DUTCH OPEN 2015 SF – Labar/Lefel back from brink

Ronan Labar and Emilie Lefel saved 6 match points on their way to securing a spot in the mixed final of the 2015 Dutch Open. By Don Hearn.  Photos: Arthur […]

Ronan Labar and Emilie Lefel saved 6 match points on their way to securing a spot in the mixed final of the 2015 Dutch Open.

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

It was a thrilling day of loooong matches at the semi-finals of the 2015 .  All but four of the ten matches required a third and deciding game and two of the shorter ones still had games going to extra points.

The pattern for the day was foretold by the first game on the centre court.  Thai veterans Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (pictured) blocked home favourites Jacco Arends / Selena Piek on no fewer than six game points before earning the one-game lead in ‘sudden death’ at 29-all.

The Thais had it slightly easier in the second game but the score stayed close and the Dutch 2nd seeds even erased a 16-12 lead their opponents built up late in the game.  In the end, Sudket and Saralee showed their experience and nabbed the last 3 points to book a spot in their first final since their Indonesia Open victory more than three years ago.

Not to be outdone, the French pair of Ronan Labar and Emilie Lefel (pictured top) booked their first ever appearance in a final together in the best possible fashion.  Not only did they beat a former world #1 pair to do it, but they also saved a whopping six match points in the second game  before finally winning it 20-22, 22-20, 21-16.

As long and as close as those mixed contests were, they were over in a flash compared to the women’s doubles battle between Pia Zebadiah Bernadeth / Aprilsasi Putri Lejarsar Variella (pictured below) of Indonesia and Bulgaria’s Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva (pictured left).  After being agonizingly close to a come-from-behind win in the opening game, the Indonesian ladies bounced back to take the second game and had the clear advantage in the bottom half of the deciding game.

Fatigue took its toll, though, as the two sisters erased four match points in succession, and then a fifth, as Variella in particular was on the floor with nothing left in the tank.  The Bulgarians took the decider 23-21 after 88 gruelling minutes and they will now get a shot at the only remaining home representatives, Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek, in a battle between Europe’s #2 and #3 ranked women’s doubles pairs.

The women’s singles, too, will see an all-European final.  Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour saw off the last Asian challenge when she beat Hsu Ya Ching of Chinese Taipei in three games. That was Gilmour’s first match this week to surpass the hour mark.

Gilmour will take on Karin Schnaase of Germany.  Schnaase won the bout to determine whether she or Denmark’s Line Kjaersfeldt would appear in her first ever Grand Prix final.

The men’s doubles will be an all-Asian affair.  #2 seeds Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy of India have had a year of breakthroughs but after reaching a Grand Prix Gold semi-final and then a final, they are ready to assume the winner’s mantle.  First, they will have to take on the Koo/Tan juggernaut, however.  The Malaysians again needed three games but they saw their way into their second straight final.

Ajay Jayaram returned to the final, ending the impressive run by Malaysia’s Goh Soon Huat.  His opponent will be Estonia’s Raul Must (pictured bottom), who will attempt to do one better than his runner-up finish at the Russia Open this past summer.

Finals line-up
XD:  Ronan Labar / Emilie Lefel (FRA) [4] vs. Sudket Prapakamol / Saralee Thoungthongkam (THA) [5]
WD:  Eefje Muskens / Selena Piek (NED) [1] vs. Gabriela Stoeva / Stefani Stoeva (BUL) [2]
MS:  Ajay Jayaram (IND) [3] vs. Raul Must (EST) [12]
WS:  Karin Schnaase (GER) [3] vs. Kirsty Gilmour (SCO) [5]
MD:  Manu Attri / B. Sumeeth Reddy (IND) [2] vs. Koo Kien Keat / Tan Boon Heong (MAS) [7]

Click here for complete semi-final 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