round up birch and van leeuwen lead charge at austrian open

Round-up: Birch and van Leeuwen lead charge at Austrian Open

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Ethan van Leeuwen and Chloe Birch produced an outstanding run in the mixed doubles at the 2022 Austrian Open in Graz.

The English pairing eventually made it through to the semi-finals of the mixed doubles at the Österreichischer Badminton Verband arena, after having to fightback from a set down in the opening round against Belgium qualifiers Senne Houthoofd and Lise Jaques, before closing out a 19-21, 21-8, 21-9 win.

Second seeds and home favourites Philip Barker and Katharina Hochmeir were next up, but former national champions Birch and Van Leeuwen were simply too good.

They closed out a 21-16, 21-13 win with one of their best performances to date against a pair inside the world’s top 100.

And when Scotland’s Adam Pringle and Rachel Andrew were toppled in the next round, van Leeuwen and Birch were right in the mix for the crown, producing some top level badminton to make the final day of competition.

In Sunday’s second semi-final they were pitted against Hong Wei Ye and Chia Hsin Lee from Chinese Taipei.

Despite some lengthy rallies and a competitive showing from the English pair, the seventh seeds showed their quality and went through to the final after a 21-14, 21-12 victory.

Elsewhere, Lizzie Tolman also impressed on court, as she teamed up with Belgium’s Jaques in the women’s doubles draw.

The duo made it through the opening two rounds to set up a British battle with the Scottish team of Rachel Andrew and Sarah Sidebottom in the quarter-final.

Although Tolman ended up on the losing side of the net after a 21-15, 21-12 defeat, she can be pleased with her performances in Graz.

Over in the men’s doubles Alex Green and Jonty Russ gained more crucial on-court experience after making it through qualifying to the main draw.

In the first round they pushed the Malaysian pair Tan Kok Xian and Tan Yi Han all the way, forcing the match to a deciding set before eventually going down 21-10, 10-21, 21-19.

Meanwhile, in the women’s singles event Estelle van Leeuwen successfully navigated qualifying to reach the main draw after a thrilling three set win over Sara Loncar of Slovenia.

That ensured a first round face-off with Milena Schnider of Switzerland and van Leeuwen once again showed her willingness to go the distance, progressing after a 15-21, 21-11, 21-17 win.

Saturday saw her back on court against Smit Toshniwal of India for a place in the last eight.

After narrowly edging a hard-fought opening set, the sixth seed had just a little too much for the English shuttler, winning 21-19, 21-14.

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