King Kento’s Back, But Axelsen Wins Crown

King Kento’s Back, But Axelsen Wins Crown

For an extended period on Sunday, the summit ascent of one of the most astonishing comebacks in badminton was in progress.

Kento Momota, 20 months after a car accident nearly derailed his badminton career, and having reproduced his form in fits and starts on his comeback, finally put it all together in an electric display over the first two games against home hero and Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen.

The Dane had mowed down one opponent after another this year with his bludgeoning smash and considerable all-round abilities, but Momota moved with a sixth sense and was always there, in the right place at the right time. Alternately he teased and caressed the shuttle, pinging it into the right spots at just the right pace, rarely giving the big-hitting Axelsen the openings he sought. It was precise, controlled badminton of high quality, each question asked inspiring an equal response from the other end.

Momota played with controlled brilliance.

With a game up and 17-14 in the second, Momota looked set to continue his reign over Axelsen, over whom he had a 14-1 record.

Oh no, not again, Axelsen thought.

At this point the match turned. Momota’s judgement on the lifts to his backhand corner went awry; the shuttle fell on the line a couple of times, and suddenly Axelsen was back in the match. With the second game in his bag, the Dane persisted with his high pace even as Momota wilted in physical intensity.

Axelsen’s dream year continued with the 20-22 21-18 21-12 result, his fifth title of the season also his first Denmark Open title in the city he grew up in.

“It feels really overwhelming,” Axelsen said. “It’s a combination of being really overwhelmed and really tired. It was a tough one in there today. Obviously Kento is a really strong opponent. It’s good to play him again, it’s been a long time. I’m happy I managed to win.

“The first game was tough physically and mentally. I felt I should have taken it. He played a solid defence and my attack was a bit easy to read. In the second game I was behind and to be honest I was feeling a little bit Oh no, not again… I was having a tough time finding the gaps. But then I started to relax and play at a high pace, and then it worked out and in the third game he struggled a bit physically.

“It was a crazy mental game, quite demanding. It goes up and down in a match like this when you play such a great player.”

The Denmark Open final was one of the great matches of 2021.

Momota, having lost the match, sat in the seat courtside for a long time, staring into the distance. He had been so close to achieving something of great consequence; yet, the level of his play over the first two games was indicative of how far he has come.

“In the second game I felt there was a side wind, but it wasn’t there as much as I imagined, so I misjudged twice and that’s probably why I lost.

“Both of us put out all we had. Emotionally maybe I got pushed back a lot in the third game. It’s always exciting to play him because I get to develop a lot. These days I haven’t been playing very well, but now I feel I was able to free myself from something that was holding me back. So I think it has been a good switch for me.”

Yamaguchi Wins Enthralling Final

Yamaguchi prevailed over An Seyoung.

Momota’s loss was the only one that Japan suffered in four finals, with Akane Yamaguchi, Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi and Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino capturing the women’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles titles respectively. China’s Huang Dong Ping/Zheng Yu took the women’s doubles over Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan.

Yamaguchi’s final against Korea’s An Seyoung was every bit as enthralling as the men’s singles final that played out later. Yamaguchi’s grim determination in the face of a defensive masterclass from An Seyoung resulted in an epic battle. An Seyoung had match point in the second game before Yamaguchi prevailed; after a titanic struggle to 25-23 that the Japanese won, An Seyoung’s level dropped in the third as a muscle strain in the right thigh started playing up.

For Yamaguchi, it was her first Super 1000 title since the Indonesia Open 2019, and sweet revenge after a rout by her Korean rival at the Uber Cup ten days ago.

“Firstly, to win any game is really nice. Secondly, it’s been a while since I won a tournament so that that also feels nice. I’m very proud of myself that I was able to get the second game. I was able to respond to the cheering from the audience so if I could have given back a little bit with my performance, I’m proud about that too,” said Yamaguchi.

Click here for results of the VICTOR Denmark Open 2021

Hats Off to Indonesia, Says Kenneth Jonassen

Hats Off to Indonesia, Says Kenneth Jonassen
Kenneth Jonassen with Anders Antonsen.

Denmark’s loss to Indonesia in the Thomas Cup semifinals on Saturday was a tough one to swallow for the home favourites, for the Danes were widely expected to feature in the title round. Denmark head coach Kenneth Jonassen talks about the pivotal second singles that turned the tie Indonesia’s way and his admiration of how well the Indonesians handled the pressure.

Your immediate thoughts on the loss to Indonesia?

I think the doubles of Indonesia showed its strength. We knew there were a few crucial games we had to win, because we know the strength of Indonesian doubles and they showed it. We are tremendously proud of our guys for dealing with the pressure of playing on home soil, the expectations of doing well but also impressed by how each of the Indonesian players handled the crowd cheering for us, so my hats off to them for a great performance.

