By RJ Mitchell
BULGARIA’S Stoeva sisters have produced a masterclass of women’s doubles badminton to finally break down the defences of Japan’s Maiko Kawazoe and Haruna Konishi 19-21, 21-11, 21-12 after 62 minutes of an enthralling Scottish Open final.
It was the first time the pairings had met and the match-up of European and Asian styles produced an encounter that left a packed Emirates Arena gasping – regularly.
The Scottish is the Stoeva’s second major title of the season after they claimed the European Games earlier this summer and is also the third time they have won the third oldest tournament in badminton after earlier successes in 2014 and 2018.
Post-match, Stefani attributed the hat-trick of Scottish titles to a game plan devised specifically to combat the style of their far east opposition: “We saw some of their results from Instagram but this was the first meeting and our coach gave us a good tactical plan and we followed that well.
“So we tried to keep the shuttle in play, stay very focussed and also to add some variation in there. It’s a ladies doubles so it is always tough and you need to be ready for a lot of defence, lots of smashes and long rallies and just to keep going when you play Asians.
“It was tough as their defence was just so solid but eventually we managed it and it was important that we stayed patient.”
With some of the rallies regularly seeing each player rotate around the court, the push and pull of relentless accuracy employed to all four corners at times this left the Glasgow crowd ‘gawping’.
Yet it was the edge in power of the European pairing, particularly from the smash of Stefani Stoeva, that started to puncture holes in the iron curtain in front of the world No.20 Bulgarians but how they had to work for it.
When it came to making it a three-peat in Glasgow, Gabriela says today’s success marks a welcome return to form: “This is our third Scottish Open and we are very pleased to be back winning again. We always enjoy coming to Glasgow and we have some very happy memories of playing here before with the previous wins.
“Now we have made another good memory and also enjoyed playing in a great atmosphere, so we are very happy with all of that.”
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