Men’s singles top heavy with talent
Date: 4/1/2014 11:35 AM
Published by : Manuel Røsler
As we draw ever closer to the European Championships in Kazan this week’s Finnish Open represents the last opportunity for Europe’s elite circuit players to hone their game at International Challenge level ahead of the trip to Russia.

The Energia Arena in Vantaa, just north of Helsinki, is once again host to Finland’s premier badminton event and the home crowd will certainly be hoping that Ville Lång (pictured) has managed to shake off an injury scare and lift the title that has eluded him in a career that has yielded 12 international wins to date.

The Finnish number one is top seed for the event which starts on Thursday but with a draw that has been less than kind to Europe’s character of the courts, Lang will need to arrive in the arena focused and ready from the outset if he is to lift his home title.

A first round tie against Sweden’s Mattias Borg is sure to test Lang, the winner of the Swedish Masters in January, and Borg will know that if there is a good time to play Lang it is most probably in the first round where his guard just might be down.

You do not have to look far to find players with qualities to trouble the flying Finn, with Emil Holst, Andre Kurinawan Tedjono, Petr Koukal, Rasmus Fladberg and Scott Evans all in the top half of the draw and looking for blood.

Henri Hurskainen will be looking for a run of games as he prepares to go to Kazan in defence of his silver medal from two years ago. The Swede will surely cherish a final against his Finnish friend after his defeat in Sweden in January where Lang saved a fistful of championship points to win in what has been the comeback of the year to date.

Danes back to defend mixed title

This time last year the names of Anders Skaarup Rasmussen and Lena Grebak hardly rolled of your tongue with ease and as a pair were pretty inconspicuous as a European mixed doubles combination. One year on they are one of the pairs to beat on the Badminton Europe circuit and their rise to fame began in Finland this time last year.

The 2013 edition of the tournament represented the beginning of a remarkable run for the Danes where they followed up Finnish success with wins at events in Denmark, Spanish and Belgian for a crazy four in a row.
The Danes go to Finland this week as the marked pair but will look to Finland once again to set their 2014 campaign in motion after a poor start to the year. The Danes will be happy with their draw and Swedish pair Nordh and Lennartsson will offer the biggest challenge to the Danes and that will not come until quarter final stages.

Irish pair Sam & Chloe Magee will be looking to get close to an International final which has eluded the consistent but not overly successful Irish while all eyes will be on Russian duo Kargaev and Bolotova in the bottom half of the draw. The Russian were the pair involved in the ‘hand of god’ incident in France last week where the video of the shot has gone viral on YouTube.

Rasmussen will fancy double doubles chances

Anders Skaarup Rasmussen will also fancy his chances in the men’s doubles alongside Kim Astrup Sorenson. The Danes should and will be hot favourites to lift the title on Sunday but a complacent performance in Orleans last week will leave Skaarup and Astrup feeling fragile.

Astrup in particular will relish the opportunity to go back to Finland as the Energia Arena was the scene of his European Junior mixed doubles gold in 2011. And beware the wounded lions as the Danes will have a point to prove in Finland this week.

Just as the Energia Arena has been good to Astrup in the past, English pair Nottingham and Coles will be taken back to their win in that same European juniors and will be keen to add a senior title in the same arena. Others to watch will be Daugard and Christiansen from Denmark and Scottish duo Campbell and Machugh will benefit from a bye in the opening round.

Wide open Women’s singles

As the big hitters on the European circuit take a rest this week the opportunity opens up for the nest of the rest to claim the Finnish title. Kristina Gavnholt has not won since Czech International in 2012 and second seed Chloe Magee will hope to build on her All England performance where she reached the last 16 and was the highest placed European at the world’s premier event.

In truth a close and respectful eye will have to be kept on the Danish contingent with Line Kjaersfeldt and Sandra Maria Jensen now rightfully considered a potent force in senior singles badminton. European junior champion Stefani Stoeva also travels to Finland but one wonders will a recent heavy schedule make Finland one step to far for the quiet Bulgarian.

In the women’s doubles Kruse and Røpke are yet again top seeds for a challenge event but it is a long time since they won one. The opportunity for the Stoeva sisters will hinge on Gabriela’s recovery from a thigh injury sustained in Orleans last week and Turner and Thomas from Wales will look to exploit any weakness in both pairs.

All the action will be live on BETV this week to watch login on Youtube by clicking HERE

For full Finnish Open draws click HERE

Article by Mark Phelan
© All rights reserved.

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