Jonatan Christie’s match against Anders Antonsen was the pivotal one in the tie.

Anders Antonsen’s was perhaps the pivotal match. Looking back, where do you think it turned?

(It turned on) Very small details. Winning the right rally at the right time could have set him (on to victory)… I think he had a few leads at the start of the third game which potentially could have kept us on, but at the end of the day you can’t ask anything more of players than giving everything on court, and he did, there was nothing left. So again, I take my hat off to Jonatan Christie for staying in there and delivering the point to Indonesia. We had a few chances, but Anders gave it all.

What were you telling him during the match?

The main thing was to keep believing, trust you’re strong enough to carry on, and not to let emotions get the best of you. With the crowd cheering you on it’s easy to get seduced and just follow your instinct all the time; sometimes it’s good to follow your instinct, but overall throughout the full match you have to be focussed and stable in your gameplan. Mainly, keep believing in yourself and see the opportunities happening even though he was under tremendous physical pressure throughout because it was a physical match. It always is when you play Jonatan, he’s a very strong player and it was neck and neck all the way.

What positives do you take from this campaign?

When the disappointment settles a bit I’m going to be proud of how we performed throughout the week. Not just the boys but also the girls. As I talked to both of the teams, for such a big event we have to learn to play at home, how to deal with the expectations and so on, and I can only say I felt we did that really well. We just lost to better opponents, but I also give a little bit of faith for the future. In women’s team we have a young setup. The boys, we are working on a generation change, but we can still say we battled against the best. Today we lost but we are competitive and if you give us a chance, we’ll come back.

Click here for results

2021苏迪曼杯:中国队第12次夺冠

2021苏迪曼杯:中国队第12次夺冠

2021道达尔能源世界羽联苏迪曼杯总决赛决赛中,卫冕冠军中国队以3-1击败日本队,第12次捧起苏迪曼杯。

纵观全场比赛,双方都展现了超强水准,年轻的球员们表现出了与久经沙场的球星们一样的抗压能力。在上一届苏迪曼杯上,日本队以0-3被中国队击败,这次他们试图推翻这一结果,但他们不得不再次区居亚军。

Zhou Hao Dong and He Ji Ting provided the breakthrough for China.

中国队教练张军谈到了对年轻队员的信任,以及他们在这场重大赛事中坚守立场的能力。让一位球员上两个单项的计划被搁置,中国选择了何济霆周昊东参加男双。

结果如愿以偿。保木卓朗/小林优吾在一个多小时的时间里与中国的年轻队员进行了战斗,但日本人错误地过度依赖防守。在比赛的最后阶段,何济霆/周昊东始终保持着进攻的活力,帮助中国队取得了领先。

“我们在四分之一决赛中输给了丹麦,我们吸取了教训——我们试着更有耐心,”周昊东说。

在上届苏迪曼杯决赛中,山口茜输给了陈雨菲。今天山口一心要进攻。日本人不愿意在对抗赛中留下遗憾,她保持着陈雨菲难以跟上的速度。即使当她的对手找到空档时,山口茜也依靠着顽强的跑动进行补救。正是这种更顽强的风格帮助山口茜赢得了比赛,因为陈雨菲在其他方面还是一如既往的精确和稳定。

Akane Yamaguchi kept Japan in the hunt.

“上一届苏迪曼杯我也是同样的情况,但我输了,所以我不想重蹈覆辙。而且,她是奥运会金牌得主,所以我决定挑战她。”山口说。“我只是想打一场稳定的比赛。我知道她打了几场长时间的比赛,一定会累的。我没有打过这么多长时间的比赛,所以我很有活力。”

在一场高质量的开局之后,男单比赛出现了最令人好奇的转折。开局似乎消耗了石宇奇太多精力,因此他放弃了第二局,把所有精力留到第三局上。无论是这一周累积的疲劳,还是仅仅精神上的压力,桃田贤斗又一次输了。世界第一面对石宇奇的不断高强度进攻,并没有什么办法能够应对,最终石宇奇以2-1击败对手,使中国队以2-1领先。

Shi Yu Qi took advantage of an under-par Momota.

桃田否认疲劳是他在第三局比赛中有点无精打采的原因。“我被对手的进攻能力压垮了,所以我输了。我没有那么累,但我找不到赢球的方法。”

石宇奇在庆祝他2019年7月受伤复出后的最佳时刻时,承诺要比受伤前更好。“我放弃了第二局以恢复我的体力。我必须把所有的精力都放在第三局比赛上。我有90%的最佳状态。赢得比赛是一件很棒的事情,但我的目标不是回到以前的水平——我要达到以前水平的120% !”

