DUTCH OPEN 2017 Finals – 2 Grand Prix firsts; Momota marches on back

The 2017 Dutch Open Grand Prix saw four players win their first ever Grand Prix titles, while Kento Momota got the biggest title yet of his post-comeback phase. By Don […]

The 2017 saw four players win their first ever titles, while got the biggest title yet of his post-comeback phase.

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

The 2017 Dutch Open Grand Prix was the biggest title yet for former world #2 Kento Momota (pictured right).  Denied by compatriot Kanta Tsuneyama in his very first post-comeback event, the Canada Open, Momota won easily this time against a different Japanese opponent, Yu Igarashi.

The straight-game win was Momota’s 5th straight final since his return to international badminton in July and it was the Dutch Open became his 4th straight title but the first this year at the Grand Prix level.  Domestic rules prohibit him from playing Superseries tournaments abroad until he officially earns a spot back on the national team A squad.  He will aim slightly higher next month, having been entered in the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold.

Women’s singles finally saw a Grand Prix final between the Pan Am region’s two top shuttlers.  Zhang Beiwen of the United States missed her appointment against Canada’s Michelle Li (pitured below) at the Canada Open last year but this time she was match fit and repeated as Dutch Open champion by winning in straight games.

Li is in the middle of a comeback of her own, having undergone a long recovery process from surgery last year.  This final in Almere was her second in a major tournament this year, after she was runner-up at the U.S. Open in July.

First as a pair

The afternoon began with an all-Indonesian women’s doubles final.  Della Destiara Haris / Rizki Amelia Pradipta had both been to the top of Grand Prix podiums in the past but this was their first time doing it together.  In only their second outing together, they beat out top-seeded established pair Anggia Shitta Awanda / Ni Ketut Mahadewi Istarani (pictured bottom) in straight games.

Saving the first till last

The last two matches of the day featured a quartet of first-time Grand Prix winners.  In the mixed doubles, it would have been a first for someone, no matter which side won but while title-less Jacco Arends was playing with a partner with multiple titles to her name, neither member of the English pair had yet tasted Grand Prix success.

Marcus Ellis, although an Olympic bronze medallist, excelled outside of his traditional forte, taking his first Grand Prix title in the mixed discipline.  He and Lauren Smith (pictured right, with Arends/Piek) were just too good at keeping the home pair guessing and mixed superb blocks and drops with very effective punch clears.

Arends and Piek came close to reeling in the Brits in both games but in each case, Ellis and Smith managed to widen the gap once more.

Like Haris and Pradipta before them, Liao Min Chun and Su Cheng Heng (pictured top) of Chinese Taipei were able to go from silver at the Vietnam Open to gold in the Netherlands.  They beat the in-form Takuto Inoue and Yuki Kaneko and took what was a Grand Prix first for both shuttlers.

While the Dutch Open is a popular preparation event for the last European leg of the Superseries, only half of the finalists this year are headed to Odense for the Denmark Open.  Both finalists from both women’s events headed north after the Dutch Open, along with Ellis and Smith.

Final results
WD:  Della Destiara Haris / Rizki Amelia Pradipta (INA) beat Anggia Shitta Awanda / Ni Ketut Mahadewi Istarani (INA) [1]  21-17, 21-16
MS:  Kento Momota (JPN) beat Yu Igarashi (JPN) [13]  21-10, 21-12
WS:  Zhang Beiwen (USA) [1] beat Michelle Li (CAN) [6]  21-16, 21-14
XD:  Marcus Ellis / Lauren Smith (ENG) [8] beat Jacco Arends / Selena Piek (NED) [6]  21-17, 21-18
MD:  Liao Min Chun / Su Cheng Heng (TPE) [5] beat Takuto Inoue / Yuki Kaneko (JPN) [2]  24-22, 21-18

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