Pang takes down Leverdez in thriller
Date: 4/17/2012 5:28 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler
Before even a shuttle was hit at this year’s European Championship the match of the first round in the men’s singles was always going to be the matchup between Eric Pang (The Netherlands) and Brice Leverdez (France).

Both players certainly delivered a thrilling encounter in a match that had everything from excitement to skill with some drama thrown in for good measure. Leverdez got off to the best of starts taking the opening set and if the first set body language was anything to go by Pang looked dead and buried.

But the Dutchman has been around long enough to appreciate the important of playing in a major championship and he turned the match on its head taking the second game even if it took him three attempts at set point.

The third game was tense throughout and there was really nothing between both men. At 20-20 Pang rushed forward to play an easy net kill but the umpire deemed him to hit the net where he clearly touched the net well after the shuttle had hit the floor. Pang was not at all happy with the decision which effectively handed the Frenchman match point but displayed all his vast years of experience to regain his composure, even taking a drink when the umpire asked him to return to court.

The Dutch number one then rattled off three points in a row to take the match 23-21 to advance to a second round meeting with Viktor Axelsen. “I have prepared well for this tournament even though some of my results have not been that good recently but I have been on the losing side in some close matches. I have a tough draw here and even after beating Brice (Leverdez) I now have to go and face Viktor Axelsen but I know I will go into that match full of confidence as I have played Viktor a few times and always had close battles” said Pang to Badminton Europe.

Axelsen himself made a very brief appearance on court in his first round match and took just 20 minutes to defeat Anthony Dumartheray in two games. In the women’s singles first round action witnessed the first minor upsets as Anu Nieminen went down in three sets to Swede Ellinor Widh. Nieminen had a first round exit last week at the Dutch International and things certainly did not improve this week for the Finnish number one.

Belgian 20 year old Lianne Tan defeated up and coming Turk Ozge Bayrak in two sets in front of the Badminton Europe TV cameras. The every smiling Belgian was delighted with her win as she strives to make a quarter final in her attempt to reach the qualification standards set out by her home Olympic committee.

“This is a very important win for me. The Olympics is always at the back of my mind but after achieving a quarter final last week in Peru I am happy the way my game is progressing and yes it is a good feeling to win here at the European Championships” said a very happy Lianne Tan to Badminton Europe.

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Article and image by Mark Phelan (Live in Karlskrona)
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