Chen Qing Chen is mobbed by her teammates after the women’s doubles victory gave the title to China.

日本最后的希望寄托在女双临时组合上,松本麻佑/松友美佐纪给陈清晨/贾一凡造成了不小的麻烦。中国组合一路经受着考验,她们表现出了出色的气质,关键时刻下手更加果断。

随着21-17 21-16的胜利,苏迪曼杯留在了中国。“奥运会之后,这个冠军让我们可以再次激励我们的队员,”张军说,“我们本届苏杯男双阵容上不是最完美的,对泰国和丹麦我们有一些困难,但我们决定让年轻球员上场,我们信任他们的能力,他们今天做的很好。”
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‘Stopping This Just Kills You Inside’

‘Stopping This Just Kills You Inside’

What keeps BR Sankeerth going?

It’s a question often asked of athletes, but the ones that feel it most keenly are the journeymen – those ranked beyond the top 40 or so, who don’t have the benefits of sponsorship or state support that the top players do; those who have to balance earnings, studies and game, seeking but not sure of success.

So, as world No.81 and having plied his trade mostly at the International Challenge and International Series level over the last few years, and with the breakthrough win yet to come his way, the question is asked: What keeps him going?

“It is expensive. I guess I’m in a tough situation to pay for all this, it’s not easy for sure,” says the 23-year-old, currently the fourth highest-ranked Canadian. “It’s just something you can’t give up on. You can’t quit. You can’t stay alive (without badminton)… it is hard even for the next few months, but just stopping this kills you inside, you just can’t be happy without it. I don’t know… something about it (keeps me going). So just find a way, keep competing and pushing.”

The Bangalore-born Sankeerth was a junior international with India before his family emigrated to Canada. For the next four years he played a clutch of tournaments mostly in the Pan Am region, but in 2019 he travelled far and wide in pursuit of ranking points. That year he played a staggering 31 tournaments – including in places as diverse as Cameroon, Mexico and Pakistan.

He raises the money, he says, “through coaching and some side hustles”.

“I don’t have any sponsors yet. I try to work as much as I can when I’m home, and then I spend it all on this. I do some coaching, I do some other work as well, some side hustles, to keep competing. Canada tries to support us as much as they can. All the players support themselves. It is quite expensive.”

This year he played nine tournaments before arriving at the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2021, and has a few more lined up. There have been some encouraging results, such as the semifinals of the Pan Am Championships and the Mexican International Challenge, and finishing runner-up at the Lithuanian International. At the ongoing Sudirman Cup, he pushed Vladimir Malkov in an entertaining three-game battle.

The goal, he says, is to gain sufficient ranking points to enable him to compete at the higher end of the Tour.

“I was in university studying chemistry, but I dropped out. It was hard to study, to work, and to compete. I dropped out to push in badminton and it was one year away from the Olympics. I will continue to push. I believe I have the level, the talent. Just lacking one or two things.

“I would like to compete more in the (World Tour) 300s, 500s. My world ranking is 81, I need to bring it lower, to get an entry in these tournaments. Sometimes I do get lucky, but I need a consistent level to compete. Even today (Thursday) I was on the slightly weaker side. But I’m looking forward to the future.”

He has shifted his training base to Bangalore, the city of his childhood, where he works with a team under coach Jagadish Yadav – “he’s a person who makes me believe in what I do every day”.

As for the immediate future, Sankeerth is looking for those “three-four results” that will help him get into the top 50, which would help him make the draws of the Super 300 and 500 tournaments.

While the pursuit of ranking points is expensive for a self-funded player, Sankeerth says it’s not just about the money.

“It’s just satisfaction. I don’t know how to explain it. The level of respect and appreciation I get, for what I’m doing — which is OK. I want to be better, I want to be a player. Seeing the top players play… it makes you want to be there, right?”

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2021苏迪曼杯:克服困难,桃田贤斗重新出发

2021苏迪曼杯:克服困难,桃田贤斗重新出发
Kento Momota took time to find his game against Torjussen.

2021道达尔能源世界羽联苏迪曼杯总决赛 第三比赛日中,桃田贤斗率领的日本队5-0击败英格兰队,将与马来西亚队争夺小组头名位置。

在东京奥运会小组赛阶段被淘汰之后,球迷对桃田的状态充满了好奇。今天,在D组日本对阵英格兰的比赛中,渡边勇大/东野有纱帮助日本取得领先后,桃田贤斗在与世界排名第205位的托尔森的比赛中,看上去与巅峰时期的状态还相距甚远。

日本人经常被托尔森的杀直线所击溃,这位22岁的英格兰球员打得非常轻松,然而最后一记发球将优势拱手让给了桃田,他在第一局比赛中获得了信心,并在没有进一步失误的情况下结束了比赛。

“一开始我非常紧张,无法发挥自己的能力。接近第二局的时候,我让自己冷静下来,控制住自己的比赛。”

Johnnie Torjussen.

