Photo credit: Barcelona Spain Masters
Denmark was represented in three finals, Japan in two where one was an all-Japanese clash, and then the best men’s double player ever – according to many – made a perfect comeback to the badminton circuit. The finals of Spain Masters in Barcelona had several things to offer today.
The day started with a top women’s double between the world’s number 9 and 12. This was luxury for the Spanish spectators who are not used to seeing players of this level playing the tournaments in Spain. World Champions Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara from Japan (seeded 1) were up against compatriots Ayako Sakuramoto and Yukiko Takahata (seeded 2) who had won the only previous encounter between the two pairs.
In the final today it was the World Champions who were in control. After a few points for each pair to get familiar with the conditions in the arena, Matsumoto and Nagahara quickly gained a lead of 10-3. Sakuramoto and Takahata did manage to come back a little but never managed to close the gap completely. The first seeded duo bagged first game 21-17.
Second game was even up to 6-6 before Matsumoto and Nagahara once again put themselves in a favorable position after 10 points on two serves. From 15-9 there was no doubt this final would be settled in straight games and after 43 minutes the first champions at Spain Masters had been found. Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara won 21-13 and added USD 11,850 to their total prize money with this title. And then they leveled the head-to-head statistics with their compatriots to 1-1.
Thai stats destroyed
In men’s single we also saw the best of the best – the number 1 seeded against number 2. Top seeded Suppanyu Avihingsanon from Thailand had expectedly qualified to the final via pure straight games victories and he was facing Danish youngster Rasmus Gemke. And the Dane managed to destroy some of Avihingsanon’s statistics from Spain Masters.
Suppanyu Avihingsanon had good control of first game where he was just one small step in front of Gemke most of the way. The two were fairly close up to 13-12 for the Thai and with a few good streaks at the end he bagged first game 21-15.
Things were completely turned upside down in second game where Rasmus Gemke rocketed off to a 5-0 lead before the Thai scored his first point. The Dane went to interval at 11-4 and had no problems in destroying Avihingsanon’s nice statistic with only straight games wins; second game was won by Gemke with 21-6.
The third decisive game was once again a closer affair. Rasmus Gemke was once again leading at interval and side change but moments later it was 11-11. Everything was open. But only one could win… and that was the Danish youngster who only needed the serve three times to win the last ten points. Third game finished 21-14 for Rasmus Gemke who can celebrate his second international title with USD 11,250 and a push in the right direction on the world ranking.
Explosive Danish start
Women’s single was between Danish Mia Blichfeldt, who won a dramatic semifinal against compatriot, friend and training partner Line Kjærsfeldt yesterday, and Minatsu Mitani from Japan. First time the two met each other was at German Open last year where the Japanese won in three games.
Today Blichfeldt had an explosive start of the match. 8 consecutive points for the Dane gave her a very comfortable lead of 10-2 and when she got another streak of 5 points moments later first game was basically settled. Mitani was shocked by the powerful start from her opponent and lost the game 9-21. Something had to happen in second game if the Japanese wanted the title in Barcelona.
And something did happen. Second game seemed as taken from a completely different match as it was nothing like first game at all. Minatsu Mitani had much more control and she and Blichfeldt delivered an extremely close game. The Dane even had two match points at 20-19 and 21-20 but the match went into three games as Mitani set it a 3-point streak and took the game 23-21.
The decisive game was a true copy of first game. Several series of consecutive points led to 4-0, 9-2 and 14-3 and there was no doubt of who would win. Opposite first game it was not Mia Blichfeldt who was leading though – it was Minatsu Mitani who outplayed her Danish opponent in the last game of the match. The Japanese girl claimed the title at Spain Masters with 21-8 in a match that lasted just under an hour.
More Danish success
So far Denmark had had won one final and lost one. They had another shot in the mixed double final between Niclas Nøhr/Sara Thygesen and Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith from England. The Brits were top seeded and the Danes seeded 4. It looked very much like the English pair would take first game as they brought themselves to a comfortable lead of 19-14. But Nøhr and Thygesen finished with an amazing 7 consecutive points making it 21-19 for them instead.
In second game the two pairs followed each other all the way. The largest gap between them was 3 points, but it was all even again at 11-11 and 14-14. Here the Danes pulled away for a moment but Ellis and Smith came back to 17-18, still with hope in their rackets. But once again the Danish duo was stronger. Niclas Nøhr and Sara Thygesen won another three points, won the match 21-18, and won the title at Spain Masters – their second international title in three finals this year.
LYD is back!
Lee Yong Dae – the biggest name to play in Barcelona this week – made his comeback to the badminton circuit at Spain Masters with partner Kim Gi Jung. The two were in the men’s double final against Bodin Isara and Maneepong Jongjit from Thailand in the first ever encounter between the two pairs.
The Korean duo hadn’t lost a single game on their way to the final and things also started out fine for them in first game of the final. They quickly got a 4-0 lead but Isara and Jongjit closed the gap and it was all even up to 9-9. Here Lee and Kim slowly but steadily pulled away from their opponents and took first game 21-13.
Second game was an interesting affair where hopes were high for the Thais when they were leading 14-12. But 6 consecutive points to Lee and Kim basically closed the match. The Koreans won 21-17 and concluded a perfect week in Barcelona with the title in Spain Masters and all matches won in straight games. Lee Yong Dae and Kim Gi Jung can share USD 11,850 in prize money and LYD can celebrate a perfect comeback!