Posted on 13th March 2023
German Open 2023 and All England Preview: Ingo Kindervater
BY RJ MITCHELL
ON the eve of the All England badminton championships, Ingo Kindervater has issued a glowing endorsement of why badminton’s most historic tournament continues to occupy a unique place in the sport’s consciousness.
The inaugural edition of the All England Championships was held in the Horticultural Halls in London way back in 1899 after an initial open event was played in Guildford 12-months earlier all of which makes the tournament badminton’s longest established championship.
Since then there have only been two breaks in play during World War 1 between 1915 and 1919 and again during the second World War between 1940 and 1946.
While for the years post-dating the first Thomas Cup series in 1949, until the International Badminton Federation established its first World Championships in 1977, the All England was regarded as the preeminent title thus positioning it as badminton’s unofficial world championship.
Reflecting on this week’s tournament, at which a strong Scottish entry will make a determined bid to make a positive impact at the Arena Birmingham, Badminton Scotland’s Head of Performance said: “The All England, putting the World Championships and Olympics to the side, is as big a tournament as it gets, rating wise it is a Super 1000 event and there are only five or six of these each year.
“Also the whole tournament and everything about it just oozes tradition, prestige and importance and every player knows that.
“If you listen to interviews with some of the most successful Asian players ever they always say that for them it was about winning World Championships, Olympic Games, the Asian Championships and of course the All England.
“So this is about how people look at it and they especially enjoy the tradition that comes with it and it is the most important European tournament of the year for sure.
“For our players the opportunity to take part in the All England gives them a special feeling there is no doubt about that.”
Yet sharing his memories from his own top flight career Ingo admits there is still a lingering sense of frustration when it comes to the All England.
The former European Championship doubles bronze medallist said: “I don’t think I ever made it past the last-16 and never managed to win multiple rounds at the All England but I have one very special memory.
“That came when my partner Johannes Schoettler and I beat the Korean pair Lee Yong Dae and Ko Sung Hyun in the first round in 2013 and they were absolute doubles legends at that time.
“So that was my absolute best memory and even although we lost second round that is a result I will never forget from my own career.”
Turning his attention to this week’s Scottish challenge Ingo has no doubt that the competitive court time banked at the Yonex German Open last week will prove to be a positive.
Focussing on the Women’s Singles Ingo said: “There is no such thing as an easy match in women’s singles and it is Carolina Marin in the first round for Kirsty (Gilmour) at the All England and she is four times world champion, Olympic gold medallist and probably the most successful player in history and that is Kirsty’s first round at Birmingham. So that is the perspective you must apply when talking about women’s singles.
“In Germany against Zhang Yi Man Kirsty ran out of energy a bit at the end mainly because since European Mixed Teams she was ill for almost two weeks and you could see she drained out of energy earlier than usual because of that.
“But the first set was crazy good and if she gets it all together Kirsty can compete with pretty much anyone in the world but Kirsty is right up there challenging these girls.”
Turning his attention to the Women’s Doubles Ingo said: “At the All England Julie and Ciara have a strong Japanese pair Fukushima and Hirota in the first round and that is as tough a challenge as it gets.
“For quite a while the Japanese pairs have set a very high standard and they have three or four pairs who are absolute world class in Women’s Doubles.
“This Japanese pair play a different style to the Malaysians and that will challenge our girls in some areas we want to improve on and so from that point of view it is a cool match to get.
“Last week in Germany in their second round they played the Malaysian pair Pearly Tan and Thinaah Muralitharan who are Commonwealth Games gold medallists, were seeded three and won the French Open last year.
“Despite that Julie and Ciara were up there challenging them and they are a world class pair and that was good to see. So it was a performance that gave us positivity for the future and this week.”
At the All England Adam Hall and Alex Dunn will be representing Scotland after the latter recovered from a hip niggle and Ingo said: “Adam and Alex play a Korean pair Gyu and Ho and that will be interesting as our boys have shown they can take on pretty much every one of that level but the Koreans are really good and they have made finals of Super 750 and 1000 tournaments.
“So they are a very consistent pair but don’t dominate you so that gives our boys the chance to see how they can compete at absolute world class level.”
At the German Open last week it was the Matthew and Chris Grimley who represented Scotland and Ingo reckons there were plenty of learning points to take from the tournament: “The Grimley twins did not perform at their best ability in Germany against the French pair Corvee and Labar. They had a really good start and then lost their rhythm and didn’t get it back and they know they can perform better than that.
“But the twins are quite clear on what they need to do and improve on and were working on this the next day already in good spirits.”
When it came to this week’s Mixed Doubles campaign in Birmingham Ingo was optimistic that despite a tough draw Adam Hall and Julie MacPherson can go deep: “It is a Dutch pairing Tabeling and Piek who are very similar to the French pairing (Giquel and Delrue) they played last week although not quite as consistent, and it’s another chance for Adam and Julie to see how they can compete at world class level,” said Ingo.
He continued: “Last week in the second round they met Giquel and Delrue who are one of the absolute flying European pairings at the moment and are No.5 in the world and have been very consistent in making quarter-finals and even further on World Tour tournaments.
“So Julie and Adam had a bit of a slow start and were down quite quickly and struggled to find the right rhythm but then they got that and were very competitive for the next one-and-a-half sets and it came down to just a few details. Now we need to get these details right to close that gap.”