A collection of Asia’s finest players decided to travel all the way to Europe to go head-to-head with their European adversaries. Many of these latter are used to playing in the European Circuit, a series of tournaments organized by Badminton Europe. But what were they worth in a Grand Prix Gold environment against some of the best shuttlers around?
By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent. Photos: Sven Heise (live)
It became a very good day for players we don’t see so often shine on an international level. However, the names of Russian pair Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov (pictured) must ring a bell. The twosome has already clinched many titles. Today they surprised Chinese pair Chai Biao and Guo Zhendong in three thrilling games 17-21, 21-19, 25-23 after more than an hour of play. They will now meet Hiroyuki Endo and Kenichi Hayakawa in the second round.
Moreover, both Russians participate in the singles with mixed results. Sozonov was halted by Carl Baxter of England, but Ivanov overcame Taiwan’s Hsu Jen Hao. In the second round, he’s up against eleventh seeded Shon Wan Ho from Korea. Also, all other Russian participants can already book their return ticket to Mother Russia.
Calling Ville Lang an old hand has to be said with all respect. The unpredictable Finn is a multiple national champion and is able to produce top badminton when totally focused. Today became one of these top days, as Lang sent Boonsak Ponsana back to Thailand in straight games 22-20, 21-14.
Lang, who won a bronze medal at the European Junior Championships in 2003, had already easily crushed Iranian Kaveh Mehrabi 21-11, 21-13. Now he can prepare for his match against another revelation Christian Lind Thomsen, another familiar face at the European Circuit. The tall Dane, often in the shadow from his compatriots Axelsen, Jorgensen and Vittinghus, was moved into the spotlight after his remarkable victory against former World Junior Champion Wang Zhengming 21-12, 21-18. Later today, Lind Thomsen also prevailed over Chan Kwong Beng in straight games.
Shinta Mulia Sari and Yao Lei from Singapore decided to travel all over the world in their search for qualification for the Olympics. Not only trips to their neighbouring countries, but also visits to Canada, the Ukraine and even Belgium were scheduled. Their form seems to be increased by playing many tournaments. Today, they had a brilliant day against top seeds Ha Jung Eun / Kim Min Jung.
The Koreans, runners-up last year, had a comfortable start in the first game with 21-17. But after 72 minutes, they had to find to their despair their rivals had won both game two and three 21-14 and 21-18. It was a very sweet victory for the Singaporean pair after they had lost their latest encounters at the Swiss and England Open last year. Also their previous encounter in Germany, in 2009, was won by the Koreans.
Spain may not seem to be a badminton-minded state, but they still have two players left who can go all the way at the RWE-Sporthalle. Pablo Abian (pictured above) firstly defeated Hsueh Hsuan Yi 15-21, 21-12, 21-19, before beating Kevin Cordon of Guatemala 21-14, 21-17. This last encounter was a rematch of their clash at the World Championships last year. Spain’s best shuttler is rewarded with a true challenge Thursday against first-seeded Lin Dan.
Born and raised in Huelva, the ever-likeable Carolina Marin (pictured left) must become one of Europe’s stars in the near future. The talented youngster had few problems eliminating fourth seeded Cheng Shao Chieh from Taiwan 21-10, 21-19. Marin’s next opponent will become qualifier Lindaweni Fanetri.
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