Christie wins in Basel
Jonatan Christie won the BWF 2022 Swiss Open held in Basel, Switzerland
Following promptly after the All England Championship was the last tournament of the Badminton World Federation (BFW) World Tour’s European leg, the Swiss Open. In the Yonex Swiss Open 2022, which began March 22 and ended March 27, there were multiple big names missing, particularly from Asia, including Kento Momota, Chou Tien Chen, Lee Zii Jia, and All England runner-up Lakshya Sen, most likely forfeiting one European tournament in preparation for the tournaments in Asia. Viktor Axelsen fans may also have been disappointed by Axelsen’s retirement in his game on day two due to fatigue.
Although the Swiss Open is only a Super 300 tournament, granting significantly less prize money and less points to the cumulative ranking in comparison to the All England, for a lot of players, a win in these tournaments is crucial to qualifying for the BWF World Tour Finals at the end of the year. The World Ranking and World Tour Ranking differ, first of all, in that the former carries over points from the previous seasons while the latter only counts points earned in the ongoing season. Another important distinction that is often overlooked is that if a seeded player withdraws from the tournament in which they are seeded, or if they place lower than the previous year, they will be penalized with points deducted from the World Ranking. Therefore, the withdrawals of world number eight Sen, number five Low Kean Yew, number six Ng Ka Long, and defending champion Axelsen will also result in deduction of their World Ranking points.
At the quarterfinals, number three seeded player Anthony Sirisuka Ginting played a shaky first match, allowing his opponent Indian Sameer Verma to continuously find holes in his defense. In the second match, however, Ginting competed with keener judgment, finally demonstrating the sharp instinct that put him in the top 10 in the World Ranking. The game concluded with Ginting’s straight-set victory, 21-17, 21-14. World Ranking’s number three and second seeded player Anders Antonsen fell unexpectedly to Srikanth Kidambi, who before this victory had never won in their four encounters. Antonsen took a more aggressive approach at offense, winning him a game point opportunity, yet Kidambi’s cautious defense and Antonsen’s own miss moved the game into a deuce. Kidambi triumphed in two more rallies, advancing to the semifinals 21-19, 19-21, 22-20.
In the semifinals, H.S. Prannoy played a close game against Ginting 21-19, 19-21, and 21-18. In his 2021 season, Prannoy experienced defeats in early rounds in the All England Open and Swiss Open, dropping his eligibility as a seeded player in both tournaments and costing him most of his sponsorships. In All England 2022, he also fell to Thai Kunlavut Vitidsarn in two straight sets in the first round. The close matches played against an offense-dominant player like Ginting was a challenge for him to remain sharp at the receiving end. He persisted in long rallies, gradually tiring the Indonesian player. Fourth seeded Jonatan Christie of Indonesia defeated Kidambi 18-21, 21-7, and 21-13. The tight race in the first match overwhelmed Kidambi, and the consequent fatigue cost him six points in a row and lost him the second match. By the third match, Kidambi was overwhelmed by Christie’s fast-paced playing, losing another six rallies in a row.
In straight sets, Christie trounced Prannoy 21-13 and 21-18. Although both players are of similar heights, Christie had the advantage of speed and vertical jumping, granting him flexibility at defense and more options to organize an attack. Christie chose to play long rallies with difficult net shots to tire Prannoy in the first set, winning seven consecutive rallies and two match point opportunities. Prannoy fought back hard in the second match. After taking four rallies in a row, the Indian shuttler evened the score 13-13, earning a passionate applause from the audience. Nonetheless, Christie picked up the game pace once more, and Prannoy fell back once more. Despite his loss, Prannoy will be seeded second for the next Swiss Open. Christie wins his first Swiss title and his first title in three years.
One week from today, the BWF World Tour will move from its European to its Asian leg, beginning with the Korea Open Championships, a Super 500 tournament. Playing back-to-back intense matches at the German Open and the All England Open, a number of Asian players withdrew from the Swiss Open as mentioned previously, possibly for a break and to better prepare for the upcoming series of high-points-earning tournaments in Asia. However, Chou Tien Chen and Loh Kean Yew tested positive for COVID-19 after the All England Open. While badminton fans in Korea have been eagerly waiting for the tournament to be rebooted after being disappointed by COVID-19’s delays in the past two years, the Korea Open Championships 2022 may not end up with a full roster draw due to the absence of COVID-stricken shuttlers.