Posted on 23rd May 2023
By RJ Mitchell
CHRIS GRIMLEY believes that a semi-final run for his partnership with brother Matthew at the I Feel Slovenia Yonex Open has provided a solid return to the fray after the Grimley’s May training block.
Although the Scots were seeded No.1 and cut an impressive swathe through the draw to the last four of the International Challenge event in Maribor, Chris and Matthew were edged in a three-set encounter by the new Malaysian pairing of Jimmy Wong and Lwi Sheng Hao 22-20, 20-22, 10-21.
Poring over the detail of that defeat, Chris admits that there is a lingering frustration that the second set slipped out of their grasp although his overview of the campaign at the Centre Draš yielded plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
The co-ranked World No.42 men’s doubles ace said: “It was hard in the semi-finals as we felt like we could close it off in two sets but just came up short. We had to save a game point in the first before winning it 22-20 and although we didn’t get a match point in the second set it was there to be one before we lost it on the tie-break.
“In the third they got a really good start to lead 5-0 and one of their guys, Jimmy Wong was really sharp at the net and managed to get the lifts from us which allowed his partner to attack and particularly in the third set that was the difference. Really we had to lift too often and Jimmy just controlled it for them of that.
“They are a new partnership and they have been around before and are excellent players but the other pair in the final are also qualifiers and that just shows you the strength in depth of these Asian players.
“So I guess we just needed to be that bit more clinical when it was tight, particularly in the second set with the Malaysians at 20-20 we needed to take a risk and really challenge them and go for it that bit more.
“That said we did take the first set on the tie-break so there was very little in it but next time around I think that wee bit more aggression may make the difference.”
Yet with the Grimleys positioned at No.42 in the BWF World Rankings there is every chance that their weekend run to the semis in Slovenia could take them inside the top-40 when the new global ratings go up this week.
All of which, as Chris explained, is vital to the bigger picture: “You get good points for the semi-final of an International Challenge, yes we were hoping to make the final as we had been semis in Poland, and of course you want to take that extra step which would really make a difference in terms of ranking points.
“In this respect we’d had a chat with the coaches and we decided that for now the International Challenge Tournaments are better for getting the wins, maybe taking some titles, and just building momentum.
“If we can get a tournament win that would be great as a springboard to the Super 500 we will be playing in Canada and the US Open which is a Super 300.
“But our next competition is another International Challenge at the Denmark Masters on June 8 and then it is on to the Nantes International Challenge in France. So hopefully June can give us the wins we need.”
Yet with three fine victories garnered from their trip to Central Europe, Chris was satisfied with the partnership’s work and he said: “In the first round we had a Slovenian/Austrian pair and we won in straight sets which was a solid start and then we knew the Danish pair in the second round would be tough as we had lost to them previously two years back in Belgium.
“They were both European junior champions and will be a big pairing in the future so that was a good win and then in the quarters it was another hard match against the German pair and it was great to win that in straight sets after being game points down in the second set.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t quite get over the line against the Malaysians in the semis but I feel like the Slovenian Open has really allowed us both to build on a good training block and we now have good wins under our belts, were pretty consistent throughout the tournament and this all gives us a solid platform into the next events in June.”
Also competing in Slovenia was Scotland No.1 Kirsty Gilmour who was seeded No.1 in the women’s singles where she lost a tough second round encounter with India’s Tara Shah in a match that hinged on a second set tie-break which Kirsty lost before being edged 21-17, 20-22, 14-21.
Earlier in the women’s qualifiers Rachel Sugden had excellent victories over Belgian and Swiss opposition before being pipped in the final round by Japan’s Shiori Ebihara 21-19, 16-21, 20-22 in a cliff-hanger of an encounter.
Meanwhile Scottish interest in this week’s Perodua Malaysia Masters (Presented by Daihatsu) began with Julie Macpherson and Ciara Torrance who fell just short against the Chinese Taipei pairing of Chang Ching Hui and Yang Ching Tun in the first round of qualifying (14-21 16-21).
Adam Hall and Alex Dunn will also be in action later this week for the BWF Super 500 event in Kuala Lumpur.