Svend Pri wins All-England Title20 December, 2017
Everything at the All-England Championships of 1975 was dwarfed by the defeat of Rudy Hartono, who had held the men's singles title for the preceding seven years, by Svend Pri in a most brilliantly played final.
It was the great Indonesian's first ever defeat at Wembley, and Pri's success on his eleventh appearance in the Championships was a most popular one.
It was not the Dane's first success over Hartono, because he had beaten him three times in the past - twice in Scotland, in 1972 and 1973, and in the more eventful Thomas Cup final at Jakarta in the latter year - but there is something about the All-England Championships which made this year's results so much more eventful.
Miss Hiroe Yuki retained her 1974 ladies' singles title to give herself the title for the third time, and Johan Wahjudi and Tjun Tjun also won the men's doubles again. The Japanese pair of the Misses Aizawa and Takenaka regained the ladies' doubles to give them their third win, but new champions in Elliot Stuart and Miss Nora Gardner of England were crowned as mixed champions for the first time.
The tournament took place again at Wembley for the 18th time, and the dates were March 19th to 22nd, with qualifying rounds held at Wimbledon over the three days of the preceding week-end.
Both Hartono and Pri reached their appointed places in the final without ever being really in danger of defeat, though the Dane had dropped the first game in two of his early matches when opposed to R. P. Stevens of England and W. Bochow of West Germany, but he revealed his wonderful form when thrashing the Indonesian, Tjun Tjun, to 5 and love in the semi-final, after Tjun Tjun had eliminated Sture Johnsson of Sweden who had threatened the great Hartono so very severely the year before.
Hartono reached the final in his customary placid way, certainly conceding many points here and there but rarely looking like losing, though in the first round Elo Hansen of Denmark had taken the great man to a score of 15-11, 17-14.
A Wonderfully Played Final
The dramatic final started most undramatically and did not liven up until Pri had reduced Hartono's early lead of 4-love and himself got ahead at 7-4. By this time the Dane was really calling the tune throughout most of the rallies, and he continued in this vein until be reached game point at 14-8 when be was halted for a while before running out at 11 after 18 minutes.
Some of Pri's recovery strokes to ward off Indonesian kills were at times really marvellous, and it was quite amazing how, time and again, he was able to return Hartono's kills at his body after the shuttle had indeed passed him. Furthermore, many of these recovery strokes were such as just skimmed the net so as to force the Indonesian to hit upwards.
The second game was exciting through out and the play wonderfully good with many very long rallies. Hartono took the lead at 8-4, only to see the Dane's great defence hard at work as he slowly, not only drew level, but actually went ahead at 12-8. Pri seemed to have a much better idea of the exact position of the boundary lines of the court, both in finding them to hit and in knowing where they were on his opponent's strokes. Nevertheless, with his back apparently not far from the wall, as it were, the great champion that Hartono is was able to force the Dane into errors at this stage, and Pri's hitherto uncanny accuracy then deserted him for a spell. Hartono actually raced from the threatening game and 8-12 down state of the match to 14-12 to himself in one hand only. He was aided by Pri hitting backhand strokes out of court three times and failing to return low services twice.
But Pri recovered to reach 14-all, when the Indonesian naturally decided to set the game. Hartono recovered the service, only to concede the advantage at once and to give the Dane an immediate match-point by twice hitting out. But Pri soon got his second match-point and then made no mistake. He was champion after playing really brilliantly in the 37-minute match.
Svend Pri was overcome with excitement as he raced off the court to find his wife, pushing aside everyone in the way of his rejoicing. He was universally acclaimed by the thousands in the Pool.
Only two of eight seeded players failed to reach the last eight. They were Christian of Indonesia who was beaten by some very fine play by the New Zealander, Ross Livingston (15-11, 15-7), and England's P. E. Whetnall who was unable to hold off the acrobatic Ippei Kojima of Japan. Eventually, all four top-seeded men reached the semi-final round, but both matches at this stage were somewhat one-sided.
Miss Yuki conceded no game in her victorious march to her third title which she had not been generally expected to retain. The favourite had been Denmark's Miss Lene Koppen who had had a most successful season, but she found Mrs. Gilks in rare form in the semi-final when the English lady thoroughly avenged three earlier defeats in the preceding weeks.
