Opportunities a plenty for European success at the Yonex Dutch Open
The 66th edition of the Yonex Dutch Open kicks off in Almere this coming week and represents a huge opportunity for European success after Asian dominance on finals day in the 2013.
The home nation will look to Eric Pang to shine in the men's singles while Piek and Muskens will carry the hopes of the home support in women's doubles.
Revitalized Pang hungry again for success
Dutch veteran Pang will hope to build on his superb performance from the Copenhagen world championships in August where he reached the quarter finals. Pang had thought about quitting the game for good on the run up to the worlds but a new lease of life fuelled by his performance in Copenhagen will make the Dutch veteran one of the players to beat in Almere.
A decent draw with an opportunity to ease his way into the tournament, Pangs first real test will most likely come in the third round where classy Italian based Indonesian Indra Bagus Ade Chandra awaits, that is of course if the Italian gets by beaten finalist from 2013 Yan Kit Chan. Pang was a memorable victor of the Dutch Open in 2012 and will hope that sleeping in his own bed might act as a catalyst to repeat that performance in 2014.
England's Rajiv Ouseph is installed as top seed for the tournament in what has been a disappointing season for the English number 1 and second seed Brice Leverdez of France will look to bounce back from the disappointment of losing in the first round of the Czech International a tournament which he was favourite for the title.
Mixed chances for Dutch pairs on home soil
The mixed doubles represents a major opportunity for home success with Selena Piek and Jacco Arends leading the attack. European bronze medallists Barning and De Ruiter will look to continue to close the gap on their compatriots but both Dutch pairs will have to overcome a strong world top 20 Indonesian challenge to lift the title on Sunday.
Women's doubles represents the golden opportunity for a home win and Piek and Muskens will feel the need to prove themselves more than a flash in the pan and add a hotly contested Grand Prix victory to their 2014 resume after dominating all before them on the circuit in 2013. It has been almost a year since the Dutch duo lifted the Bitburger GPG and Scottish Open GP and even with a host of circuit titles to their name since there is sure to be a sense of urgency about their play as they strive to prove themselves as elite world players not just elite Europeans of which there is no doubt.
As with the mixed doubles the main threat to Piek and Muskens success will come from a strong Indonesian contingent travelling to the Netherlands but that is a challenge the Dutch will relish as it is Asian opposition they need to prove themselves against.
Europe versus Beiwen Zhang for women singles honours
Beiwen Zhang, the American based Singaporean who plays her club badminton in Germany is the hot favourite for the women's singles title. Zhang is already a proven GP and GPG winner after lifting the US Open and Brazil Grand Prix's earlier in the summer. Coupled with her European experience it will be up to the best of Europe to try and prevent the American from winning her first European based Grand Prix.
Up for the challenge will be German veteran Karin Schnaase and with Bulgaria's Stefani Stoeva and Sashina Vignes Waran of France in support team Europe will be in no doubt about the task ahead of them as they try to match the Americans sheer speed around the court.
Europe will hold all the aces in the men's doubles as Poles Cwalina and Wacha look to add to their endless list of victories but at a lower circuit level it must be said. Adam Cwalina is a previous winner of the Dutch Open in what was a crucial part of his Olympic qualification in 2012 and the Poles will feel overdue a GP victory as they step up a level in Almere this coming week.
Indonesian opposition will offer a stiff test for the Polish top seeds and the German duo of Josche Zurwonne and the highly talented Max Schwenger are edging ever closer to the big breakthrough and who knows maybe this week in Almere will be there week.
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