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Friday January 18, 2013

Russians now a badminton force to reckon with

RUSSIA is well known for sports like football, volleyball, ice-hockey and even figure-skating.

But a current crop of Russian shuttlers are fast making a name for themselves ... with a few impressive performances over the past year.

First, it was the women’s pair of Valeria Sorokina-Nina Vislova, who won the bronze medal at the London Olympics last year.

Then, last week, men’s singles shuttler Vladmir Ivanov created history by becoming the first Russian man to reach the quarter-finals of a Super Series event at the Korean Open when he defeated world No. 15 Jan O Jorgensen in the second round.

The tall and strapping shuttler, however, failed to get past the first round of the Maybank Malaysian Open, losing 15-21, 18-21 to Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki in the first round at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Still Ivanov, who is primarily a doubles player with Ivan Sozonov, believes that it is a good start for Russia and that it will pave the way for more success in the future.

“I actually didn’t expect to make the quarter-finals at the Korean Open mainly because I focused more on the men’s doubles,” said Ivanov.

“But I’m happy because it was a good result and it makes badminton every bit more popular back in Russia.

“In fact, the sport really started to pick up when our women’s pair won bronze at the Olympics last year.

“It’s a pity that I lost in the first round here because my opponent was very good. It’s also partly due to the different temperature here as it’s cold in Russia.”

He certainly had better fortunes in the doubles, teaming up with Sozonov to send KLRC’s Mohd Zakry Mohd Tazari-Mohd Fairuzizuan packing in the first round. The world No. 15 won 19-21, 21-14, 21-16.

And the Russians continued to march on to the quarter-finals. Yesterday, Ivanov and Sozonov surprisingly scored a 21-19, 21-18 win over Indonesians Alven Yulianto-Markis Kido in the second round.

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