POLISH OPEN 2015 – Malaysia strikes twice

Malaysia’s Liew Daren and the mixed pair of Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon made the headlines in Arlamow, Poland, taking two titles for their home country while home […]

Malaysia’s Liew Daren and the mixed pair of Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon made the headlines in Arlamow, Poland, taking two titles for their home country while home heroes here left with no crown.

Article and photos by Janusz Rudziński, live in Arlamow

The Yonex Polish Open 2015 took place in Arlamow, near the Ukrainian border. Arlamow is an isolated place surrounded by forest. Fortunately, it is currently not quite so isolated as it was in 1982, when it was the site of a top-secret government complex where soldiers watched over then Solidarity leader Lech Walesa (before he became a Nobel Prize winner and president of the Republic of Poland) during his six-month incarceration as martial law was imposed by the communist regime across the country.

The clean air was favourable to the players who did show but as many as 16 walkovers were counted out during the tournament, the vast majority from no-shows. For example Olympic bronze medallist Nina Vislova did not come to Poland from Russia because of an injury. In the end, in women’s doubles, three pairs went to the quarter-finals without playing a single match.

Malaysia on top

Since Lee Chong Wei had been away from the courts, not many Malaysians have had the opportunity to step on the highest stage of any podium in international competition, and it was probably not expected from Liew Daren, who is still looking to find his momentum back ever since his French Open success in the autumn of 2012.

In fact, for both Malaysian winners, their previous titles had been at the Superseries level and in the same autumn.  For Liew Daren, he had not even made it back to a final in any international tournament since but in the men’s singles final in Arlamow, it was Liew who beat  Emil Holst (pictured) of Denmark 21-15, 21-11.

“Well I think it is good tournament for me, especially I didn’t expected to win after last week’s Swiss Open,” the winner said to Badzine.  “So I am glad to win this tournament. Especially, I nearly lost in the quarter-finals…. Hopefully I kept this momentum for the next tournament.

“I have to say this place is very good. I really like this place.  It is great, so hopefully, next year I’ll come to this place to defend the title.” (Click here to see the video of Liew’s post-match interview)

Later in the day, the same flag would been flying high but this next triumph, in the mixed doubles final, seemed quite possible for Liew’s compatrots Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying (pictured), who have been in two Superseries finals since their last title together and have made respectable showings on either side of Goh’s injury problems. Pradnya Gadre and Akshay Dewalkar from India had six game points in the first game and were leading 14-8 in the second but they finally lost 26-28, 18-21 to Goh and Chan, who have started to rebuild their strong position in the world elite of mixed doubles.

No luck for home players

The host interest was focused on the men’s doubles race. The home team still had three pairs in the quarter-finals. Milosz Bochat and Pawel Pietryja surprised their older teammates Lukasz Moren and Wojciech Szkudlarczyk, beating them in straight games, and advanced to the semi-finals.

In the end, Polish supporters were a bit disappointed because the best Polish pair Adam Cwalina and Przemyslaw Wacha (pictured) was leading in the first game of the final match 15-11 but finally lost to Kenta Kazuno and Kazushi Yamada from Japan 19-21, 12-21.

“We were playing poorly today,” admitted Wacha after the final. “At the finish of the first game, we played too nervously while our opponents stepped up the pace.”

So Cwalina and Wacha did not defend their title from 2013 and 2014. There has been a significant difference, as a consolation for Poles, between the level of this tournament and the previous. In Arlamow were present very strong pairs from Japan, Chinese Taipei, Philippines and India. The rematch of last year’s final (Poland vs. Russia) was played in Arlamow as early as the quarter-finals!

Karin Schnaase of Germany won the women’s singles final against Mariya Ulitina of Ukraine 21-19, 21-15.  It was the only all-European affair on finals day.

“I am very happy to win this tournament, this means a lot for me because this is my first title,” said Schnaase afterward.   “And the Olympic qualification is starting, so for me it is very good to reach here the final, to win, get the points, to see that I am on a good level.

“Next week I have to fly to Asia so I am looking forward. But also I am very happy to play here.  The week was very nice. And it was good to play in Poland, in nice area, nice hotel, everything was very good.” (Click here to see the video of Schnaase’s post-match interview)

Pradnya Gadre from India was present in two finals. She won with N. Sikki Reddy in women’s doubles, beating Alex Bruce and Phyllis Chan (pictured) from Canada in the final 21-16, 21-18.

“I found myself making a lot of mistakes and playing tighter than I have the entire week,” Phyllis Chan posted on her Facebook page. “I also had a lot of trouble moving quickly and anticipating shots today. I got caught by Reddy’s left hand a few times. I am quite disappointed to not have played to my full potential today after playing well the entire week.

“On the bright hand side, this is the best that Alex and I have done in Europe so this does deserve some celebration!”

Like Schnaase, many of the top players will be travelling to Asia, where the Superseries resumes after a mere two-week break.

Click here for complete results

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