A new beginning for one of Europe’s oldest tournaments
After Scotland and Wales over the past two weeks the circuit jumps across the Irish sea this week for the annual Irish Open a tournament that has been in existence since 1902. The Tournament had its spiritual home at the Baldoyle Badminton Centre over the past number of years but this year moves to the new National Indoor Arena in Dublin as the very first event in the new arena and signals a new beginning for Ireland’s premier badminton event.
Christiansen & Thygesen set to upset home favourites
Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen and Sara Thygesen (main picture) are past winners of the Irish Open albeit with different partners over the past two years. The Danes find themselves as fifth seeds for the tournament but as a relatively new pair those in the know will have them ear marked as hot favourites to lift the title.
Ireland’s home top pair, Sam and Chloe Magee, are the top seeds and the siblings are certainly benefiting from Chloe’s decision to concentrate on mixed doubles for the foreseeable future. The Irish will have to perform at their very highest level this week to lift their home title and while the Danes are on the opposite side of the draw pairs such as Seidel/Efler (GER), Bond/Soby (DEN) and Beck/Nelte (GER) will be gunning for the Irish in the top half.
Germany indeed have a trio of top pairs in the draw with Herttrich and Lamsfuss as second seeds but all will need to keep an eye over their shoulders for form pairs such as Kaisti/Nystrom (FIN), Mittelheisser/Lefel (FRA) and Maas/Van Der Aar (NED).
Distinct opportunity for Evans to cause an upset in men’s singles
Scott Evans (pictured above) as always will carry the weight of expectation for Irish singles success. The Dubliner has fallen outside the world’s top 100 in recent weeks but his leadership and form in Dublin 3 weeks ago, during the mixed team qualifier was enough to suggest the game is still robust and in with a shout this week.
A decent draw finds Evans in the side of the draw of the underperforming top seed Hsu Jen Hao who has been struggling the past two weeks. The biggest threat in the top half of the draw could come from Emil Holst (DEN) or Welsh winner Pablo Abian (ESP).
Evans would not be scheduled to meet either until the semi-final and if he can navigate his was that far in the tournament the Dundrum man will be in the form that can take him to the title. Kieran Merrilees (SCO), Fabian Roth (GER) and Brice Leverdez (FRA) are in the bottom half and we can expect one of these three to make the final.
In the women’s singles it is hard look beyond a Danish winner with Kjaersfeldt, Koch Rohde, Poulsen and Blichfeldt all eyeing the top step of the podium.
Russians odds on to go back to back
Olga Morozova and Anastasia Chervyakova’s (pictured above) success in Cardiff last Sunday was long overdue. The Russians have not over extended themselves this season and will be relatively fresh coming into the Irish Open this week. If they can navigate a tricky opening match against Brown/Walker (ENG) or Surrow/Van Zaane (DEN) then the draw opens out for the Russians and a final appearance should be routine.
In the top half of the draw Finne-Ipsen/Soby (DEN) will be contenders after runners up spot last year with Seinen/Tabeling (NED) also starting to look comfortable and the business end of circuit tournaments. The Dutch also have young pair Van Der Aar and Jille who have taken to senior life like ducks to water and could feature heavily this week.
Ireland will hope Sam and Joshua Magee can progress a long way in the men’s doubles with European U17 bronze medallists Nguyen & Reynolds also stretching their muscles at senior level. In reality the winners may come from a handful of other and Colberg/Fladberg (DEN), Mittelheisser/Labar (FRA) and Hall (SCO)/Mills(ENG) may have the arsenal to take the title this week in Dublin.
Badminton Europe will be on hand with multi court streaming from all 6 courts with the action kicking off Wednesday morning HERE
To view all draws for the FZ FORZA Irish Open click HERE
Article and images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe