SCOTTISH OPEN 2014 SF – Sato-sfying progress

Sayaka Sato continued her return from injury as she beat Commonwealth medallist Kirsty Gilmour on home turf to progress to her second Grand Prix final in 3 weeks. Wang Tzu […]

Sayaka Sato continued her return from injury as she beat Commonwealth medallist Kirsty Gilmour on home turf to progress to her second final in 3 weeks. Wang Tzu Wei, the only other non-European left in the draw played a thriller against former winner Anand Pawar, and will face the eccentric Ville Lång, beard and all, in the final.

By Michael Burke, Badzine Correspondent live from Glasgow.  Photos: Badmintonphoto and Don Hearn (archives).

Sayaka Sato (pictured left) left the London Olympics in tears having sustained a serious knee injury in her match against Tine Baun. She has struggled since with her recovery, but here bested Kirsty Gilmour, Commonwealth silver medallist in the same hall, in three games.  A slow burning game saw Sato recover from a slow start to save a match point, forcing the rubber, which she took comfortably.

“This is my best victory, sure.” Sato said, although she continued, “My knee is still sore, very sore from London.”

Blair and Bankier were the only Scots to progress on the day.  The Commonwealth Games bronze medallists came through against Germans Kaesbauer / Herttrich. The Scots were slow to get into the game however as they made sloppy errors throughout.

Asked whether the Commonwealth Games hangover had an effect, Blair, who is considering his future in the sport, said, “It’s been a while since we played a competitive tournament. It’s a bit strange coming in to it because usually you train so hard, but we’ve done it so often it quickly comes back.”

For the second time in as many years a Spaniard is in the final of the Scottish Grand Prix, but Beatriz Corrales had to save game points and grind it out to win in straight games, as the diminutive Saili Rane of India posed a tough challenge.

“For Spain it’s really good to have another woman in the finals here, but it will be very tough tomorrow. Sayaka is a tough opponent, she just beat Kirsty and she’s a very good player so we will see what happens, but I will try my best,” said Corrales.

Ville Lång (pictured right) pushed through to the final after a hard-fought three-game match against Ukrainian Zavadsky, but not without providing his usual entertainment factor as he brought his lighter hearted touch to the match.

“It was obviously a tough match. In the middle of the third I was not tired but as I got closer to the end and I could see the finish line in sight, I started to hit the mental and then the physical wall,” said Ville.

Ville won back in 2006 and is no stranger to Glasgow. “The night life has ruined me a few tournaments here before, so definitely not going out the night before the final.”

In the final, he will face New Zealand Open champion Wang Tzu Wei, who beat Anand Pawar, another previous winner here. After an incredibly tight first game, which finished 25-23, the 19-year-old from Chinese Taipei pulled away to finish more comfortably in the second.

“I didn’t know if I could win today but I player well, and I was lucky,” said Wang. He will have a challenge tomorrow, as he was obviously uncomfortable after the match with heavy strapping and ice on his shoulder.

Earlier, Danes Cristiansen and Daugaard had easily passed their English opponents in the first match of the day, and the pair were obviously relieved to come through.

“It’s nice to be back again in finals. We won in Belgium but we’ve had a down patch after that so it’s good to be back. It’s what we play for.” Said Daugaard.

Germans Beck and Heinz (pictured left), a new pairing as of this summer will join them as they got past seventh seeded French pair Constantin / Lo Ying Ping.

“We won our first tournament this year in the Mauritius, which was a very pleasant start, and we hope to add to this tomorrow. They are a strong pair; they put out our compatriots Max and Josche so maybe we will try to get a better tactic from them.” Said Heinz.

The Stoeva sisters (pictured right), rising stars of European women’s doubles, have been improving constantly from their impressive showing in the European championships. The Bulgarian pair out‑powered Scots Bankier and Gilmour, who were both on court for the second time in the day, with acrobatics were not enough to save the home favourites.

“We are happy with our success. We don’t expect and easy match when we play them as we know them very well and they are both tough fighters,” said Stefani.

The young Bulgarians have their sights set on success however, “Our target is to qualify for the Olympics and to see our names in the top 10.”

The full results for the day can be found here.

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