The French public came out in force today for the quarter finals and semi-finals of the 2016 Orleans International. In front of a full house the French players responded with National women’s doubles champions Delphine Delrue and Lea Palermo (main picture) stealing the show to put the home nation within one match of lifting the first ever French title in Orleans.
Delrue & Palermo, wild cards for the European Championships coming up in a few weeks in La Roche Sur Yon, were outsiders for French success this week but adhered themselves to the home crowd with a win over Choong and Wen of Malaysia in the mornings quarter final.
The French followed up with an amazing two game semi-final win, buoyed on by the boisterous crowd, just as it looked like Japanese opposition Aratama and Watanabe were taking the match into a deciding game.
The Japanese led 17-13 and 18-16 with the French looking second best and a third set likely. From nothing the French delivered a killer blow taking 5 of the next six points to take the match as the home crowd went wild.
“It is unbelievable to do this this week as we are a new pair” said Palermo. “The feeling with the supporters behind us is great and we hope tomorrow they can do the same again and we can deliver the win”
The French will play English top seeds Heather Olver and Lauren Smith as the English dominated their semi-final over Chow and Lee of Malaysia in two easy games.
The women’s doubles win proved to be as good as it got for France as number 1 men’s singles seed Brice Leverdez came unstuck in the semi-final against Emil Holst of Denmark. Holst set up an all Danish final as earlier Rasmus Fladberg put a tough year behind him to reach the final in two games over Pedro Martins of Portugal.
“Yes it has been an up and down year but after winning the nationals I found some new confidence and my game has come back to where I want it to be” said Fladberg after the semi-final victory. “The atmosphere here in the hall is electric will all the fans and I hope I can feed off that in tomorrow’s final”
Swedish qualifiers take down fancied Malaysians
It was a tough trip just to get to Orleans this week for the Swedish team with the ATC strikes across France at the beginning of the week. Nico Ruponen and Richard Eidestedt had to come through qualification the hard way with a pair of tough three sets games as they settled into the tournament.
After winning the quarter final this morning not many would have given the Swedes a chance against Tan & Tan of Malaysia in the semi-final but the Swedish pair came through a very tight opening game 22-20 and went on to dominated the second game to make the final.
The Swedes will now play Hardianto and Haryanto in tomorrow’s final after the Indonesians beat Cwalina & Wacha of Poland, twice winners in Orleans, in the last of today’s semi finals.
There was no joy for either Konon or Schnaase in the women’s singles with Konon letting two match points slip in her quarter final against world junior champion Jin Wei GOH. Schnaase lost out in her semi-final with tomorrow’s final being a shootout between GOH and Fitriani of Indonesia.
Title defence on track for Christiansen and Grebak
The sole remaining defending champions in the tournament, Lena Grebak and Mathias Christiansen (pictured above), wasted little time in booking yet another finals day appearance at International Challenge level. The Danes started slowly in the tournament but have gained momentum and today were clear semi-final winners over dangerous Malaysian pair Tan and Lai.
The Malaysians have looked very dangerous this week in Orleans and the Danes rank the semi-final win as one of their best on the circuit.
“This was a very big win for us today” said Christiansen after the win “We know how good they are and in particular Lai at the front court. Lena took her on and beat her today and we think we have just got better as the tournament has progressed.”
The Danes will feature in an all European mixed doubles final tomorrow after Barning and Tableing came through against Seidel and Efler of Germany.
For all results from today’s semi-final in Orleans click HERE
To re visit all the action on demand from court 2 on BEtv YouTube channel click HERE
For a full quarter & semi-final photo gallery click HERE
Article and Images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe