SCOTTISH GP 2013 Finals – Blair/Bankier win home title

Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier won the mixed title against old rivals England in the showcase match at the Yonex Scottish Open GP, whilst earlier Leverdez had put in a […]

Robert Blair and Imogen Bankier won the mixed title against old rivals England in the showcase match at the Yonex GP, whilst earlier Leverdez had put in a strong performance to beat Hurskainen in the men’s singles.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent, live from Glasgow.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (archives)

Brice Leverdez (pictured left) started strongly to blow away his Swedish opponent Hurskainen in the first game of his men’s singles final, racing to 21-8.

A more even game in the second had Henri Hurskainen (pictured right) grinding down the Frenchman, and adding insult to injury a poor line call to go game point down saw the match pushed to a rubber game.

This did not faze Leverdez though, as he started the third brightly, and a tight battle for the net ensued. The Swede led 16-11 towards the end, but started to make errors as Brice caught up with, and passed his opponent with a run of 7 straight points.

The Frenchman eventually took the game, against an increasingly flat Hurskainen who seemed to be a step slower at the end.

Speaking afterwards, he said, “I think mentally I am really strong, and I am very confident in my game now. I thought I’d lost it as after the end of the second as I was very tired.

“I freed up a bit and just played hard in the third.  I tried to fight as hard as I could and he started to make mistakes and seemed to lose confidence in his game. It just feels really good to have come through a hard match.”

The showcase match, and last on court, was the mixed final, a showdown of the old enemies England and Scotland. The game started off very evenly, with a high level from the outset, but Robert Blair, who had earlier won the Robert McCoig Memorial Award, started to control the match with powerful smashes and well-timed moves to the forecourt.

Miscommunication on the English side saw them concede the first game 16-21, with Blair/Bankier on the ascendency.

The English pair, Chris Langridge and Heather Olver (pictured left), who have had strong recent form, looked strangely disjointed, and quickly started to get frustrated as they committed many unforced errors.

The English were too ready to give the Scots a lift, and Blair found a penetrating attack to which they had no reply. Unusually quiet up to this point, Bankier started to play a bigger role at the net as the English game disintegrated.

Blair and Bankier (pictured right) wrapped up a simpler second game, much to the delight of the crowd, finishing as the only Scottish victors at the home tournament.

Speaking after, Bankier said, “It was really good, a week ago I wouldn’t have thought I’d be playing a tournament right now as I ruptured the ligament in my ankle 10 days ago. It feels good actually, the physios have done a really good job with it.”

Blair said of the match, “We know them both but we have never played them together before, but we have seen quite a few videos of them so we had a solid game plan and stuck to it. We found a rhythm quite early on, maybe after the first interval and then just settled play after that, they didn’t seem to get any rhythm.”

Bankier said of the Emirates Arena, which will be used next year at the Commonwealth Games: “This is my first experience of playing here.  For Rob, it was last year. It was a good experience to play in front of a big home crowd.  I think we dealt with it well. It’s just more experience in the bank and we will take it forward to next year.”

The full results for the day can be found here.

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