“我希望在专注度方面有所提高。我今天很紧张,不能专注于一件事。不过,好在我能让自己冷静下来。”

托尔森说,他对自己的表现感到惊讶。

“这对我来说绝对是一个惊喜,我不知道他是否感到紧张。很高兴看到我的扣杀能够穿透他的防守。我认为这对我来说绝对是一个巨大的信心助推器,能够在与世界上最好的球员的比赛中取得这样的成绩。我想在未来面对每一个球员时都这样做。”

本·莱恩和文迪不敌古贺辉/斋藤太一,没能阻止日本队。 山口茜以21-16/21-12击败霍尔顿,之后志田千阳/松山奈未在与布里奇/史密斯的比赛中直落两局,帮助日本队5-0完胜英格兰队。

在另一场B组比赛中,马来西亚以5比0击败埃及,而在B组中,中华台北以5比0击败德国,韩国以同样的优势击败了塔希提岛。

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Download the Badminton4U app here.

BWF Launches New Badminton4U App

BWF Launches New Badminton4U App

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has launched a brand-new mobile app offering fans a unique content and user experience designed to bring you the viewer closer to the action.

Available in English and Simplified Chinese, the Badminton4U app appeals to a global audience and showcases the best badminton content from around the world, all in one convenient location.

DOWNLOAD HERE

BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer said of the launch: “The Badminton4U app is the start of an exciting new journey to connect the worldwide badminton audience with badminton all year round.

“It is a project close to our hearts and one that will give a new dimension to how badminton is consumed.

“We now look forward to seeing fans around the world downloading Badminton4U and becoming immersed in the sport more than ever.”

From today, users of Badminton4U can follow their favourite players, receive live scores as they happen, get notifications when their favourite player is on court, watch the latest video-on-demand, and receive the latest badminton news all in a flash.

The app is free to download and includes access to real-time match centre data and exclusive back-stage pass content.

Plus, fans have the option to register for a richer, more personalised experience where they can individually tailor their content selection based on the players and teams they love.

The dynamic environment also allows users quick and easy access to these features all in the palm of their hand.

BWF Council Member and Chair – Communications and Media Committee, Nigel Skelt, said the app had been a strategic endeavour long in the making.

“We have been striving for a unique way to reach more badminton fans in a capacity that connects them to the sport and the players more directly and we believe Badminton4U is a big part of this solution,” Skelt said.

“We’re excited to watch it flourish for many years to come as we continue in our pursuit to grow badminton globally.”

BWF Secretary General Thomas Lund added: “Thank you to our development partners Deltatre and the entire team responsible for making this project a reality.

“Development has been a thorough process, although somewhat complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we’re now extremely thrilled to see the app on the shelves.”

Badminton4U is available from today via Google Play and Apple iOS stores.

山口茜:东京之后,从零开始

山口茜:东京之后,从零开始

这些天来,山口茜凭借着轻盈的步伐和顽强的精神率领日本进入了苏迪曼杯和尤伯杯决赛,并在20221威克多丹麦公开赛中赢得了一场精彩的对决,她正在重回巅峰。

这位世界排名第五的日本选手讲述了她在丹麦公开赛上的胜利,她最近的表现,以及她是如何从主场奥运会的挫折中恢复过来的:

赢得丹麦公开赛意味着什么?

Yamaguchi with the Denmark Open trophy.

首先,赢得任何一场比赛都是很好的。其次,我已经有一段时间没有拿到冠军了,所以这感觉也很好。第二局比赛是关键,我很自豪我能坚持下来。

你在尤伯杯输给安洗莹后很伤心。这次失败是否激励了你?

是的,在某种程度上,因为我输得太惨了,我不仅要在策略上努力,还要在决赛前调整我的情绪。尽管她比我年轻,但我是挑战者,我必须冲击她,必须比她做得更好。

在这个欧洲赛季,你表现得非常出色。在东京的失利对你来说起到了什么作用?

