Day 1 of the 2017 All England was also day one of the last World Superseries season with this structure – 2018 will see a whole new set of tournaments with increased prizes. France had a good day in Birmingham with both Brice Leverdez and Delphine Lansac qualifying for the main round.
By Raphael Sachetat, live from Birmingham. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)
It was a pretty decent day in terms of crowds in the Barclaycard Arena. Many tournaments around the world would love to have so many spectators on qualification day. It was mostly students in school uniforms, local players’ families or club mates, but not only.
Most of all, there was that special feeling that the tour is really on the run again, for its last year in this format, which has been running since 2007. Still, there were new features like the giant screen set up on one side of the arena.
A last minute withdrawal from Jonatan Christie had the organizers redo the qualification draw on Tuesday morning before the matches started. It was good news for France – who had two players called from reserve – and for Anders Antonsen, who was promoted to the main draw where he will meet his compatriot Viktor Axelsen, for an appealing first round match.
The French, led by coach Peter Gade, had a good day in singles. Brice Leverdez and Lucas Corvée (pictured) each won their first match in style. Leverdez beat the young and rising star from Germany Fabian Roth, to whom he had twice lost in the past, while Corvée, the two-time National Champion, took care of Korea’s Jeon Hyeok Jin.
The two French men then met up for what looked like a revenge of the 2016 French National Championship, where Corvée had beaten Leverdez after 8 consecutive titles. This time, Leverdez showed he was still on top on the international scene and played better the points that mattered, eventually clinching the match 21-19, 21-19. He will get to meet Lee Chong Wei today, for a rematch of the Denmark Open where the French veteran had surprised the world #1.
Delphine Lansac (pictured), the young French national champion in women’s singles had a surprisingly easy day for her debut in the prestigious All England. The 21-year-old beat back-to-back Lee Chia Hsin (the top seed in the qualification round) and Lyanny Mainaky, who had no answer to Lansac’s last minute deception shots and good attacking game. Lansac won both matches in straight games to set herself a first round meeting with Germany’s Fabienne Deprez, also a qualifier.
“I’m really happy with my game today. I was able to add the things Peter [Gade] and I had been working on for the past few months. It’s a great feeling to play that well here in Birmingham for my first time,” said Lansac.
French Performance Director Gade was all praise for the French champion: “I knew she had that kind of level in her, but to make it happen here, in this Hall, it’s different. I was impressed.”
Other players to enter the main draw are Fontaine Chapman, Nathalia Koch Rhode from Denmark while the men’s singles saw Zhao Junpeng (pictured bottom), Anthony Ginting and Kasumasa Sakai perform well enough to get to play with the big guns on Wednesday.