Japan Open in Tokio 06.-11.04.04

After the Korea Open in Chungju City we continued to Tokyo to the Japan Open, where I took care for the biggest surprise of the tournament.  Due to the many tournaments, I had already played on 25 international Tournaments within a year, I did not take part in the single start, in order to concentrate me fully on the double with Juliane.  It is not always easy to dance on two weddings simultaneously and so far my decision was always gold correct.  In Japan I wanted to start again in both disciplines. However, when I saw my draw, I thought that it would have been probably better not to play. Actually, I had to play directly in the first round against the last year’s winner Camilla Martin, who was set at position six on this tournament. After her injury at the All England Open in the middle of March in Birmingham it was the first test for her on an international level.  During the warm up I noticed the fact that she moved still somewhat carefully and had problems to reach my drops. Well, I tried to play just my game and not to deal too much with their situation. At the result of 2-0 we changed services very frequently without managing to make points. Then I managed finally to make a very long ball change, so that she had to move properly. After a short time I led with 7-2 and could win this set also with 11-2. I made suddenly no more errors and I tried to play controlled and offensive, and I succeeded to do it very well.  In the second set Camilla became more confident and it was more difficult for me to keep up.  She had many incredible tricky hits, so that it was important for me not to move too early. At the midle of the set I noticed that I became somehow tired, but I held against it and kept on fighting.  At the result of 10-8 I had my first match ball and became somewhat more nervous.  I mean, it does not often happen that someone has a match ball against Camilla Martin.  After I could not use that, I made a direct point with 11-11 with a long service, about which she was very annoyed. That is why she made an easy mistake in the ball change thereafter and I could win the play after 33 minutes.  Unbelievable, but she gave me a chance and I used it.  What Camilla said about the game you can read on under Sayonara Camilla, konnichiwa Nicole.

Exactly four hours later were the eighth-finals, where I met the current European champion Yao Yie from Holland.  One year ago I already had the pleasure to play against her here and could win in three sets.  But this time it seemed from the beginning on not good for me at all.  I had not been absolutely up to the speed in the first set and gave it up quite clear with 3-11.  At the result of 4-8 I exploded and from then on I dominated the game.  Finally, I led like against Camilla 10-8 but again could not make the final point.  Then Yie led with 12-10, but fortunately she made two slight mistakes and I could win the set with 13-12.  In the third set I felt myself confident from the beginning and could lead directly with 6-2.  I managed to enlarge my advantage through long rallies and it was not to overlook that my opponent was tired.  This motivated me more and I gave all my power and strength .  This time I let it no longer burn with 10-4 advantage and realised directly the first match ball.  Thus I stood in the this year’s quarter-finals of the Japan Open.  What a wonderful day!

After I defeated the European champion I met in the quarter-finals the current world champion Zhang Ning from China.  Already during the warm up I noticed that I do not meet the balls correctly, because it was totally windy in the hall.  Just before my game the air conditioning system was switched on, since it was in an inhuman way hot in the hall.  Unfortunately I was too busy with the wind to concentrate myself on the game.  I made so many easy mistakes, since I had absolutely no control of my hits.  Instead of to play the balls over the center I tried to set them on the line with the result that they blew all in out.  Despite everything the game was okay and I had to give myself with 6-11 and 2-11 up.

In the doubles we had this time one of the most difficult draws at all.  We played (and we played really good)  against the third in the World Rank List RA and Lee from Korea (9-15/6-15), but we did not really have a chance to win a set.  We kept up good with, playing long rallies, but the Koreans had mostly the better end.  It was good that we managed to reach the eight-finals in Korea and we did not need the points here necessarily. 

Immediately after this tournament comes the European championship in Geneva, which will be the last tournament in the Olympic qualification.  Of course, it would be a beautiful ending, if I would come back at home with a medal.  I hope you think of me and wish me luck!  I will keep you up to date! 

Yours Nicole


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