French mixed reshuffle sets cat amongst pigeons
The weeks Spanish International represents the first International Challenge rated tournament on the Badminton Europe circuit since the end of the Olympic qualification campaign at the beginning of May.
For some the Olympic campaign in now but a distant memory and already the winds of change are evident and nowhere more so than in Madrid this week. With France failing to qualify either of their top two mixed doubles pairs for Rio the cycle has come full circle as both Mittelheisser/Fontaine (main picture left) & Labar/Lefel (main picture right) have been split with Gaetan Mittelheisser now partnering Emilie Lefel and Ronan Labar teaming up with Audrey Fontaine.
What this effectively does is throw the cat amongst the pigeons this week in Madrid as both pairs look to make their mark on the circuit. All mixed pairs will be wary of the French as no matter who they are partnered with the French are sure to effect the outcome of gold this week.
Favourites will of course be top seeds Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak (pictured above), the Danes who are multiple circuit winners over the past 12 months. A potential quarter final against Mittelheisser and Fontaine will give a good indication as to the form of both.
There is a welcomed return to the circuit for Sam and Chloe Magee after their Olympic quest fizzled out around Christmas and the Irish as second seeds have a relatively easy draw to the semi-finals.
Danes out to test Pablo on home turf
Pablo Abian (pictured above) comes into his home international as top seed and in the middle of his Olympic preparation phase. The Spanish number 1 travelled to Asia for the Indonesian Super Series and on home soil this week will look to prove his credentials as clear Spanish number 1.
Fighting to topple the Spanish veteran will be a host of Danish singles players including Emil Holst fresh from his Thomas Cup success with Denmark, the rejuvenated Rasmus Fladberg and the new kid on the block and multiple winner this past year Anders Antonsen.
Antonsen is in the same half as Abian and due to meet at semi-final stage. Fladberg and Holst are due to meet as early as the quarter finals and should any slip up players like Yuhan Tan and Henri Hurskainen will look to capitalize.
Milan based Corrales most likely with a point to prove
Spain’s Beatriz Corrales (pictured above) has turned over a new leaf and is now based in Milan where she will train and work outside of the Spanish national centre. Corrales comes into this week as top seed in the women’s singles and like all the home athletes will look to put on a good show.
The past year has been tough for Corrales but she is a fighter and will be out to prove a point this coming week. The Likes of Chloe Magee, Natalia Perminova and Lianne Tan will be fine tuning their game ahead of the trip to Rio in August while the real threat to Corrales might come from Denmark’s Anna Thea Madsen and Mette Poulsen.
In the women’s doubles all eyes will be on the Dutch/English combo of Cheryl Seinen and Jessica Pugh. As second seeds they will be the ones to watch but with some Japanese pairs in the field it will be a tough task for all the European pairings.
Finally, in the men’s doubles top seeds Christiansen and Daugaard draw the eye but don’t be fooled by the numbers. Watch out for Nohr and Antonsen another excellent Danish pair while the unseeded Eidestedt and Ruponen will look to build on their Orleans international win and may be a realistic outside bet for the title.
All the action kicks of tomorrow Thursday from Madrid and to view the full draws click HERE
Article and archive images by Mark Phelan