The Defeat of Mrs. Gilks
In the final the Japanese was always ahead. She took the first game after 15 minutes and continued slowly to gain a lead of 8-3 in the second before Mrs. Gilks really managed to impose her undoubted genius. Most of the English points were scored from a superiority on the drop shot which even the amazing mobility of the Japanese was insufficient to parry successfully. After many exchanges of service Mrs. Gilks slowly drew up to 8-9, at which stage she really was in the hunt for the first time. But it was not to be. The Japanese had her first match-point at 10-8, and three more at 10-9 before she managed to get home after a match of 29 minutes
Unlike the men's singles, the four top seeds did not all reach the semi-final. The missing one was the 1973 champion, Miss Margaret Beck, who fell, quite unexpectedly, to the unseeded Miss Utami Dewi, the sister of Hartono. She had been unseeded because of complete lack of data over the past year or two, but she brought her previous form back with an excellent win over the seeded Netherlander, Miss van Beusekom. But in the semi-final Miss Yuki was a little too much for her. The Japanese beat her pretty comfortably.
Apart from Miss Utami Dewi, Indonesian hopes received some severe jolts. Three of them had been seeded, but only one, Miss Tati Sumirah, got to the last eight. Even she had to struggle against England's Miss Jane Webster who bad three match-points in their third game. Miss Sri Wijanti was badly upset by England's Mrs. E. B. Nielsen (12-9, 11-3), and Miss I. Wigoeno also disappeared in her first match at the hands of another English conqueror, Mrs. Whetnall. Both winners then went out to Japanese players.
For the third year running the men's doubles final was an all-Indonesian affair, but both finalists dropped a game to European pairs in the preceding round. The earlier rounds were much more interesting than the final because of the lack of international rivalry in it. Only one seeded pair failed to justify itself, J. D. Eddy and E. H. Sutton (England) falling to Japanese rackets. Two pairs stood out boldly. They were the Swedes. B. Froman and T. Kihlstrom, and the Germans, R. Maywald and W. Braun. The former upset, and quite comfortably too, R. P. Stevens and M. G. Tredgett of England, and then went on to capture an easy first game off the eventual champions. The Germans, playing some truly magnificent Badminton at times, put out England's top pair and then ran the other Indonesian pair to game-all.
Expected to produce an all-English final, the ladies' doubles had instead an all-Asian last match which saw the Japanese, Misses Aizawa and Takenaka, gain their third win of the title. It was unusual to find both finalists from pairs seeded only in the 5-8 class. The two English pairs, from whom much was expected, both failed to come up to expectations. Mrs. Whetnall and Miss Boxall were almost elimnated in their second match by Japan's third pair, Mrs. Nakayama and Miss Nishio, who ran them to 15-8, 1-15,17-16.
The mixed doubles was notable for the absence of quite a number of leading players, none more so than the 1973 champions, D. Talbot and Mrs. Gilks. The two Indonesian pairs who had so dommated things at Tehran and at Jakarta in the autumn and thus acquired top-seeded places, both fell by the wayside in the fourth round; neither, indeed, appeared to be very interested in further progress, and so the event became all-European in its later stages. England's E. C. Stuart and Miss Gardner became the champions, but it must be mentioned that they were lucky to find the Germans, R. Maywald and Mrs. Steden, well below their Friday form when Saturday came round. The holders, Eddy and Mrs. Whetnall, had gone out most unexpectedly to their compatriots, Alan Connor and Miss Smiles, in two games, in a match which saw Connor really excel himself, as he also did against the Germans a round later, and Eddy right off form.
Players from some twenty different countries entered the Championships, and they included some from Iran, Slovenia and Taiwan for the first time. Those from the first named were eliminated in the qualifying rounds, but it was a commendable effort of theirs to come to England, for Iran is relatively new to the game. The Taiwan players did quite well, notably their ladies who all got through a round in the two ladies' events and thoroughly justified their exemption from qualifying.
Finally, the attendance of the public was the highest ever, and Friday's seats were sold out a long time before the day.
-- World Badminton May 1975