BIRMINGHAM: England's Rajiv Ouseph believes that European singles players are slowly but surely catching up with their Asian counterparts.
While Europe has always provided a strong challenge in the doubles events, it is the men’s singles that has always been lacking since the glory days of Denmark’s Peter Gade.
But Ouseph, who defeated Gade in the first round of the All-England two years ago, believes that the European men are definitely on their way back up once more.
This was after the lanky 27-year-old fought to a superb win over China’s world No. 7 Du Pengyu in the first round of the All-England on Wednesday.
Ouseph, who is ranked 22nd in the world, gave the home crowd much to cheer with the 21-16, 11-21, 21-14 win over Pengyu.
“That was a good win for me and, yes, I definitely believe that the European men are catching up,” said Ouseph, who was once ranked as high at No. 11.
“We have Jan (O Jorgensen) who has achieved good results and Marc (Zwiebler) who has always done well ... so, that gives us a lot of confidence too.
“Of course, the Asians are always so strong, with the Malaysians and Chinese out there.
“When (Lee) Chong Wei is at his best, he is definitely better than everyone else out there. But, we’ll get there.”
Ironically, both Jorgensen and Zwiebler crashed out in the first round of the All-England on Wednesday, losing to Asian shuttlers – Son Wan-ho (South Korea) and Chong Wei Feng (Malaysia) respectively.
Ouseph, who is a Commonwealth Games silver medallist, will be severely tested when he faces rising Japanese star Kento Momota in the second round.
In Thursday’s second round matches, China’s Wang Zhengming ended the gallant run of compatriot Gao Huan, winning 21-19, 21-17 to make the quarter-finals.
Gao Huan had, a day earlier, dumped third seed Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia in the first round.
In the men’s doubles, Japan’s world No. 2 Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa put their German Open final defeat last week behind them as they eliminated Germany’s Michael Fuchs-Johannes Schoettler 21-13, 22-20.
They will be joined in the last eight by South Korea’s Ko Sung-hyun-Shin Baek-cheol, who outclassed Danish giant-killers Kim Astrup Sorensen-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-8, 21-8.