回到过去,在里约奥运会之后,我打得不好,但在里约之后,我可以说,好吧,我没有做得很好,所以我下次会做得更好。但在东京奥运会上,结果并不好。我不能满足,我在东京表现的很差。但那一次我无法给自己找借口,不能再想着下次我会做得更好,我没有那种感觉。这就是为什么,与其考虑下一个赛事,不如从新出发。我要从头开始,我只想纯粹地享受羽毛球运动。我认为,不去想所有的结果,只是纯粹地享受羽毛球,这是我真正喜欢的,导致了这些好的结果和高水平的表现。

与你职业生涯中的其他主要成就相比,你认为这次丹麦公开赛的胜利有什么样的意义?

如果有人问我这场比赛是否改变了我的职业生涯或羽毛球生涯,老实说,答案是否定的。它没有那么巨大的影响,但由于新冠疫情的影响,好几个月来场馆都没有观众。已经很久很久了。这是很长时间以来我第一次在观众面前打球。正因为如此,我感到了在一个挤满了人的体育场比赛的重要性和兴奋,同时我也能够用我的比赛回报观众。整个过程真的很有趣,我现在可以感受到我的感激之情。

所以对我来说,羽毛球哲学和羽毛球生活就是能够用我最好的发挥来回报我得到的欢呼。

Shy acknowledgement to teammates after winning her match at the Sudirman Cup.

在球场上,你永远不会泄露自己的想法。你经历过内心的不安吗?

这取决于比赛。我一直都是一样的,但根据比赛情况,我有时很激动,有时很冷静。对于这次比赛,尽管比赛很激烈,我还是很冷静。

你是为数不多的从不在比赛中要求擦汗的球员之一,你几乎从不换球。难道你不需要这些小小的间歇来度过激烈的比赛吗?

我很难在比赛中集中精神。如果我休息,我的注意力就会分散,这就是为什么我不喜欢频繁休息。

我当然累了。但由于疫情的影响,除了奥运会,没有多少比赛,所以我很兴奋能和海外球员一起比赛。

‘After Tokyo, I Thought, Let Me Start From Zero’

‘After Tokyo, I Thought, Let Me Start From Zero’

Akane Yamaguchi has a light-hearted manner about her these days. A cloud seems to have lifted. Having led Japan into the Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup finals, and winning the VICTOR Denmark Open 2021 in a titanic duel, Yamaguchi is reclaiming her place in the sun.

The Japanese world No.5 opens up about her Denmark Open win, her recent performances, and how she bounced back from the setback at her home Olympics:

What does it mean to win the Denmark Open?

Yamaguchi with the Denmark Open trophy.

Firstly, to win any game is really nice. Secondly, it’s been a while since I won a tournament so that also feels nice. The second game was the key and I’m proud that I could get it. Because of that I think I was able to respond to the cheering so if I could have given back a little bit with my play for the cheering I’m proud of that.

You were distraught after your Uber Cup loss to An Seyoung. Did that loss spur you on in the Denmark Open final?

Yes, in a way… because I lost so badly I had to work on not only strategy but I had to rebuild my emotions towards the final. I chose to think that even though she’s younger than me, I’m the challenger, and had to push towards her. That meant it made me grow to be a challenger and to do better.

You’ve been exceptional during this European season. How difficult was the quarterfinal loss in Tokyo 2020, and did that make you determined to make amends?

Going back, after the Rio Olympics (in 2016), I couldn’t play well but at that time, after Rio, I was able to say like, okay, I didn’t do well so I’m going to do better next time. But at the Tokyo Olympics, the results were not good. And I couldn’t be satisfied and I wasn’t myself in Tokyo. But that time I couldn’t really feel that, okay, now I’m going to do better next time; I couldn’t feel like that. So that’s why, rather than to think of the next event, I thought, let’s just make it zero. I’m going to start from the very beginning. I’m just going to purely enjoy badminton. And I think going in, not thinking about all the results and being zero and just to purely enjoy badminton which I really do, was leading to these good results and high performance.

How highly do you rate this Denmark Open win compared to the other major achievements in your career?

Well, if I’m asked if this match changed my career or my badminton life, honestly, the answer is no. It’s not as big. But because of Covid there were no audiences in stadiums over many months. It has been a very, very long while. This was the first time in a very long while that I played in front of an audience. And because of that, I feel the importance, the excitement of being able to play in a stadium full of people and also that I was able to give back a little bit towards the audience with my play. This whole process was really fun and I can now feel the gratitude towards that.

So for me the badminton philosophy and the badminton life is to be able to give back with my best play the cheering that I receive.

Shy acknowledgement to teammates after winning her match at the Sudirman Cup.

In the team events you led Japan into the finals of the Sudirman Cup and Uber Cup, and you won both matches against Chen Yu Fei…

Team tournaments mean I have Japan on my back, so I should not lose easily. That’s where the strength is coming from, and that’s also why I was able to perform well. It’s the flow from there, that I’m being able to play well now. So rather than thinking about results, I’m just following the good rhythm and the flow from those two tournaments.

