AIG FZ FORZA Irish Open 2023: Chris Salutes Career Best Victory

By RJ Mitchell

CHRIS GRIMLEY has described victory in the AIG FZ Forza Irish Open as the finest hour for his partnership with twin brother Matthew Grimley.

The Scots confounded the recent form book to defeat red hot Danish duo Andreas Sondergaard and Jesper Toft 22-20, 16-21, 21-17 in an epic three set final on Saturday night at the Sport Ireland National Indoor Arena.

This impressive victory, over a pairing who had recently made the semi-final of the Hylo Open and won the Belgian International title earlier this year, rounded off a superb tournament for the twins who failed to drop a set in any of their previous four matches.

Reflecting on a career best week Chris admitted his delight and he said: “Yes, I would have to say this is our career best win. We have had a bit of a dry spell in terms of winning titles recently and this was just our second title after the Scottish Open in 2021, so it was really nice to win the Irish and we are delighted with it.

“Sondergaard and Toft got a semi-final at Hylo and beat a few top pairs recently plus they also beat us at the Scottish Open so it was really nice to get revenge.

“Going into the match we knew it was going to be tough with the form they are in as they had also won the Belgian a couple of months back as well, so we knew how strong they were and that is as good a win as we’ve had.”

When it came to the key to their success Chris explained lessons had been learned from the previous meeting with the Danes at the Emirates Arena and he said: “The first set was 22-20 and although we were up early in the second they turned it around and they wouldn’t go away.

“Then in the third set we were up again but unlike at the Scottish, where we blew an 11-6 lead in the third, this time we kept it going, learned from that, and got over the finishing line.

“Also our first three shots were good and we served exceptionally well this time around. At the Scottish they really got on top of our serves but this time we didn’t let that happen.

“But we also returned well and just stayed really solid and kept our errors to a minimum so all round it was just a really solid performance and one where we showed we had learned from the match with them at the Scottish which is always nice.”

Taking an overview of the tournament as a whole, Chris admitted that he and Matthew had particularly savoured the consistency they produced throughout their week long stay in the Irish capital: “100% in terms of our consistency and the level we played at throughout, that was as good as anything we have produced.

“We played really well the whole way through and didn’t drop a set until the final which was very pleasing. We played a very good German pair (Jones Jansen & Kenneth Neumann 21-10, 21-5) in the second round and we beat them comfortably.

“So that was another pleasing aspect of the week and that also gave us a lot of confidence going into the final.

“Really looking back at the week we have got to be very happy with it and now we just need to make sure we build on this.”

The Grimley’s victory was made even more impressive by the fact that Chris revealed he had been carrying a foot injury throughout the tournament and he said: “So, I hurt my left foot a couple of weeks back and I’ve had some irritation in the joint so nothing serious but with painkillers and ibuprofen I got through it.

“But we flew back Saturday night and we have had Sunday and today off which is nice as it has been a tough week but a really good one for Matthew and I.”

With a bumper 4,000 point rating haul, the twins, currently No.56 positioned, will also be climbing the BWF world rankings this week as they chase their target of a world top-32 place: “For International challenge it is 4,000 points but even with that we are going to struggle to qualify for the Olympics as it’s GB, and the English have a good pair ahead of us, so that is going to be tough and this year that isn’t our big goal.

“Our ranking had dropped down to mid-50s recently so this will boost us up a good few spots and that is really important.”

Next up for the Grimleys is next week’s Welsh Open and Chris is determined there will be no drop off in standard and he vowed: “We have the Welsh Open next where we are in the No.3/No.4 seed bracket and we need to be trying to make semis or final there as well.

“But the belief we have taken from this week is tremendous and the Danes are seeded No.1 for the Welsh and on the opposite side but now we have to just worry about ourselves.

“We know we can beat these guys and we need to prove this is no one off.”

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