Friday, April 19

Tine sends another signal to Chinese


Dane wins European Championships crown for first time

MANCHESTER: Tine Rasmussen, the only women’s singles player in the past decade to deny the might of China, signalled her intention to do that again after winning the European championships for the first time here Sunday.Rasmussen, who last month regained the All-England Open title from the top-seeded Wang Yihan, added the European title by beating Juliane Schenk of Germany 21-19, 14-21, 21-18 with a display which hinted she has a new-found adaptability.

But the Dane also suggested that this triumph can be a stepping stone to her first world title, either in Paris in August, or in London next year when she might complete a triple of major titles in England.

“I feel at home here,” Rasmussen said. “I have good memories here. It’s like a second home. I can feel spectators helping me and it would be wonderful to win a world title here as well.”

Rasmussen’s victory over Schenk, who had halted the top-seeded Pi Hongyang in the semi-finals, was also a victory over herself.

Injuries and lack of matches left her short of the movement and intensity to get her best shot, a big booming smash, into the rallies very often. She even claimed that she came to the tournament not expecting to win the title.

Instead Rasmussen relied on other skills – thoughtful net play, accurate clears, disguised lifts, and tactical changes. But at times it left her infuriated that she could not play the way she likes.

“I wanted to play my game but I didn’t have the speed,” she said.

“I got angry again, but I had to control myself. And I had to fight.”

Rasmussen also had more experience of a big final than Schenk, who played a faster, more explosive game, also looking the more likely winner up till leading 17-12 in the first game.

But she could not answer Rasmussen’s adrenaline-filled push as the finish line came in sight.

Later Rasmussen’s compatriot Peter Gade regained the men’s singles title and won it for a fifth time.

The former world number one produced by far his best performance of the week while overcoming another Dane, Jan Jorgensen, 21-14,21-11.

The speed of Gade’s defence was lightning quick, and his ability to turn defence into ambushing attack often breathtaking.

There was just one sequence when it seemed Jorgensen might make a serious challenge, when he moved into a 6-2 lead in the second game.

A lengthy argument ensued after Gade got back to 5-6 with a shot which Jorgensen thought had landed out.

A spectator yelled that it was out, and Jorgensen bellowed “exactly!” before contesting the call with the umpire.

That resulted in a yellow card, which some of the spectators booed.

“I thought the shuttle was in — that it was a correct call,” said Gade later.

“But I didn’t think it should have been a yellow card.”

Denmark won four of the five gold medals.

The first went to Thomas Laybourn and Kamilla Rytter Juhl who took their first title since becoming world mixed doubles champions in Hyderabad eight months ago, now winning 21-19, 18-21, 21-12 against Robert Mateusiak and Nadiezda Kostiuczyk of Poland.

Remarkably Laybourn, who was so brilliantly fast that he was once able to drop his racquet and pick up a spare in the middle of a rally and continue with it, wore a shirt emblazoned ‘I need a sponsor’.

It illustrated one of the problems which some leading athletes have in a sport which is still developing its Super Series circuit.

“There are hundreds of millions of TV viewers out there in the Super Series, so surely there must be someone interested,” the world and new European champion pleaded.

Valeria Sorokina and Nina Vislova became the first Russians ever to win a European title when they took the women’s doubles with a 21-18, 21-14 win over the top seeds, Petya Nedelcheva of Bulgarian and Anastasia Russkikh, another Russian.

But the triumph was offset by the fact that they may now be stranded in the United Kingdom for an extra week — not only has the Icelandic volcanic ash has grounded them but their visa does not enable them to travel overland through countries other than the UK. — AFP