SWEDISH INT’L Finals – Pablo ends Viktor’s run

Pablo Abian (pictured) did today what he had been threatening to do over the closing months of 2010, which was to put 5 good matches together to eventually win an […]

Pablo Abian (pictured) did today what he had been threatening to do over the closing months of 2010, which was to put 5 good matches together to eventually win an event on the European tour.

Article and Images by Mark Phelan (Live in Stockholm)

The bubbly Spaniard had twice finish runner-up in International Challenge events at the back end of 2010 in both Ireland and Italy. Today, Abian had an enormous challenge to overcome in trying to turn silver into gold as opposite him was none other than Viktor Axelsen, the new darling of Danish badminton.

The last time the two met was at the Dutch Open where Axelsen dealt a rather hefty defeat to the Spaniard and this time Abian was not going to suffer the same fate. The first game appeared to be heading the right direction for Axelsen and leading 19-16 looked to be in complete control. But Pablo Abian has been around a while and a distinct change of tactic where he attacked and shortened the rallies yielded fruit as he remarkably took 5 points in a row to clinch the opening set.

The young World junior Champion never really recovered in the second set and at 10-6 behind the Axelsen fire went out. Abian rattled of 11 unanswered points to take the win and the delight was evident as it clenched his fists and screamed in delight.

“The last time I played Viktor he beat me very badly and I did not want to let this happen again. I have studied him and watch many videos of his play and I had my tactic right in this final. I also played very well today almost as good as I can play, for me it was near my perfect game so I am very pleased to win here,” said Abian after his victory.

In the women’s singles the diminutive Kaori Imabeppu (pictured) battled back from a set down to retain the title she lifted in 2010. In an all Japanese final the levels of stamina shown were almost unbelievable as both women ran each other from corner to corner for one hour and twenty minutes.

Eventually the smaller Japanese prevailed as Sekiya, who obviously feeling the trip of a journey through qualification, had nothing left in the tank as Imabeppu retained her title with a 13-21 22-20 21-16 victory.

Imabeppu was not the only player to retain a title she won in 2010. In the mixed event Robin Middleton (pictured with mixed finalists) was victories with new partner Heather Olver again in three sets over Dave Khodabux and Samantha Barning of The Netherlands. Last year Middleton partnered Chris Langridge to the Swedish title and it was clear to see that these courts in Sweden suit the Englishman as he feels very much at home here.

Another to retain her title was Marie Ropke (pictured with Line Kruse) of Denmark. The elegant Dane has had a tough 2010 after losing her long time partner Helle Nielsen to retirement. It was in fact this very tournament last year where Ropke last delivered a success of meaning and after going through a year of change has finally found a partner who put the smile back on her face. This win is made all the more remarkable as this is her very first tournament with new sidekick Line Kruse and both really do look so comfortable on court together. The Danes made the world number 16 pair of Eto and Wakita look almost amateurish in a convincing 21-14 21-16 win.

“Having won here last year and after having a tough year I am just so happy to come back to Sweden again with Line (Kruse) to defend this title. Our goal is to reach the top 20 in the world before the world championships and this win over the world number 16 pair gives up great hope and belief that we can achieve that goal,” said a delighted Ropke to Badzine.

The final match on court was the men’s doubles and what a thrilling climax to an excellent tournament it proved to be. Polish pair of Moren and Szkudlarczyk looked to be heading to a 2 set victory and had 3 match points in the second set but whenever have you seen a Danish men’s doubles pair lie down and accept defeat, the answer is never, and the new young guns of Fladberg and Astrup Sorensen (pictured) are straight out of that Danish ‘never say die’ mould. The Danes tied it all up at 20-20 and went on to take the match to a deciding set with a 25-23 win.

The deciding set was immense and at 16-16 the match was balanced on a knife edge. You have often heard the expression that ‘decisions change matches’ and today that old saying came to fruition as Astrup stumbled backwards to retrieve a shuttle that really he had no right to get to but somehow he did. The shuttled looped towards the net and all the Poles had to do was perform a simple

net kill which is exactly what happened bit the umpire deemed it a foul as the polish racket impacted the shuttle on the wrong side of the net. To say that the poles were less than impressed is somewhat of an understatement but from where these eyes were positioned the umpire made a very good decision but who would want to be an umpire!!!!

The decision clearly unsettled the Poles and the young Danes went on to take their first senior title to their absolute delight.

So ends another Swedish International and once again the Swedish organisers have shown how a proper tournament should be organised and run. A great venue, with great facilities, great hotels and superb badminton action all run with extreme precision and accuracy. Well done Sweden!!

For all results click HERE

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