This year’s 65th edition of the Yonex Dutch open was billed as the big ‘back to back’ opportunity for two players as defending champion Eric Pang was the home favourite to retain his 21012 crown while new kid on the block Tian Houwei from China was attempting to add the Dutch Open to his impressive win at the London Grand Prix last week.
It was not to be for both fancied players as Chinese wonder kid Tian Houwei looked a shadow of the player that lifted the title only three days ago in London while Pang, coming off the back of a heavy defeat in the Danish league just the previous night, was clearly off his game as he went down in three sets against Gabriel Ulldahl of Sweden.
Favourites fall at first hurdle
The Dutch top seed looked almost a bit disinterested in his match against Ulldahl and the Swede himself found it difficult at times to keep his level high and maintain focus.
“Eric looked tired and appeared to be somewhere else and not on the court especially in the deciding game which made it difficult for me to keep focused”
Ulldahl eventually came through 21-10 in the final game and Pang looked as disinterested leaving the court as he did for the second half of the final set.
“It was a strange match in the end and I knew coming into the game that Eric had a Danish league match last night so might be feeling the effects of that. All that said I am happy with my game and the way I played and that is my only focus” said Ulldahl after the victory.
Tian Houwei however was dealt a tough draw against eight seed Yan Kit Chan and looked sluggish after his London exploits in losing the opening set 21-13. The Chinese, who also won this year’s Australian Open, fought hard in the second game but could not match the power of his opponent eventually losing out 22-20 and with it a premature end to his Dutch Open.
Lianne Tan: “I honestly thought I had lost the game"
In what was one of the matches of the day Belgium’s Lianne Tan (pictured) came back from the dead to beat Switzerland’s Nicole Schaller in a match that the Swiss girl should have wrapped up in two games. Schaller was 1 set to the good and 11-5 ahead in the second game and looked to have Tan in her pocket as she controlled all the rallies.
With the pressure off and nothing to lose the Belgian, now living in The Netherlands and studying fulltime, started to relax and play shots that had eluded her for the entire match. Slowly but surely Tan broke the stranglehold of Schaller and used her excellent net game to her advantage to level up at 1 game all.
With the momentum in her favour The Belgian Olympian matched Schaller shot for shot in the deciding game before coming away the unlikely winner 29-27 in the deciding game.
“I honestly thought I had lost the game mid-way through the second set. With that I just relaxed and started to play better and in the third game I felt in better shape mentally than Nicole and that took me through”
Irelands Chloe Magee fought off two match points against Ukraine’s Maria Ulitina to book her second round berth while there was disappointment for Sashaina Vignes Waran in her first appearance on court as a French national going down in two games to Hera Desi of Indonesia.
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Article and Image by Mark Phelan (Live in Almere)