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German Open: Stiff Challenge for Europe's elite in Mulheim

The Yonex German Open has been a traditional stop off for the top Asian players en route to the All England.

The 2013 edition of the Grand Prix Gold rated tournament has once again drawn a large Asian contingent as they warm up for what lies ahead in Birmingham.

China and Korea have dominated the top step of the podium in recent years in with Europe’s only success coming in the mixed doubles where Danish Duo of Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl won in 2012 and the previous year Robert Blair partnered Gabby White to victory.

Once again the two great Asian nations have sent strong representation to Mulheim and Europes best will have a tough time once again breaking the dominance of the travelling Asians. The host nation Germany will fancy their chances in lifting some silverware but a lot will depend on the mind-set of their elite players after winning the 2013 European Mixed Team Championships last week in Russia.

As always Juliane Schenk has potential to lift the title but the world number four has had three weeks of intense travel after featuring heavily in the Indonesian league before jetting to Russia as part of the victorious German national team. A demanding schedule by anyone’s standards which just might play its part in some intense battles that lie ahead.

Marc Zwiebler too had a demanding schedule in Russia playing each and every singles match and an opening match against Denmark’s Christian Lind is sure to have its fair share of extended rallies. A potential quarter final against top seed Chen Long awaits the European Champion but if Zwiebler makes it that far he will be ready and shaken off the Russian cobwebs.

World junior champion Kento Momota is also on the Germans side of the draw and a spell in Europe in January is sure to have been advantageous to the young Japanese shuttler who comes to Germany full of confidence on the back of a pair of wins in Sweden, Estonia and Austria.

Europe will fancy their chances of success in the men’s doubles however Russian duo Vladimir Ivanov and Ivan Sozonov are due to play Europe’s other best chance in the men’s doubles Mads Conrad and Rasmus Bonde as early as round two. Chris Adcock and Andy Ellis will be buoyed by their victory over Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen last week and on paper look a good bet to be Europe’s last pair standing as they push up the world rankings.

Women’s doubles sees the welcome return to tournament play of Russia’s Olympic bronze medallists Sorokina and Vislova who have a tricky opening match against Bulgarian sisters Gabi and Sisi Stoeva. England too will hope to upset their Asian opponents as Gabby White once again teams up with young player of the week from Russia, Lauren Smith and the unlikely duo of Olver and Robertshaw will look to cause an early upset against second seeds Eom Hye Won and Jang Ye Na of Japan.

The mixed doubles is flush with outstanding Asian talent but with all things considered, and as per previous years, the mixed event probably represents Europe’s best chance of success come the medal ceremonies on Sunday 3rd March.

Ivanov and Sorokina look to be a complete pair and joining them in the top half of the draw are Danish Veterans Julie Houmann and Anders Kristiansen. Denmark will also look to Kolding and Juhl to advance their fledgling partnership and Polish second seeds Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Zieba will be fresh after a light tournament schedule after a week off due to Poland’s non participation at the European mixed team championships. The Poles had a good run to the semi-final at the Malaysian Open and Germany has been good to them as recently as last November when they got to the final of the Bitburger Open GPG. The form of the European Champions will come under an intense test as early as round one where they will play Vislova and Durkin but good tournament management is sure to have benefited the Poles as they strive to extend their tournament career at the very highest level.

Badminton Europe will be in Germany and will stream all the action from selected courts on BETV.

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