Zvonimir Durkinjak will have his fingers crossed this week on home soil in Zagreb as he attempts to put a disappointing start to 2016 behind him and kick start his year with good performance’s in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.
Durkinjak (main picture) had set his sights on a possible Olympic singles spot back at the beginning of the season and when he finished runner up to Marc Zwiebler in Prague the signs certainly signalled that Rio was very much on the cards. Since then however things have not gone to plan with a series of first round tournament exits scuppering his personal Olympic dream. Form is temporary however and even as fifth seed this week on home soil the stars just might align and if the Croat did win it would be a welcomed return to form and justify his undoubted talent.
Marius Myhre is top seed and the Norwegian is hovering right on the edge of Olympic qualification with just a handful of tournaments remaining. Myhre will most likely need to win this week, in the future series rated tournament, to boost his Olympic chances with a maximum of 1700 points on offer.
England’s Sam Parsons will be looking to add to his victory at the Hatzor International and as second seed, with no home or Olympic qualification pressure, the wise money might just be on the English man to succeed this week.
If singles and fatigue lets Durkinjak down there is doubles and mixed to fall back on and the decision to forego the opportunity for an easy win with long term doubles partner Zvonimir Hoelbling is certainly an interesting talking point.
Durkinjak partners Filip Spoljarec in men’s doubles while Hoelbling teams up with Igor Cimbur in the same event with both pairs representing genuine medal opportunities in Zagreb.
Mitsova with form to upset seeds in Zagreb
The home nation will also harbour an outside chance of podium success in the women’s singles with Dorotea Sutara as fourth seed and youngster Katarina Galenic in the field. Top seed Elena Komendrovskaja (RUS) has the credentials and power to steamroll the rest while Hantz (SUI), Zaitzava(BLR) and Martens (DEN) have the experience to get them through sticky situations.
Nestled in the field is Bulgarian Mariya Mitsova (pictured above in Orleans just two weeks ago) who impressed in Orleans two weeks ago at two levels higher as well as being a vital part of the Bulgarian team that achieved a silver medal in Kazan in the European women’s team championship. Mitsova will be one to watch this week in Croatia for sure and the destination of the gold medal might just hinge on the possible second round match between the Bulgarian and the top seeded Russian. The match will certainly indicate the form of both.
The action in Zagreb kicks off tomorrow Thursday with qualification rounds.To view all draws for the 2016 Victor Croatian International click HERE
Article and Images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe