April 2008 All News
Robertson out to regain European title
NATHAN ROBERTSON finally got a taste of the action at the European Championships in Herning, Denmark tonight.
Robertson (Notts) and Gail Emms (Herts) are the top mixed doubles seeds and 2004 winners but were surprise early losers in 2006. Make no mistake – they want their title back.
The Olympic silver medallists and Commonwealth champions, who had a first-round bye, began with a comfortable 21-13 21-13 second-round win over Denmark's Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen.
At the same time on an adjoining court, second seeds and national champions Anthony Clark (Notts) and Donna Kellogg (Derby), who were runners-up to Robertson and Emms in the 2006 world final, were getting their title bid up and running with a 21-12 21-7 win over Belgium's Frederic Mawet and Severine Corvilain.
For good measure England's Edinburgh-born Robert Blair (Leics) and Scotland's Imogen Bankier (Glasgow), the sixth seeds, were just as quick in disposing of Anthony Dumartheray and Sabrina Jaquet 21-14 21-10.
England's Yorkshire pair of Robin Middleton and Jenny Wallwork put in a double shift to join the big names in the third round. They followed up a good 21-14 21-11 win over Dutch pair Jorrit De Ruiter and Ilse Vaesen followed by victory over Germans Michael Fuchs and Karin Schnaase 21-18 21-16.
Robertson said: "I had a bit of an ankle problem recently. It flared up before the team event so they decided not to play me until the final. But sadly the match was settled before I could get on court against Denmark last night. I would like to have played in the team event because I enjoy that kind of competition.
"But I suppose it means I'm fresh for the individual event and this was a good workout. Fischer Nielsen is one of Denmark's top mixed doubles players. He would have been going to the Olympics but for his usual partner getting injured.
"I think they may have fancied their chances against us. They had probably heard I'd had a bit of an injury but it was fine today.
Robertson is confident he can recapture the title he won in Geneva when he and Clark also took men's doubles silver. But he is aware that his close friend will feel he's in with a shout as well. "It would be great for English badminton if we can get both pairs through to the final. But I feel Gail and I are a match for any pair in the world when we are at our best."
The last time they won this title, Robertson and Emms went on to win their Olympic silver medal.
Emms is also chasing the women’s doubles title. She and Donna Kellogg are the top seeds and holders – Kellogg also won it in 2000 with Joanne Goode – and they will start their bid tomorrow (Thurs).
Andrew Smith, meanwhile, had a stern workout against Poland’s Rafal Hawel before reaching the last 32 with a hard-fought 21-18 21-17 win
National champion Rajiv Ouseph (Middlesex) was in late evening action and the 14th seed battled his way past Henrik Toth of Hungary 21-14 18-21 21-13.
But Nathan Rice (Bucks), the 2007 Nationals runner-up, fell to second seed Przemyslaw Wacha 21-9 21-12 and the Polish star is the likely third-round opponent for Richard Vaughan.
Earlier in the evening session Commonwealth golden girl Tracey Hallam (Staffs) got her women's singles bid off to a solid start with a 21-18 21-7 victory over Agnieszka Wojtkowska of Poland. That put her into the second round along with Jersey’s national champion Elizabeth Cann and Essex prospect Sarah Walker, who won in the morning session – with Rachel Howard (Herts) unlucky to be the only England casualty.
To follow the results check out www.tournamentsoftware.com
Wednesday early play
THREE-TIMES English National champion Elizabeth Cann was among England's first winners on day one of the European Individual Championships in Herning.
The 27-year-old from Jersey (pictured) was a member of the squad which won the silver medal in the team event last night.
But the 16th seed in the singles wasted no time getting down to business, despatching Germany's Janet Koehler 21-15 21-7 in just 24 minutes in their first-round match.
The Jersey player, ranked No 25 in the world and the leader on the women's singles table on the Badminton Europe circuit, will now face Belgium's Nathalie Descamps in tomorrow's second-round.
But a win there would mean a second match later in the day in the last 16, almost certainly against France's top seed Pi Hongyan, the Yonex All England runner-up in 2007.
Joining Cann in the second round was Essex prospect Sarah Walker, who was an even quicker winner against Estonia's Karoliine Holm. Her 21-11 21-11 19-minute win earned her a second-round contest with Iceland's Ragna Ingolfdottir, who caused the first upset by knocking out ninth seed Agenese Allegrini of Italy 19-21 21-16 21-15.
The one disappointment for England in the opening session was the defeat of Rachel Howard.
But the 23-year-old was up against 14th seed Kati Tolmoff, who had beaten Scotland's Commonwealth bronze medallist and 11the seed Susan Hughes in the team event. But Howard made her work for her 21-13 21-17 win.
In the men's singles two-time former National champion Aamir Ghaffar of Middlesex won his opening match 21-19 21-15 against Misha Zilberman, the Israeli player who is amazingly through to the last 16 of the mixed doubles with his mother Svetlana without playing a match, following a bye and a walkover.
England have the top two seeds in the mixed doubles with former champions Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms and Anthony Clark and Donna Kellogg. The two pairs are in action for the first time around 4pm UK time.
But England had Yorkshire's Robin Middleton and Jenny Wallwork in action in one of the opening contests in a 99-match first-day programme.
The team squad members gave England an immediate boost in spirits by beating Dutch pair Jorrit De Ruiter and Ilse Vaessen 21-14 21-11. That earned them a second-round match with Michael Fuchs and and Karin Schnaase.
For results and live scoring check out www.tournamentsoftware.com