On court, you never give away what’s going on in your mind. Do you experience tumult?

It depends on the tournament. I’m always the same but according to the tournament, I’m sometimes very agitated, and sometimes I’m calm. For this tournament, I was quite calm even though the game was intense.

You are one of the very few players who never asks for a towel break during a game, you hardly ever change the shuttle. Don’t you need those little intervals to get through intense matches?

I cannot concentrate at a high level through the match. If I take a break my focus will be broken, so that’s why I don’t like frequent breaks.

Of course I get tired. But due to Covid there haven’t been a lot of matches except for the Olympics, so there’s excitement that I’m able to play with overseas players.

2021丹麦公开赛:心魔终究会过去

2021丹麦公开赛:心魔终究会过去

在周日晚上的最后一场比赛中,羽毛球历史上又一令人震惊的逆转出现了。

二十个月前,一场车祸差点毁掉桃田贤斗的羽毛球生涯,之后的他一直在努力恢复状态。终于他在对阵本土英雄安赛龙的前两场比赛中,勉为其难的找回了从前的自己。

今年的安赛龙用犀利的进攻和相当全面的能力击倒了一个又一个的对手,但桃田贤斗凭借其完美的预判,一次又一次地出现在了正确的落点处。他精准的控制和假动作,让安赛龙难以突破。这是一场精准到极点的高质量对决,每一个问题都能从另一端得到回答。

Momota played with controlled brilliance.

当桃田在第二局以17-14领先时,所有人都认为他即将第十四次击败安赛龙。

但安赛龙不这么认为。

第二局局末桃田的几个误判让比赛重新回到起点,突然之间安赛龙起死回生了。在第三局比赛中,安赛龙始终坚持他高强度的打法,这也使桃田从体力上开始力不从心。

安赛龙梦幻般的2021年还在继续,他以20-22 21-18 21-12的比分击败了宿敌桃田贤斗并拿下本赛季第五个冠军。这也是他在自己的家乡获得的第一个丹麦公开赛冠军。

“我现在的感觉有些不知所措,是一种终于释然和非常疲惫的结合。今天的比赛非常艰难,桃田是一个非常强大的对手。很高兴能再次和他碰面,很久没有在赛场上遇到他了,这一次我赢了。”

“第一局的比赛无论是身体上还是精神上都很艰难,我觉得我应该拿下它的。桃田的防守十分坚固,我的进攻很容易被他捕捉到。在第二局比赛中我落后了,说实话那时我感觉完了,我又要输了。在那之后我反而放松了下来,我选择加快速度更大胆的进攻,结果就真的奏效了!在第三局比赛中,很明显他的身体很难再跟上我的节奏。”

“这是一场疯狂的比赛,对心理素质的要求很高。在这样一场比赛中,当你与目前最优秀的球员交手时,你的心态很容易飘忽不定。”

The Denmark Open final was one of the great matches of 2021.

输掉比赛的桃田,久久地坐在场边凝视着远方。他离胜利曾经那么近,他也在前两场比赛中展示了他想要王者归来的决心。

“在第二局比赛中,我感觉有些侧风,但它远远没有我想象的那么多。我误判了两次,这是我输掉比赛的原因。”

“我们都倾尽了全力,在第三局比赛中我的情绪受到了很大的影响,和安赛龙交手总是能激发我的潜能,我也从中找回了很多失去的东西。这段时间我打得一直不是很好,但是现在我觉得自己能够从过去的阴霾中解放出来了,所以我认为这对我来说是一个很好的转变。”

山口茜:在艰难中取胜

Yamaguchi prevailed over An Seyoung.

桃田贤斗的失利是日本队在本次丹麦公开赛四场决赛中的唯一的失利,山口茜保木卓朗/小林优吾以及渡边勇大/东野有纱都分别夺得了女子单打、男子双打和混合双打的冠军。中国组合黄东萍/郑雨在女子双打比赛中战胜了李绍希/申昇瓒。

山口茜与安洗莹的决赛毫不逊色于之后的男单决赛,山口用坚定的决心回应了安洗莹密不透风的防守,这也让一场史诗般的比赛得以上演。在山口茜胜取胜之前,安洗莹曾在第二局比赛中获得赛点。在被山口茜以25比23的比分逆转拿下第二局后,安洗莹的战力值在第三局因右大腿肌肉拉伤而下降。

对于山口茜来说,这是她自2019年印度尼西亚公开赛以来首次获得超级1000赛事的冠军,也是在十天后击败安洗莹的甜蜜复仇。

“首先,赢得任何一场比赛都是很棒的事。其次,我已经有一段时间没有赢得比赛了,所以这种感觉很好。我为自己能够赢得第二局比赛而感到骄傲,我对观众的欢呼给予了回应,我的比赛能对大家有所回报,这让我很自豪。”山口茜说。

Axelsen-Momota: Thunder Meets Rock

Axelsen-Momota: Thunder Meets Rock
Momota and Axelsen, the two best players of this era.

