Circuit

Intriguing mixed doubles on the cards
Date: 1/19/2016 11:48 AM
Published by : Mark Phelan
For the third consecutive year Uppsala, just one-hour north of Stockholm, plays host to the Swedish Masters with a host of athletes vying not only Olympic qualification points but to also get their name on one of the most unique trophies on the Badminton Europe circuit. 

The Swedish Masters represents the first big test on the circuit each year as an international challenge (€17500 USD) rated event and this year in Uppsala a battle royal will rage in the mixed doubles as some of the best pairs in Europe look to outgun each other on the road to the Rio Olympics. 

As top seeds for the event Robert Mateusiak (pictured), now at the example leading age of 40, and his partner Nadia Zieba will be hotly tipped for the title after coming through the second half of 2015 from a virtually zero ranking to sit pretty at number 18 in the world as Rio looms ever closer. The Poles won their last outing in Turkey before Christmas and will look to start 2016 as they ended 2015.

Russian pair Vitalij Durkin & Nina Vislova (pictured below on podium in 2015) are world ranked 22 and will be the Poles biggest threat in Uppsala this week. The Russian will have a tough opening match in the tournament’s second round where they will player the winners of Grebak/Christiansen (DEN) or Barning/Tabeling (NED), the winner of which will have had court time under their belt before the match with the Russians. 



French pair Mittelheisser and Fontaine are on the same side of the draw as the Russian second seeds with Danish pair Antonsen and Madsen a real threat should any of the seeded pairs slip by the wayside. 

Like the Russians the Polish top seeds will have an interesting second round match after a bye in the opening round with Chambly club mate Bastian Kersaudy and partner Lea Palermo looking to exploit any first game cobwebs from the Mateusiak and Zieba as they try to build on their form from last week in Estonia.

The Poles will most likely have to get by 2015 Baku European Games champions Nohr & Thygesen (DEN) at the semi-final stage which all leads to a mixed doubles of intrigue and what is sure to be top quality badminton in Uppsala. 

Tough assignment for Hurskainen on home turf

Once again local player Henri Hurskainen will shoulder much of the home hopes for success. The Swedish number one is getting back close to his best after shaking off a series of injuries and will hope to go one better than the dramatic final in 2014 where he lost out to friend Ville Lang. 

Hurskainen is unseeded and will play one of the form circuit players from the back end of 2015, Marius Myhre of Norway, in the opening round. A second round against top seed and defending champion Rajiv Ouseph awaits and the winner of that first round will fancy their chances against the English number one who has spent most of January in India playing the Indian premier league. With Raul Must and Emil Holst in the top half of the draw it will be a tough ask for Hurskainen to make the business end of the tournament. 

French number 1 Brice Leverdez is seeded two and will enjoy the easier side of the draw, if there is an easy side with the likes of Lang, the winner in Estonia last week, Persson, Malkov and Zavadsky lying in wait and what price Anders Antonsen winning from qualification? The European junior champion did it in Belgium and followed up with a win in Ireland in December so why not do it again!

Karin Schnaase comes into 2016 on the back of a good win in Turkey at the end of 2015. The German top seed will also benefit from the withdrawal of Natalia Koch Rhode, one of the form players of 2015. Line Kjaersfeldt will probably be the favourite as 2016 should represent a major opportunity for the Danish number 1 to push towards the world’s elite. Estonian winner Lianne Tan will bring the fight to Kjaersfeldt in the bottom half of the draw and Olga Konon will feel there is a golden opportunity to get 2016 off to a perfect start after an impressive 2015. 

A close eye will be placed on both Beatriz Corrales (ESP) and Sashina Vignes Waran (FRA) as both look to 2016 as an opportunity for some kind of rebirth after personal disappointments in 2015. 

Denmark & England the ones to watch in Doubles

Both Denmark an England send fancied pairs to Uppsala in the men’s and women’s doubles. Kim Astrup & Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (pictured below winning in 2015) will be hotly fancied to retain their title as they step back to international challenge level after a year mixing it with the big boys at Super Series. In their way will be Briggs/Wolfenden & Ellis/Langridge from England while French pair Kersaudy & Mittelheisser will look to capitalise on and errors from the seeded pairs.



Like the men’s doubles Demark and England will once again have the fancied pairs in the women’s event with Brown and Robertshaw hoping to go once better than their runners up spot in 2015. Lauren Smith & Heather Olver are the highest ranked pair outside of American top seeds Obanana & Lee while Danish fourth seeds Thygesen and Fruergaard will be fancied to lift the title on Sunday. 

For all draws for the 2016 Swedish Masters click HERE

The tournament gets under way on Thursday with qualification rounds and you can watch all the action Live on Badminton Europe’s youtube channel. Just click HERE

Article and Images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe


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