The women’s singles final at the Italian International in Milan was a repeat of the Irish final less than a week ago where Germany’s Olga Konon walked away with the spoils in Dublin, today in Milan Natalia Koch Rohde (pictured) overturned that defeat to beat the German in three games.
Both Koch Rohde and Konon have travelled the same well-worn path over the past year. That path being the long and arduous road back from injury to the ultimately happy place of tournament victory and the final death nail to any real memories of the injury that went before.
Their paths have also crossed numerous times in the process as they first battled through qualification together to end the current calendar years as multiple circuit winners.
Today it was to be the turn of the tall Dane to taste the success. Koch Rohde beat Konon in Orleans earlier in the year en route to the title while Konon took down the Dane in Switzerland before claiming her third victory of the year in Dublin last week.
The battles between the pair have been intense but filled with mutual respect and after the opening games were shared it came down to a deciding game shoot out for the title today in Italy. After trading blows early in the match Koch Rohde opened up a 13-7 lead, a lead that Konon was never able to claw back.
In the end the Dane got across the line 21-15 for her second International Challenge title of the year which was the 6th title of 2015 both Konon and Koch Rohde have secured in their combined march back into the world’s top 40. A remarkable feat for both considering they started the year outside number 300 in the world ranking list.
A consistent year rounded off with a win for Nohr & Thygesen
Niclas Nohr and Sara Thygesen have been a thorn in the side of many this past year on the circuit. However, while ultimately consistent the Danes have been without a win which they finally rectified in Milan today.
Opposing the Danes in the mixed doubles finals were Welsh winners Nottingham & Westwood of England who were looking to put last weeks’ early exit in Dublin to bed. The Danes stormed to an opening set win before The English duo seized the initiative at 17-17 in the second to level the match winning 21-17.
The experienced Danes built up a head of steam in the deciding set leading 15-8 and while Nottingham and Westwood clawed their opponents back point by point it proved too little too late as Nohr & Thygesen got across the line 21-19 to lift the title.
The Stoeva sisters completed the hat trick of circuit titles lifting the Italian after victories in Wales and Ireland over the past week in what was the Bulgarians 9th win of 2015 including their success at the European Games in Baku.
Leverdez topples top seed Zwiebler
Top seeded Marc Zwiebler came unstuck against French number 1 Brice Leverdez in a match that extended to almost 70 minutes in today’s final. Leverdez took the opening set 21-17 before the German bounced back to tie the match up with a 21-14 win in the second.
In the deciding set Zwiebler squandered 4 match points of his own before Leverdez took three points in a row while trailing 24-23 to lift the title 26-24.
In the final match of the afternoon Niclas Nohr rounded off a perfect day taking the men’s doubles alongside Kasper Antonsen beating fellow Danes Christiansen & Daugaard in two games.
For all results from the finals of the 2015 Italian International click HERE
Article by Mark Phelan Image courtesy of Badminton Photo - podium photo Roberto Tedeschi