DUTCH OPEN 2015 Finals – First Grand Prix titles for Gilmour and Lefel

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour made the 2015 Dutch Open her first ever Grand Prix title as did Emilie Lefel of France. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Arthur van der Velde for Badmintonphoto […]

Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour made the 2015 Dutch Open her first ever title as did Emilie Lefel of France.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Arthur van der Velde for Badmintonphoto (live)

Kirsty Gilmour (pictured right) of Scotland had been there before.  Two years ago, she reached finals in both Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold events but she had been waiting until this year to convert that to a title in Almere, Netherlands.

Gilmour was up against Germany’s Karin Schnaase (pictured above with Gilmour).  The German was seeded higher but was playing in her first ever major event final. The Scot was trailing slightly for most of the first game but surged ahead to win in before dominating the second game.  The victory means that Kirsty Gilmour will be the 2nd-highest European in the women’s singles world rankings.

For France’s Emilie Lefel, her shot at a first ever Grand Prix title involved a daunting task.  On the other side of the net stood Thailand’s Sudket Prapakamol and Saralee Thoungthongkam, the one-time world #1 pair whose last final gave them a Superseries Premier title.  Saralee sat out most of the 2015 season but the Thais have come roaring back and had beaten current top ten in both weeks previous to arriving in the Netherlands.

Lefel had her own advantages, however.  On Saturday, she and her partner had already beaten another former world #1 on the comeback trail.  In fact, they were the first to stop Mateusiak/Zieba from reaching a final in the six events since the Poles returned to competition.

Perhaps Emilie Lefel‘s biggest advantage, though, came with her partner Ronan Labar (pictured).  Of course, they’ve played in numerous finals together but Labar also brought to the court the experience of having won the tournament last year in men’s doubles.  He began his campaign in Almere in 2014 after he and Lefel had already been beaten by the eventual mixed doubles champions.

This year, the French players were the eventual champions.  They enjoyed a surprisingly quick victory over the Thai veterans and set the stage for an afternoon of decisive finals.

In a way, it was the opposite result in the men’s doubles.  Rather than a first-time Grand Prix winner – as India’s Manu Attri and B. Sumeeth Reddy were hoping to be – it was the former world #1 pair who took the title.  Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong (pictured bottom) ended the day with the afternoon’s shortest final, requiring less than half an hour to defeat the 2nd-seeded Indians.

It was a case of consecutive victories in both men’s singles and women’s doubles.  In fact, it would have been a streak of sorts no matter who had won the women’s doubles.  Home favourites and top seeds Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek hoped it would be them, repeating as champions and winning their second title in three years.

Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva (pictured) of Bulgaria had different intentions, however.  For them, it would be their second victory in two weeks.  They squandered their first two game point opportunities in the opener but they made good on their third and won the next game more handily.  It was the first time in two years that they had beaten the Dutch pair and the victory gave them their second Grand Prix title of the year.

By the time his final came around, men’s singles winner Ajay Jayaram (pictured) was the last of the 2014 champions to have a shot at a title defense.  He made no mistake about it, beating Estonia’s Raul Must in two quick games.  The Indian has shown good form of late, particularly with his run to the final of the Korea Open last month, but this is his first time atop the podium since he won in Almere last autumn.

Now all finalists but Koo/Tan and Prapakamol/Thoungthongkam will be making the trip up to Odense, where they will be joined by the rest of the world’s top badminton players as the Superseries resumes with the Denmark Open.

Final results
XD: Ronan Labar / Emilie Lefel (FRA) [4] beat Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (THA) [5]  21-10, 21-18
WD: Gabriela Stoeva / Stefani Stoeva (BUL) [2] beat Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek (NED) [1]  24-22, 21-15
MS: Ajay Jayaram (IND) [3] beat Raul Must (EST) [12]  21-12, 21-18
WS: Kirsty Gilmour (SCO) [5] beat Karin Schnaase (GER) [3]  21-16, 21-13
MD: Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) [7] beat Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy (IND) [2]  21-15, 21-10

Click here for complete results

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @ badzine.net