POLISH OPEN – French double in singles

French shuttlers left Warsaw with both singles titles as the 2016 Polish Open finishes in time for Easter, with one local winner from 7-time champions Mateusiak/Zieba. Story and photos by […]

French shuttlers left Warsaw with both singles titles as the 2016 finishes in time for Easter, with one local winner from 7-time champions Mateusiak/Zieba.

Story and photos by Janusz Rudziński, Badzine Poland Correspondent live in Warsaw

It was in 1988 when Chinese coach Zhou Junling arrived in Poland and started to lay the foundations for modern badminton in this – at that time yet communist – country.  Many years after the conclusion of his mission in Poland, Zhou was remembered there as a legendary “Chinese” (the name was a bit difficult for Poles) teacher, coach of badminton in the main training centre.

This weekend, Zhou came back to Poland with his French players to gain not one but two victories.  Both 6th-seeded Thomas Rouxel (pictured) and unseeded Delphine Lansac won sensationally but convincingly in singles.

Rouxel had some troubles during the tournament. For example, in the match versus Pablo Abian of Spain, the Frenchman was somewhat fortunate that his task was made easier when his opponent was made angry by decisions of the umpire, even to the point of being shown one red card.

In the final, he met fellow dark horse, Eetu Heino of Finland, who was ranked 27 spots lower than Rouxel at #95. In the first game, the Frenchman took control early and won very convincingly. In the second, the contest was closer but after leading 15-14 the Finn scored only one more point while the Frenchman took the seven he needed to secure the title.

It was good preparation for the European Championships in France in April,” said Rouxel afterward.  “I can’t say I expected to win because I’d never won a Challenge in Europe so that’s a first time so I just tried to take it match by match and this time I won so I’m very happy with this one.  I will get a lot of confidence from this tournament so I’m really happy.

Rouxel was not the only happy finalist, however, as his opponent also expressed satisfaction with his performance: “It was a very good tournament for me. These points are very important for me,” revealed Heino.  “So I am basically back in business. Of course I am a bit disappointed at losing the final but speaking about all the tournament, I am satisfied.”

The Finn played in the second round against his younger brother, Iikka, who made a big surprise in the first round eliminating top seed Brice Leverdez.

Not only was Rouxel not the only French shuttler to win in Warsaw, but his compatriot Delphine Lansac (pictured) joined him in scoring an first.  For Lansac, however, it was her first singles title at this level on any continent and unlike Rouxel, she won all of her matches in straight games, including victories over 4th-seeded Bulgarian Linda Zetchiri in the round of 16 and then over 2nd-seeded Olga Konon in the semi-final.

In the final, Lansac was leading nearly throughout.  She perfectly kept the rhythm that she had at the beginning of the tournament.

When she was leading 18-8, something unusual happened and the match had to be paused. The Delphine’s side of court was fouled by an unexpected fan: a pigeon living in the hall. According to a superstition well-known in Poland, when you become dirty because of birds it should bring happiness, especially financial fortune.

This sign from the heavens directed toward Lansac’s side of the court was rather unnecessary for the young French girl because she was fully in control in this game.  To be sure, Lansac won some prize money in Warsaw and was very happy after the match.

“This is my first victory in an [International] Challenge so I’m really, really happy,” said Lansac after the match.

“It’s the last month for [Olympic] qualification and these points are really, really important for me,” added Lansac, who should go from being the 3rd last non-continental qualifier, with Kati Tolmoff breathing down her neck, to as high as 24th among the 38 qualifiers.

For the home crowd, the most important was the mixed doubles final. Robert Mateusiak and Nadia Zieba (pictured), applauded by their fans, beat Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing of Malaysia.

The Malaysian pair was prevailing a long time in the first game and was even leading as late as 17-14. But 40-year-old Mateusiak was fast and agile as usual and, strongly supported by Zieba, the Poles were generally unstoppable. Polish pair took control, won this game and the next, more easily.

After this win, our position in the race to Rio is more comfortable,” said Mateusiak.  “The most important advantage that this result gave us is the seeding as the fourth pair in the European Championships in France,” he added.

Zieba and Mateusiak were the only European representatives in any of the doubles finals of Polish Open.  In men’s doubles, Hadrianto Hadrianto and Kenas Adi Haryanto of Indonesia beat Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Kittinupong Kedren (pictured) from Thailand.

Dechapol’s mixed partner Sapsiree Taerattanachai won in women’s doubles with Puttita Supajrakul (pictured bottom).  All three Thai pairs are locked in battles with their compatriots to take their team’s ticket to Rio and the two finalists in Poland did get a slight boost.

Final results
MS: Thomas Rouxel (FRA) [6] beat Eetu Heino (FIN)  21-11, 21-16
XD: Robert Mateusiak / Nadiezda Zieba (POL) [1] beat Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing (MAS)  21-18, 21-14
MD: Hardianto Hardianto / Kenas Adi Haryanto (INA) beat Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Kittinupong Kedren (THA) [3]  21-5, 18-21, 21-15
WD: Puttita Supajirakul / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) [1] beat Chow Mei Kuan / Lee Meng Yean (MAS)  21-7, 21-17
WS: Delphine Lansac (FRA) beat Neslihan Yigit (TUR)  21-19, 21-11

Click here for complete results

About Janusz Rudzinski