Tough assignment for defending champion
2015 was a great year from the perspective of the organisers of the Norwegian International. A home winner on home soil thanks to Marius Myhre in men’s singles and the Norwegian number 1 will do everything in his power to repeat that win this week in Sandefjord.
This year the task is even tougher for Myhre (main picture) with a handful of 2016 winners making the trip to Norway and with the Karunaratne siblings sandwiching Myhre at 1 and 3 seeds a victory this year for the home hero is a tougher challenge than 2015.
Myhre has the trickiest of opening games against Finland’s Ikka Heino and should he get through that the first of many Danes awaits in the probably shape of Mikkel Mikkelsen. Nestled on the same side of the draw as Myhre are Rasmus Messerschmidt (DEN), Dinuka Karunaratne (SRI) and one of the form and improving circuit players this season Felix Burestedt (SWE)
If Myhre does manage to see of the challenge of these player the top half of the draw is packed with quality. Finland’s Kalle Koljonen, circuit winner Viktor Svensen (DEN) and a plethora of good Swedes will be itching to bring home the title and dethrone defending champion and second seed Myhre.
In the women’s singles Kate Foo Kune is top seed but Elizabeth Baldauf (AUT) showed decent form in Dublin last week at the mixed team qualifier and might have a win in her sights in Norway. Julie Finne-Ipsen is another with pedigree and if the Dane can manage the burden of mixing doubles with singles she will have a real shout a double gold this week.
Soby & Finne-Ipsen overdue a win
While seeded 3 in the women’s singles Julie Finne-Ipsen is top seed in the women’s doubles alongside Rikke Soby Hansen (pictured above). The Danes have been one of the most consistent pairs on the circuit but that big 2016 win still eludes them. The pair were runners up in Belgium and Ireland and this week in Norway will face a barrage of other Danish pairs all equally capable of taking home gold.
Both Boje sisters are on the same side of the draw as the top seeds albeit with different partners and the return of Sandra Maria Jensen who partners Isabella Nielsen will be worth keeping an eye on.
There is also a return to the circuit for Maria Helsbol, a prolific circuit winner in years past and any pair with Helsbol in it is always in with a shout of glory.
Like the women’s doubles the mixed doubles is odds on to provide a Danish winner. Prague Ooen winners Boje and Bay-Smidt will be clear favourites. It will remain to be seen if the young Danes are comfortable with being chased as opposed to being the chasers.
The men’s doubles will provide a very open competition and has the potential to throw up an unlikely championship wining pair. Aarnio and Heino are top seeds for Finland while the home nation will look to the Kristensen’s to cause an upset from their second seeding.
Indian duo Dewalker and Tarun are likely winners as are the Karunaratne siblings, the problem is at least from both pairs perspective, they are due to meet as early as the quarter final.
The action kicks on in Sandefjord on Thursday with qualification rounds with the finals scheduled for Sunday.
For all the draws from the 2016 Norwegian International click HERE
Article and archive images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe