17.

For all results click HERE




About Janusz Rudzinski