A steller line up for Wales’s premier tournament.
After the Scottish Open GP last week, the run around the British Isles continues this week with a trip to Cardiff for the Welsh International. With many circuit regulars electing to play Finland or Hong Kong last week this week’s Welsh International has no such competition which is clearly reflected in the draws.
In comes talent such as Mateusiak & Zieba in the mixed doubles, Beatriz Corrales, Pablo Abian and Brice Leverdez in singles which is sure to intensify the race to the podium come Saturday.
We learned a lot from Scotland last week and in particular the strength of new GB pairing Peter Mills and Adam Hall (pictured above). The new combo were unlucky losers in last Sunday’s final in the Emirates Arena and on form will be the pair to beat in Cardiff.
The English/Scottish combo will also have the added motivation of getting ‘back on the horse’ after being unsaddled in the Scottish final and with all stars aligning this could be the week for Mills and Hall.
In a strange twist of fate the main competition to Hall & Mills may come from another English pair, Nottingham and Towler. They too showed glimpses of form in Scotland and lest we forget they won the title in 2014, their first as a pair.
History suggests that an English combo will win the men’s doubles as GB & English pairs have won every year in Cardiff since 2010.
Abain seeking a Welsh hat trick
Pablo Abain (pictured above) returns to Wales this week searching for a hat trick of titles. The Spanish number one won in 2010 & 2013 so if the stats line up the Spaniard is on target to win again in 2016.
Brice Leverdez will offer a big threat to the Spanish ace and form players such as Kieran Merrilees, the 2014 champion, will look to build on some good vibes from his home tournament last week.
Like Abain, Beatriz Corrales is back after a short trip to Hong Kong. The Spaniard, a previous winner in Cardiff, will be chasing a run of games to put a poor show in Asia out of her mind.
Scottish finalist Sabrina Jaquet like Mills and Hall will be working to banish the Glasgow blues and Jaquet is seeded to meet Corrales in the final, which if it did come about would be an ever tougher match that her Sunday game against Mette Poulsen.
The Welsh themselves have options with Aimee Moran and Jordat Hart. Hart may surprise on home turf after pushing Chloe Birch to three games last week.
No end in sight for Mateusiak and Zieba
We would have been forgiven for assuming that post Rio, Robert Mateusiak and Nadia Zieba (pictured above) would have hung up their rackets. They have been there, done that, worn the T-Shirts and won the medal.
Maybe there is a sense of unfinished business as the Poles have never won in Cardiff or maybe they just feel why stop as we are still at the top, I think the later. English pair Nottingham & Smith are not far away from a circuit while Lane & Pugh have adapted to senior life like ducks to water and also within a hairs breath of a big success.
In the women’s doubles, there is a welcome return to circuit duties for top seeded Russian duo Morozova and Chervyakova and if seeding runs to plan they should face off against Nedelcheva and Mitsova in the final, and what a final that would be.
The action kicks off on Wednesday in Cardiff and to view the draws for the 2016 Welsh International, click HERE
Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe