Denmark’s Jan Ø. Jørgensen will begin the defence of his men’s singles title with a second-round test against Bulgaria’s Blagovest Kisyov or Latvia’s Niks Podosinoviks after the draw for the European Championships took place this afternoon.
The 25th Championships come to France for the first time when the Vendéspace at La Roche sur Yon hosts the event from April 26 - May 1. And the draw has thrown up some exciting contests as Europe’s best players prepare to head for the Vendée region.
Jørgensen’s first real challenge should come in the quarter-finals where he is on course to meet sixth seed Brice Leverdez. That would be a repeat of their quarter-final two years ago when Jørgensen needed three games to overcome the French No.1
If the draw goes according to seeding Jørgensen’s Danish team-mate Hans-Kristian Vittinghus or England’s 2014 silver medallist Rajiv Ouseph are expected to face him in the semi-finals. Ouseph beat Vittinghus in three games in the 2014 quarter-finals but Vittinghus is on form after winning the Scottish Open Grand Prix in November and reaching the Yonex All England semi-finals last month.
Second seed Viktor Axelsen, who like fellow Dane Jørgensen starts with a bye, will begin against the winner of the first-round contest between Dutchman Erik Meijs and France’s wild card player, Lucas Claerbout.
The Indian Open runner-up may have to overcome Germany’s 2012 champion Marc Zwiebler in the semi-finals if he wants the chance to dethrone team-mate Jørgensen and at the same time improve on his bronze medal at Kazan 2014 when he lost to Jørgensen in straight games in the semi-finals. Axelsen also won bronze in 2012.
The draw has been tough on France, who have never won a men’s singles medal. If Thomas Rouxel wins his second-round match against Portugal’s Pedro Martins or Poland’s Adrian Dziolko, he is likely to face Axelsen.
France’s other hope Lucas Corvee has a better draw. After a bye he meets Russia’s Vladimir Malkov or Poland’s Michal Rogalski.
Spain’s double world champion Carolina Marin starts the defence of her women’s singles title with a second-round contest against Lithuania’s Akvile Stapusaityte.
Germany’s Olga Konan, the fifth seed, is expected to come through to face Marin in the quarter-finals with Denmark’s European Games and Scottish Open winner Line Kjærsfeldt likely to provide the semi-final opposition. But first she may have to contend with Linda Zetchiri if the Bulgarian lives up to her No. 8 seeding.
Zetchiri leads 2-1 in head to heads but Kjærsfeldt won their most recent meeting in February at the European Women’s Team Championships in Kazan.
In the bottom half of the draw Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour faces a tricky start against Turkey’s Neslihan Yigit in the second round. Gilmour won their only meeting but that was back in 2013. The Commonwealth Games silver medallist can expect to find Spain’s sixth seed Beatriz Corrales and Germany’s Karin Schnaase barring her path in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.
The danger in the bottom half could be Denmark’s 2014 runner-up Anna Thea Madsen, who hit form at the weekend by winning the Finnish Open. Madsen is unseeded and starts against Iceland’s Sara Högnadottir. If Madsen wins her first two matches she could face a last 16 contest with seventh seed Kristina Gavnholt, the Slovakian-born Czech player who lives in the Danish city of Herning.
Mathias Boe is looking to add to his 2012 European title and his 2015 European Games triumph. But he will have to do it without Carsten Mogensen by his side.
But don’t rule him out as he has been given a wild card with in-form Mathias Christiansen, who steps in while Mogensen continues his rehabilitation.
Christiansen will be brimming with confidence after mixed doubles wins at the Orleans International and Finnish Open as well as a men’s doubles triumph in Helsinki with David Daugaard.
Boe and Christiansen are fifth seeds and start their challenge against Matthew Nottingham and Harley Towler with another England pair Marcus Ellis and Chris Langridge seeded to meet the Danes in the quarter-finals.
They are in the bottom half of the draw where Denmark’s second seeds and 2014 runners-up Mads Conrad and Mads Kolding take on Russia’s Nikita Khakimov and Vasily Kuznetsov. But their first big test should come if they meet German seventh seeds Michael Fuchs and Johannes Schöttler in the quarter-finals.
But the top Russian pair of Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov are still the ones to watch. The defending champions and top seeds open their title defence against Dutch pair Ruben Jille and Robin Tabeling. Who can stop the Yonex All England champions repeating their Haka celebration on finals day on May 1? Poland’s sixth seed Adam Cwalina and Przemyslaw Wacha will give it their best shot as they are on course for a quarter-final rematch. The two pairs met in Kazan and the Russians won a thriller 21-19 in the third game of their second-round clash.
Top French pair Baptiste Careme and Ronan Labar or Denmark’s Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup should come through to pose a semi-final threat.
The women’s doubles has put Dutch second seeds Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek on course for a semi-final rematch with Bulgaria’s third seeds Gabriela and Stefani Stoeva. The pairs met in the quarter-finals two years ago with Muskens and Piek winning 25-23 21-15 to claim a bronze medal.
But for them to meet again Muskens and Piek may have to overcome German pair Isabel Herttrich and Birgit Michels in the quarters while the Stoeva sisters could face England’s Orleans winners Heather Olver and Lauren Smith at the same stage.
In the top half defending champions Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen, who only dropped one game on the way to the 2014 title, are chasing a hat-trick together. The top seeds should not be tested until the semi-finals where they can expect to face German fourth seeds Johanna Goliszewski and Carla Nelte.
But the German pair may have to overcome Dutch pair Samantha Barning and Iris Tabeling in the quarters first.
The mixed doubles could be the closest fought of the events with defending champions Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen and 2012 winners Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba strong contenders. But husband-and-wife pair Chris and Gabby Adcock start favourites as they look for a first European title to go with their World SuperSeries Final triumph in December.
The Adcocks will probably need to overcome French seventh seeds Ronan Labar and Emilie Lefel and then 40-year-old Mateusiak and Zieba if they are to reach the final. But Orleans International and Finnish Open winners Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak are unseeded and the Danes could be a real danger as they look forward to a potential quarter-final with Labar and Lefel.
Equally, European Games champions Niclas Nøhr and Sara Thygesen are No. 8 seeds and are expected to come through the draw to meet Mateusiak and Zieba in the last eight.
In the bottom half second seeds Fischer and Pedersen will expect to have Michael Fuchs and Birgit Michels to contend with in the last eight and Dutch third seeds Jacco Arends and Selena Piek in the semi-finals if the draw goes according to seeding.
But don’t overlook experienced Russian pair Vitalij Durkin and Nina Vislova, who would love to add to her 2010 gold and 2008 and 2012 bronze medals in women’s doubles with a first mixed doubles medal.
France have two other pairs to back up Labar and Lefel. European Games runners-up Gaetan Mittelheiser and Audrey Fontaine start against Croatia’s Igor Cimbur and Stasa Poznanovic with Arends and Piek their likely second-round opponents. Bastian Kersaudy and Lea Palermo take on England’s wild card pair Ben Lane and Jess Pugh with the winners of that contest likely to face Dukin and Vislova.
WHERE THE MEDALS WENT IN KAZAN 2014
1 Jan Ø. Jørgensen (Den)
2 Rajiv Ouseph (Eng)
3 Viktor Axelsen (Den), Vladimir Ivanov (Rus)
1 Carolina Marin (Spa)
2 Anna Thea Madsen (Den)
3 Karin Schnaase (Ger), Özge Bayrak (Tur)
1 Vladimir Ivanov & Ivan Sozonov (Rus)
2 Mads Kolding & Mads Conrad (Den)
3 Matthias Boe & Carsten Mogensen (Den), Chris Adcock & Andrew Ellis (Eng)
1 Kamilla Rytter Juhl & Christinna Pedersen (Den)
2 Marie Røpke & Line Kruse (Den)
3 Petya Nedelcheva (Bul) & Imogen Bankier (Sco), Selena Piek & Eefje Muskens (Ned)
1 Joachim Fischer & Christinna Pedersen (Den)
2 Mads Kolding & Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den)
3 Jorrit de Ruiter & Samantha Barning (Ned), Anders Kristiansen & Julie Houmann (Den)
You can watch the draw procedure on Badminton Europe’s Youtube channel by clicking here
Article by William Kings for Badminton Europe