Credit: Badmintonphoto

BEC Time Travel: French Open 2011

10/24/2020 8:26 AM | |  Rasmus Bech(BEC)

This week the French Open would have taken place. Due to the Covid-19 situation the tournament has been cancelled, and instead of covering the tournament live, Badminton Europe looks back at previous editions of the tournament. Today we will be taking a look at the 2011 edition featuring the winner Christinna Pedersen.

- Sometimes week two could see strong players withdraw, but this was not the case here. It makes me proud that we managed to finish this one off.

The statement is from October 2011 back-to-back winner, Christinna Pedersen, who first claimed the title on home soil in Denmark, and then went to Paris to win two straight tournaments.

A doubles icon
Christinna Pedersen was for more than a decade one of the top doubles players in the world of badminton. The Danish doubles star born in 1986 won medals and titles that a lot of players can only dream of, and now retired it makes her happy to look back – among other things at the French Open 2011.

- I clearly remember then, we were travelling from Denmark to France that Monday after the Denmark Open. It was always hard to leave the Denmark Open where we have had a lot of Danish support, and family and friends watching. For Kamilla (Rytter Juhl) and we rushed back to our apartment in Copenhagen, packed a few things and then left from Copenhagen Airport on Monday morning.

- It was hard but also a cool thing, because we knew what was waiting for us in France: Yes, we had Danish support at Denmark Open, but the French people also love badminton, and when I am looking back now, then I will always remember the support we had when we entered the Stade Pierre de Coubertin. It was amazing.

Tough beginning
Coming out of the Denmark Open as winners the week before, all eyes, of course, were on Christinna Pedersen and her partner Joachim Fischer, and nine years later Pedersen admits that the opening matches were not easy at all.

In the first round, the Danes beat Triyachart and Yao from Singapore, before winning in straight games against Jongjit and Amitrapai from Thailand in the second round.

- The matches on Wednesday and Thursday were difficult, and one of the reasons was the long run we had at the Denmark Open the week before. The bodies need to restart and get into “tournament mode”. When we got past the first two matches, it was like the bodies were ready to face the tough opponents in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final.

- We always had this one thing to focus at: No matter how hard it all could be, we would never feel sorry for ourselves. It was never “oh it is so hard for us to go to Paris” or “this is so tough for my body”. We chose to live this life and the tournament plan, and there is no point feeling sorry for yourself when you are delivering good results. Of course, the body did hurt on Monday and Tuesday. Of course it did, but if I began to feel sorry for myself, I knew the results would most likely not go my way.

Denmark vs. China
The Danish mixed doubles reach the semifinals at the Stade Pierre de Coubertin in Paris to face Chinese pair Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei. Ahead of that meeting the two pairs had met three times before in three matches where the word “thrilling” could not even describe the matchups. And believe it or not: At French Open 2011 it was the same.

For the fourth consecutive match the Danes won by two points in the decider – this time 22-20 – winning for the fourth time against Zhao Yunlei and Zhang Nan securing a spot in the final.

- When you look at the draw and know that you will be facing these two, you knew it was one of those days where you should bring your running shoes.

- It was a great rivalry but also a really difficult battle throughout the years. They were a world class pair and Joachim and I managed to play at a level where in a long period we could play well and win against them. At the same time we knew that if we were only playing on 90-95 per cent, we knew it would be hard to win against them. We never won easy against them.

- On a personal level, we had a great “fight” with Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei. We had a great deal of respect for each other. Of course, sometimes we did not want to change shuttles once in a while, but all in all, we had a great deal of respect for each other. I think one of reasons is that we all played at a level that if you were falling 5-10 per cent behind the others, the opponents would win. It was a very positive rivalry.

Having played their final match against the Chinese, Pedersen and Fischer can look back at a 10-9 win in the head-to-head against the former Olympic and World champions.  

The perfect rivalries
When badminton fans look back at the history, they will for sure be looking back at a time, where four mixed doubles pair dominated in 2010’s: Christinna Pedersen/ Joachim Fischer (Denmark), Zhao Yunlei/ Zhang Nan (China), Liliyana Natsir/ Tontowi Ahmad (Indonesia) and Ma Jin/ Xu Chen (China).

- It was so great to compete against these three pairs, and it was cool to know that they really prepared well to beat us.

- These four pairs often reached the semifinals, and of course, from time to time some of us missed out, but it was a great time and competing against these three pairs for sure made us a better pair. We all knew that it was not “just” in the finals, we had to play a high-level opponent.

Chen was tired
Two of the four pairs met in the French Open 2011 final: Pedersen and Fischer against Xu Chen and Ma Jin. A rematch of the Denmark Open final the week before.

- It is hard to play ten matches in two weeks, and it was really hard for Xu Chen, Christinna Pedersen remember.

- Joachim was working really hard when we were playing, and one of the things we talked about was that no matter how much it did hurt in the beginning, it was important to send a signal that they needed to work harder than us to win. I think that Xu Chen began to feel that his legs were feeling sore, and was not that fast in this final, as far as I remember, she added.

- I am proud
The Danes won the first game 21-17 and a few acting skills might have helped to secure the victory in the end.

- We put up a good poker face in this final, and they knew it was going to be a tough task to beat us.

The Danes won the second game 21-14 claiming their first – and only - back-to-back win.

- I am proud that we were cool and managed to also keep a positive mind. Of course, we were tired, but we were mentally cool and played some nice badminton.

Winners of French Open 2011
MS: Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia)
WS: Wang Xin (China)
MD: Jung Jae Sung/ Lee Yong Dae (Korea)
WD: Wang Xiaoli/ Yu Yang (China)
XD: Christinna Pedersen/ Joachim Fischer (Denmark)

You can find all results from French Open 2011 here


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