(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Day one: Full of surprises
Date: 1/27/2021 5:37 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
We are underway for the 2020 season finale with day one of the BWF World Tour Finals. There were upsets, redemptions and some standout high-level performances. Let us go through them. 

Anders Antonsen has had a mixed few weeks in Bangkok. Having blanked in the opening week, he reached the semifinal last week, only to miss out on the final through a loss to fellow Dane, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus. This week was yet another chance to show what he is capable of. 

Facing India’s Srikanth Kidambi, things did not get off to the best of starts. Losing the opening game 21-15, Antonsen was up against it. He was able to grind his way to a 16-10 lead in the second game, only to allow his opponent back in at 16-15. This seemed to spark something in Antonsen who quickly secured the win 21-16.

-I just kept working to get focused and found my rhythm. Then Srikanth began to make a little more mistakes and that was important for me, Antonsen explained. 

The deciding game turned into a bit of a back and forth slog. Antonsen was hanging on until finally gaining the lead for the first time at 18-17. Giving everything he had left, he was able to get the win 21-18 after one hour and seventeen minutes. After the match, Antonsen expressed the fight he needed to get over the line. 

-I was struggling again. It was a great fight as we were very equal in level today. I think both of us fought well and it was a good match. 

His compatriot, Viktor Axelsen, has not been having the same fight for form, after once again defeating Anthony Ginting, this time in a clinical two-game match ending 21-17, 21-8. 

Ginting after the match gives his thoughts on why Axelsen has been playing so well in Thailand.

-Viktor has not been making many of his own mistakes. The shuttle is very slow, so this is a good opportunity for him because he has a good posture so he can cover the court very well. 

Top of the English doubles tree
The reigning European Games gold medallists, Denmark Open champions and Olympic silver medallists, Marcus Ellis/ Chris Langridge have been at the top of the ‘English doubles tree’ for many years. However, there is a pair climbing high on this tree and it is beginning to sway. 

Sean Vendy, who plays with Ben Lane, stated that playing at the BWF World Tour Finals has been a dream for him and as a pair, they are making the transition to playing at this level. Today, they confirmed their upward progression after playing Ellis/Langridge in group A. 

Following a number of tight matches in the past, they took a win at the 2019 Kharkiv International. Today they were able to deliver the same again with a 22-20, 21-15 victory, only being behind on the scores for four rallies throughout. Afterwards, Lane emphasised the importance of that first game. 

-The opening game was so tight from 18-18, so for myself and Sean, it was really important to get that first game, because they know then in the back of their mind they have to play. The first game was something like 30 minutes, so they have to play at least an hour extra to win. Especially for Marcus as he has to play later on today. 

-We know that if we can keep the gap small, the pressure is all on them because we already have a game in the bag, Vendy added. 

The young pair now face double Thailand Open champions Lee Yang/ Wang Chi-Lin. 

Don’t stop them now
The clear surprise package of the Asian leg has been the French mixed doubles duo of Thom Gicquel/ Delphine Delrue who are having a good time in Bangkok. After a strong display in the previous weeks, they entered the finals as fourth seeds. Playing the number eight in the world, Hafiz Faizal/ Gloria Widjaja, they were forced to come from behind to deliver a well-fought win. 

The opening game had a feel reminiscent of their loss to the Indonesians at the All England Open last year. However, they showed that they have another gear now and were able to bounce straight back into a decider and they did not stop. At 19-11, things were looking really good, however, they had to fend off a five-point surge from Faizal/ Widjaja, but got over the line at 21-17. 

-We were really stressed at this point because it is never easy to win with a big lead like that, Gicquel jested. 

Marin continues run
The flawless Marin continued her run in Thailand with a win over Russia’s Evgeniya Kosetskaya, in a repeat of the 2018 European Championships final. Kosetskaya found a nice rhythm in the middle of the opening game, leading 16-14, but Marin ultimately closed out the game, 21-19. Stepping up, the Spaniard took the second game to 14. 

Marin faces Canada’s Michelle Li tomorrow, while Kosetskaya plays An Se Young of Korea for the first time. 

For the full results and fixtures, click here

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