Circuit

Big chance for Ville & Anu on home soil
Date: 3/28/2012 8:58 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

The Finnish Open returns this year after a break in 2011 after the staging of a very successful European Junior Championships. This year’s Open takes place in the same venue as last year’s Juniors, the impressive Energia Arena in the Helsinki suburb of Vantaa.

Not only does the home nation have a rich balance of good juniors coming through in the form of players such as Airi Mikkela and Jenny Nyström but they have a real chance of some silverware come Sunday through Ville Lång and Anu Nieminen in both singles events.

Lång, mister consistent this season on the Badminton Europe circuit, with a host of quarter finals, semi finals and wins in both Estonia and Italy is sure to find an extra gear at his home event. Lång can frustrate players into submission mentally and as second seed he will fancy his chances given his recent consistent form.

However, the Finn has a tough draw with a first round encounter with Irelands Scott Evans who is still not 100% sure of Olympic qualification after a self confessed less than successful year to date. If he manages to get by Evans, Fladberg, Atrashenkov, Koukal and number 3 seed Eric Pang are all lying in wait before he even makes it to a prospective final with top seed Rajiv Ouseph of England. So if Lang does make the podium come Sunday he will have been a worthy medallist after beating some of those names.

On the other side of the singles fence there will not be as much pressure on Anu Nieminen in the women’s event but when you look at the Finn’s form last week in Poland where she took eventual winner Ai Goto to a cliff-hanger of a third set that is surely evidence enough that Nieminen is bringing a good game to her home event. The big factor here might be Anu’s continuing struggle with injury and she was visible struggling and grimacing with pain in Poland last week. But fingers crossed for the experience Finn that she can deliver her ‘A’ game for her home tournament.

The men’s doubles looks likely to head for another Poland vs Russia showdown with the Russian pair of Sozonov and Ivanov clear favourites to lift the tile after their easy win in Poland last week. Adam Cwalina and Michal Logosz just cannot seem to take the Russians down and will have to find a new strategy if they want to lift the title this week.

The women’s doubles might finally see the American pair of Obanana and Lee lift a European title after so many runners up spots. There have been a few top name withdrawals including Olver and Agathangelou amid rumours that the top English pairings have now been split up to form new partnerships.

And in the mixed, Adcock and Bankier return to action after skipping Poland and with the withdrawal of Robertson and Wallwork really the world champion silver medallists should cruise to the 4000 world ranking points on offer.

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Article by Mark Phelan, Image by BadmintonPhoto

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