Kento Momota is 14-1 in career meetings against Viktor Axelsen.

However, when the two meet today in the final of the VICTOR Denmark Open 2021, that will be no more than an interesting statistic. It will have little bearing on what transpires today, for so much has happened in their lives since that last meeting in January 2020.

The subtext to their final today will be how far the Momota of today is from the Momota from before his car accident in January 2020.

The world champion chose to look at the question differently.

“The past is the past and our head-to-head record is the past and I don’t think it is relevant for tomorrow. If I don’t play 100 per cent or 120 per cent I will easily lose. So how I make my feelings strong and determination within myself will be the key for tomorrow,” said Momota.

Kento Momota had a smooth path to the final.

In a sense, the final represents a clash between the not-too-distant past – the Momota of pre-January 2020 – and the present, the Axelsen of 2021, the Olympic champion, the man who has lost just two of his 50 matches this year. It will be a pointer to where Momota stands, how far he has come since the trauma of the accident and subsequent setbacks such as his shock loss at Tokyo 2020. Recent results have been a mixed bag; his performance against the nearly flawless Axelsen will be an accurate estimate of his current form.

The 14-1 statistic is mostly representative of the past that Momota doesn’t want to dwell on anymore. It was of a time when he was the one opponent Axelsen could never get the better of over a prolonged period. Axelsen needs no extra motivation, but it will be important for him that he is playing in his hometown, in the final of a tournament that he has never won.

With Axelsen having lost just two matches this year, even as he made his eighth final of 2021, most would have him as favourite. Momota could not but back himself.

“At this point, it will be very silly if I say Viktor is going to win. So I will say that I will win. I will keep my feelings strong,” said Momota.

“Finally, we get to play. I’m very excited. But now Viktor plays nearly perfectly, so I’m a bit concerned about that. But I will try to enjoy it as much as I can. We’ve been looking forward to this match. We respect each other as players so I will do my best.”

Viktor Axelsen countered some difficult opponents on the way to the final.

As for Axelsen himself, the Dane was his usual cautious self, only stating that he had to be at his best if he had to finally get the better of his former nemesis.

“For me, personally, it’s a great matchup. I’ve had a bit of a hard time against Momota, so tomorrow I want to do better. I want to see if I can beat him. I’m feeling confident, I’m looking forward to it. I have huge respect for Momota, he’s a really strong opponent, so it will be a fun experience for sure.”

‘Losing This… Would’ve Followed Us Forever’

‘Losing This… Would’ve Followed Us Forever’

Strangely, there was no celebration. Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, otherwise known for their unique post-victory war dances, temporarily withdrew into their own worlds after a roller-coaster semifinal at the VICTOR Denmark Open 2021.

It wasn’t just that this was their first Denmark Open final on their ninth try; not just that, a year ago, at this very event, they were at a low point in their career after crashing out to their juniors in the second round.

Rather, it was due to their shock at how close they had come to squandering a dream victory that was in their hands, against Malaysia’s Goh Sze Fei and Nur Izzuddin. As Rasmussen was to say later, a loss “would have followed us forever”.

Kim Astrup reacts in disbelief after making the final.

“I’m used to doing a good celebration but today my thoughts went home to my family,” said Rasmussen, who sat in stunned silence after a line call on match point went their way. “It kind of shocked me in a way and I was very emotional after the match. I still am. There wasn’t dancing or anything, but it was overwhelming in every sense. I’m very grateful. We threw it away in the second game. I don’t know what we would have done if we had lost the match. That would have been… epic, in a way. I’m glad we turned it around because that (loss) would have followed us forever.”

The Danes were flying in the semifinal, against Goh and Izzuddin. Astrup was delivering unreturnable serves and the Danes streaked ahead 13-5 in the second. They were sniffing victory, but a few indecisive moments later, the Malaysians had forced a third game.

Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.

The pattern repeated all over again in the third, and when the Danes had finally won the last point, Rasmussen stared blankly into space; Astrup had his head in his hands.

“That moment when you feel like it’s slipping through your fingers, it’s a tough feeling,” said Astrup. “We were so close to standing in the final and you can see it melt away. And there’s literally nothing you can do except try to do better. So I’m very proud of how we handled it and we put everything into it and left it all out there and got a great start in the third game and a little bit of luck in the end.”

