SWISS OPEN – 3 take first major titles

Playing in his first major final, Mark Lamsfuss was joined by both women’s doubles winners in winning a first ever major title. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live) Germany’s Mark […]

Playing in his first major final, Mark Lamsfuss was joined by both women’s doubles winners in winning a first ever major title.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss and Isabel Herttrich (pictured) may have been the top seeds at the 2018 but they still had to beat the odds to come away with the title.  For Lamsfuss, it was a career first major tournament final.  For his partner Herttrich, it was the first final of her career in an event with six-figure prize money.  In their last three matches, they faced players with multiple titles and even Olympic medals to their name.

But this was certainly the Germans’ week.  Solid defense and consistency in attack kept them one step ahead of England’s Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, winners of the Dutch Open, the penultimate Grand Prix tournament.  It was their first title as a pair and the first ever major for Lamsfuss.  Herttrich’s biggest achievement to date had been winning the $50,000 U.S. Grand Prix in 2014 so prevailing at a with triple the prize money is a big step up, particularly in an exciting new partnership.

The following match also produced a first.  Japan’s Ayako Sakuramoto / Yukiko Takahata (pictured, with the Stoeva sisters) reached their first Grand Prix Gold final last summer but this time, they were able to outlast their competition and lay claim to the title.

Their opponents were also playing in the second final of their career in a tournament of this level but the biggest previous Sunday appearance by Bulgaria’s Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva was at this very event last year, when they faced the pair that now sits at world #1.  Still, while the Japanese youngsters celebrate their first title in a major tournament, the Bulgarians have two Grand Prix titles to their name and will just need to turn their attention to their future opportunities, starting with the German Open next month, where they are unseeded.

The afternoon opened in Basel with Japan’s Sayaka Takahashi taking care of youngster Natsuki Nidaira (pictured bottom) in women’s singles.  Takahashi, who took the Vietnam Open title last year, had not won a tournament this big since the German Open in 2014.

In the men’s singles, Sameer Verma became the third Indian man in four years to win the title in Basel.  His opponent was Denmark’s Jan Jorgensen (pictured).  The former world #2 was making his first appearance in an individual event since being sidelined with an injury following last summer’s Australian Open.

Unseeded, Jorgensen marched through a field of worthy opponents but his way to the top of the podium was blocked by Verma.  Verma, whose has slipped all the way down to #46 after his career high of 18 just this past autumn, will hope to continue on the way up after his first title in over a year.

Jorgensen will expect to ascend even faster as his ranking is currently based on only 4 tournaments.  He is subject to the rather odd new system of ‘protected ranking’, whereby he was fast-tracked to qualify for this year’s All England to make up for his inability to participate in late-season events in 2017 because of his injury.

The day ended with a fast-paced battle in men’s doubles between Thailand Masters winners Tinn Isriyanet / Kittisak Namdash and former world #1 Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen (pictured).  The Danes, who were playing in their first Swiss Open final since the event was a Superseries back in 2009, were just too good and getting and keeping the attack.  They kept hard and steep smashes going down at the Thais and the unseeded pair just couldn’t produce the counter plays to regain the attack.

The BWF World Tour, which just got back from a lengthy break after the continental team championships and nationals in most of Europe, will take another week off before regrouping for the German Open, which is to be immediately followed by the All England.  Jorgensen is the only singles finalist who will be playing in Mulheim next week and while all the doubles runners-up will be there, Lamsfuss and Herttrich are the only Swiss Open champion pair who are slated for the next Super 300 event.

Final results
WS:  Sayaka Takahashi (JPN) [1] beat Natsuki Nidaira (JPN)  21-12, 21-18
XD:  Mark Lamsfuss / Isabel Herttrich (GER) [1] beat Marcus Ellis / Lauren Smith (ENG) [7]  22-20, 21-19
WD:  Ayako Sakuramoto / Yukiko Takahata (JPN) beat Gabriela Stoeva Stefani Stoeva (BUL) [1]  19-21, 21-15, 21-18
MS:  Sameer Verma (IND) [2] beat Jan O Jorgensen (DEN)  21-15, 21-13
MD:  Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN) [1] beat Tinn Isriyanet / Kittisak Namdash (THA)  21-15, 21-11

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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