Ludik keeps home hopes alive
Siblings Kristina Gavnholt and Milan Ludik entered their home tournament today with genuine chances of going far on home soil. Gavnholt seeded 7 had a tough opening match against one of the best unseeded players, Lianne Tan of Belgium while Ludik was underdog against 8 seed from Sri Lanka, Niluka Karunaratne.
Milan Ludik (main picture) got the siblings off to a great start beating the animated Sri Lankan in two games to the cheers of the home supporters. The new Czech number 1 beating Karunaratne in two games 21-19 21-17. Ludik will fancy his chances in round two where he will meet qualifier Pierrick Cajot of France for a place in the quarter finals.
While Ludik set the ball rolling for the home singles players that momentum came to an abrupt stop shortly after as Gavnholt (pictured below) tumbled out of the competition to Lianne Tan. The Belgian number 1 was in inspired form beating Gavnholt in two games 21-13 21-17.
A total of 5 qualifiers made it through qualification and the first round proper of the women’s singles where Russian Evgeniya Kosestskaya was the most impressive beating her compatriot and number 5 seed Natalia Perminova to make the second round.
In the men’s singles last week’s winner Viktor Svendsen continued his run of good for coming through qualification and adding the scalp of Erik Meijs to his growing collection of higher ranked victories.
Top seed Pablo Abian got a scare eventually scraping through in two games against German Alexander Roovers while Fabian Roth continued his rehabilitation and return from injury easing through qualification and round one to set up a second round tie with Ukrainian Olympian Artem Pochtarev.
Dutch youngsters coming of age at senior level
Debora Jille and Imke Van Der Aar (pictured below) only found out at the last minute that they had made the qualification draw in the women’s doubles due to withdrawal. The Dutch pair had to rush to Prague, play two women’s doubles qualification matches which they duly won to make the main draw.
As luck would have it the Dutch then found themselves settling into the vacant slot in the main draw receiving a bye to the quarter final and judging by their performances over the past few weeks on the senior circuit appear to have what it takes to establish themselves on the senior circuit over the coming season.
Elsewhere team England continue their experimentation with new pairings and as it stands it seems to be whoever gets an opportunity to partner Lauren Smith ends up going a long way in the tournament. Smith’s partner this week is Sarah Walker and the English came through comfortably to take their opening first round match 21-17 21-17 against the experienced Russian Ekaterina Bolotova and new partner Alina Davletova.
There was also an impressive victory for newlywed Petya Nedelcheva alongside her Bulgarian partner Mariya Mitsova while in the men’s doubles there was a positive start in a new chapter for Adam Cwalina as the Pole lined up alongside Milosz Bochat to make the second round with a victory over Madsen and Pedersen of Denmark.
For all results from today’s play at Forza Prague Open click HERE
To view a photo gallery from Prague, click HERE
To watch the action on demand from court 1 click HERE
Article and images by Mark Phelan (Live in Prague)