BELIGUM INT’L – Danes in double delight

Anders Skaarup Rasmussen is in seventh heaven and very likely even above. The 24-year-old Dane won both mixed and men’s doubles at the Yonex Belgian International. The latter of these […]

Anders Skaarup Rasmussen is in seventh heaven and very likely even above. The 24-year-old Dane won both mixed and men’s doubles at the Yonex Belgian International. The latter of these two encounters turned out to be one of the most memorable matches in the tournament’s history.

By Elm Vandevorst, Badzine Correspondent live in Leuven.  Photos: Fons Van der Vorst (live)

Since the Yonex Belgian International became part of Badminton Europe’s tournament circuit in 2005, top players such as Juliane Schenk, Kenichi Tago and Marc Zwiebler have claimed victory in Belgium. With Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (pictured), we might well have seen another player who will outgrow the European circuit very soon. Rasmussen heads back home with two titles and a major confidence boost.

The Dane started off finals day together with Lena Grebak. The twosome had won 16 out of 19 matches so far this year and prevailed in, amongst others, the Denmark International and the Spanish Open. Their opponents Jacco Arends and Selena Piek from the Netherlands, however, were a force to be reckoned with.  Both pairs took a hesitant start and at 13-13, it looked as if the match could have gone either way. A short sprint in the end from the Danes was enough for a 21-18 victory.

The Dutch duo was in desperate need of a new game plan if they still wanted to win this match. Their new tactic worked perfectly with a dominant Piek in total control at the net in the second game. Nevertheless, this wasn’t enough to finish off their adversaries. Rasmussen and Grebak restored the balance in the deciding third game and Rasmussen could celebrate his first victory of the day.

But the best was yet to come. In the final match of the day, Rasmussen put the icing on the cake alongside Kim Astrup Sorensen. In a match filled with excitement, intimidation and controversy, they required five game points to secure the opening game 28-26.

It was a thriller at the highest level with the Danes up and against top seeds Chris Langridge (pictured here opposite Astrup Sorensen) and Peter Mills with every spectator at the edge of their seat. This match really had everything the crowd was hoping for: thunderous smashes and smooth strokes, combined with a fantastic defence from all four players. None of these gladiators was willing to lose, however at 27-26 the fifth chance to decide the first game became the good one for the Scandinavians.

Assisted by the support of the crowd, Rasmussen and Astrup took the lead at 14-14 and drew the match to a close at 21-18, much to the delight of the young Danes.  This was particularly satisfying for Astrup Sorensen, who put an end to a streak of defeats in his last six finals.

This has to be the best match we have played so far together…ever,” said Astrup. In the end, I think we were just a bit more confident and that gave us the edge. We’re friends on and off court and that really works in our advantage. That doesn’t mean that we’re not serious about or sport, but we really are.

Of course, we want to be back next year. But we’re already dreaming of acting on an even higher level.

Beside this Danish dominance, Indonesia also had a field day, resulting in two titles, in both the singles. Defending champion Andre Kurniawan Tedjono (pictured) prolonged his reign. Just as last year, Tedjono was too strong for top seed Eric Pang. The tall Dutchman was simply overclassed by his rival and had to accept defeat in straight games, which Tedjono won 21-17, 21-11.

Tedjono’s compatriot Febby Angguni, winner at the Kharkov International last week, was also able to add a Belgian title to her record. In opposition to Cheng Chi Ya, Angguni won the important opening game 22-20. Although she appeared to be injured, caused by a straddle in the first game, Angunni cruised to a 21-11 victory in the second.

Could the solid defence of the Stoeva sisters be enough to overcome Scotlands’s Imogen Bankier and her doubles partner Petya Nedelcheva? With a convincing 21-12 in game one Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva could almost feel the title. Bankier and Nedelcheva simply had no answer for the rock solid resistance of their young Bulgarian adversaries. The Scottish-Bulgarian mix leveled up with a easy win in the second and also converted the deciding rubber in their advantage 13-21, 21-11, 21-18.

Final results
XD: Anders Skaarup Rasmussen / Lena Grebak (DEN) [4] beat Jacco Arends / Selena Piek (NED)  21-18, 9-21, 21-15
WD: Imogen Bankier (SCO) / Petya Nedelcheva (BUL) beat Gabriela Stoeva / Stefani Stoeva (BUL) [2]  13-21, 21-11, 21-18
MS: Andre Kurniawan Tedjono (INA) [6] beat Eric Pang [1]  21-17, 21-11
WS: Febby Angguni (INA) [8] beat Cheng Chi Ya (TPE)  22-20, 21-11
MD: Anders Skaarup Rasmussen / Kim Astrup Sorensen (DEN) beat Chris Langridge / Peter Mills (ENG) [1]  28-26, 21-18

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