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16 October 2023

The VICTOR Denmark Open provides an exciting challenge for players to bank crucial Olympic qualification points in the race to Paris 2024, says Badminton England Performance Director Morten Frost. 

Three English doubles pairs are involved and no shuttler knows the tournament quite like Frost, who won the Denmark Open in his home country eight times in the 1980s.

Ben Lane and Sean Vendy will fly the flag in the men’s doubles while Greg and Jenny Mairs, along with Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith, enter the first round of the mixed doubles in the Super 750 event.

Frost knows the draw will be one of the tougher challenges on the circuit but is confident of a strong showing, despite some illness which has curtailed preparations within the squad. 

“It’s always exciting when we have the Super 750 tournaments,” Frost said. “It’s great when we have these really tough ones. 

“It’s even more exciting the fact that it’s in the Olympic qualification period so it’s got a lot of attention. 

“Everybody is out there trying to get points in order to qualify so it’s a tense race. 

“From England, we only have three entrants in and the mixed doubles pairs have two very tough draws.” 

Greg and Jenny Mairs will face top seeds Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong in the opening round, Olympic silver medallists at Tokyo 2020.

The Mairs pair will be looking to bounce back following defeat to Malaysia’s Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing at the CLASH OF CLANS Arctic Open powered by YONEX last week. 

Smith and Ellis will have a similarly tricky task on their hands at the Arena Fyn after being drawn to fifth seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai. 

The Yonex Belgian International winners downed Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai in the group stage at Tokyo 2020 and will be out to cause a similar upset in Denmark. 

“Both pairs are facing seed no.1 and seed no.5, two very established top pairs,” Frost said. 

“Marcus and Lauren beat Puavaranukroh and Taerattanachai at the Olympics and got to the quarter-final, which was an excellent result for the two players. 

“It is a tough task at the moment, in the world rankings they are 29 and Greg and Jenny sit at 34. 

“At this moment in time, they are a bit far out of qualification so we need to start clocking up some good results.” 

Should Ellis and Smith get over the first-round hurdle, they will face either Denmark’s Mathias Thyrri and Amalie Magelund or Malaysia’s Chen Tang Jie and Toh Ee Wei, the same pair they lost 21-14 21-17 to last week at the Arctic Open. 

After making the last-16 of the Arctic Open last week, men’s doubles pair Lane and Vendy come up against a relatively new Chinese pairing in Chen Bo Yang and Liu Yi. 

Should they make it past the first round, Lane and Vendy will face top seeds and world number two pairing Muhammad Rian Ardianto and Fajar Alfian of Indonesia.

The England duo sit favourably in the Race to Paris as they target a good run through to April 2024, when qualification will be finalised.

Despite the prospect of coming up against the top seeds, Frost believes the experience of defeating Alfian and Ardianto at the Singapore Open in September will serve them well.

“The pair they play in the first round in Denmark is a relatively new pair, they sit in 35 in the world ranking,” Frost added. 

“They’ve lost quite a few first rounds in their tournaments so it should be a possibility to beat that pair. 

“But then they would be up against the top seed from Indonesia. 

“That’s a tough one but we have beaten them before, even when they were the world no.1, so it is definitely possible.”

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