Danish qualifier steals the show
Date: 3/29/2015 3:33 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler
Natalia Koch Rhode (pictured) was the unlikeliest of heroes on semi-finals day of the 2015 Orleans International by claiming two big scalps on her way to her first final since battling back from injury which kept her out of the game for almost a year.

The tall Dane has had a lot of court time this week in Orleans after coming through qualification and her victory over Germany’s national champion, Olga Konon in the quarter final served to fuel her desire to put her terrible injury interrupted career behind her.

Konon had two match points but Rhode’s renowned fighting spirit frustrated the German who was unable to settle in the deciding set as the Dane booked her semi-final spot. Rhode crowned a fantastic French super Saturday by going on to beat defending champion Beatriz Corrales in the semi-final to finally put her injury nightmare behind her.

“I was out for a year after breaking my foot twice so to come back and win these two big matches today is a great feeling” said Rhode. “I am tired of course as it has been a long week but I hope now to really bring my best to the final and like always I will fight and do my best”

Rhode will now face off in tomorrow’s final against Soraya De Visch Eijbergen after the Dutch number one beat Hera Desi of Indonesia in two games.

Rejuvenated Zavadsky outwits Merrilees in a classic

Semi-finals day in Orleans is always special and the 2015 edition proved no different. Top seed Andre Kurniawan Tedjono overcame Ville Lang in the earlier of the two men’s singles semi-final but the best of the action came in the match between Ukraine’s Dmytro Zavadsky and Scotland’s Kieran Merrilees.

Zavadsky had suffered a dramatic loss of form recently with a semi-final at the 2014 Scottish Open GP being his most recent best result. Merrilees on the other hand has shown flashed of brilliance over the past months after his move back home to Scotland.

The Scot took the opening game and looked to have the match under control at 18-18 in the second game but Zavadsky stole and march and the momentum to take the match to a deciding set winning three points in a row.

The final game had the large Orleans crowd on the edge of their seat as the ‘ohhhh’d and awwww’d at some of the magical play in energy sapping rallies. The turning point came at 18-18 when the Scot was forced to dive cross court to retrieve a Zavadsky smash and in doing so grazed some skin from his racket hand leaving him virtually unable to hold the racket.

The Ukrainian seized his opportunity and took the final three points needed to make his first final of 2015 in an action packed 75 minute men’s singles semi-final.

“To win a match like that is uplifting as Kieran played fantastic. It was a great match to be part of and more so it is a welcome return to some form for me as it has been a while since I played so well in a tournament” said a happy Zavadsky after his win.

French hopes dashed at semi-final stage

In what was a war of attrition on Badminton Europe’s streaming court the last French players standing fell in the women’s doubles semi-final as Lansac and Lefel went down to top seeds Stefani and Gabriela Stoeva from Bulgaria.

The French girls got off to the best possible start winning the opening game as the stuttering Bulgarian world number 14 pair struggled to find any traction. The calm demeanour of the Stoeva's shone through in the end as they cruised to the second game 21-7 before out pacing the French in the third game to advance to the final.

The Bulgarians will now Heather Olver & Lauren Smith in the final after the English duo defeated Lena Grebak and Maria Helsbøl in two games.

Article & Image by Mark Phelan (Live in Orleans).
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