Just a year ago, Astrup and Rasmussen had despair written all over them after falling to junior compatriots Rasmus Kjaer and Joel Eipe in the second round. That loss led to a lot of soul-searching, with Astrup revealing that they had even contemplated calling it quits.

“That was a low point. It got us thinking — is it really worth it, is it worth all the trouble? Sometimes you’ve got to go very deep to get really high. But this is an insane high for us. We are insanely happy.

“We feel like we have possibilities to play the very best again, and I’m pleased with that. A lot of injuries and difficult times have made it difficult for us to play our best, but I’m so satisfied with our level this week.”

Astrup and Rasmussen thus made it to their first Super 1000 final since the China Open in 2018, which they won. That victory was followed by several ups and downs. It was at the Swiss Open in March this year that they struck form once again, following up with semifinals at the All England and the European Championships.

“It isn’t always easy being an elite sportsman,” said the emotional Astrup. “It’s easy and difficult at the same time, because there’s so much pressure on you. You put so much pressure on yourself. Today we got a dream come true again. I was not sure we’d get into a Super 1000 final again, but now we have a chance and we are satisfied with that.”

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Maiden Super 1000 Semifinal Validation of Gilmour’s Progress

Maiden Super 1000 Semifinal Validation of Gilmour’s Progress

Kirsty Gilmour likes to reference a picture of two little mining men – “one is an inch away from striking gold, and the other one’s packed up and gone home.”

There is little doubt on who she equates with the more resilient miner, the one who does strike gold.

The analogy appears when she talks of how long it has taken her to break into a Super 1000 semifinal for the first time in a longish career.

“I know, if I just make a couple more smart decisions, if I tighten up a couple of shots, that I’m right there, and I think I’ve been right there. It takes all these years coming to these top tournaments, because I can’t necessarily get that level of sparring everybody has.”

Kirsty Gilmour in action.

Gilmour’s entry into the VICTOR Denmark Open semifinals — her first last-four place in an HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 event — came with a look of disbelief as she beat Clara Azurmendi, her second three-game win in two days.

After beating Kim Gaeun in a tense duel on Thursday, 26-24 in the third, it was a more comfortable finish for the Scot today, although she lost the second game after being 13-6 and 18-15 ahead.

She wrapped up the third game at 21-11, threw her racket away, and clutched her head in disbelief. She was in her first semifinal at an event of this level.

“I don’t think this happens often at this level tournament, (it’s always) the same eight to 10 names in the semifinals and quarterfinals. So yeah, I think I’m not gonna lie, it was very nervy for both of us out there.

“There were probably a little bit nerves (in the second game) but Clara is a very aggressive player as well, so absolutely fair play to her, she did step up a little bit and I also had to come up to meet that, so I got off to a good start in the third which I think was the most important thing and just kind of kept that gap from there. I didn’t have to do anything special, just keep doing what I was doing.”

Gilmour after beating Kim Gaeun.

Gilmour credited the resurgence in her form to the work put under coach Ingo Kindervater over the last couple of years. Victory at the SaarLorLux Open last November was validation that she was on the right path. After recovering from a stress fracture in December that took four months to heal, Gilmour made the semifinals of the European Championships in May this year.

“It feels pretty good. You know, we had the European Championships, fighting for bronze there. So, yeah, it’s nice to be able to, you know, step on court and not be worried about little injuries. Just to go on, play my game. Be fearless. And that’s really what I’m trying to do.”

It will be An Seyoung in the semifinals tomorrow, against whom she is 0-2.

“I’ve always loved playing An Seyoung and we’ve played a couple of times right before the whole Covid situation so it will be interesting to see how we match up this time, there were good games last time so at this point there’s nothing to lose. I don’t get the chance to be the true underdog very often but I’ll happily take up that position tomorrow.

“I think her movement is her absolute strength. She just looks like she’s gliding around the court. She makes it look effortless. But I’m going to speak with Ingo and new coach (Jan O) Jorgensen. And see what we can come up with. I’m going to go over my notes from last time, but it’s going to be a good match. I’m really looking forward to it.”

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2021丹麦公开赛:印尼新鲜血液席卷赛场

2021丹麦公开赛:印尼新鲜血液席卷赛场
Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana celebrate their win.

年轻的印尼男双组合在2021年丹麦公开赛的第二轮为我们留下了令人印象深刻的印象。

菲克里姆拉纳是本次比赛最成功的印尼年轻组合,他们击败了头号种子吉迪恩/苏卡穆约。其他年轻组合,比如库苏马瓦达纳/兰比坦马尔瓦/赛伊卡都在面对一流球员时掌握主动,却在关键时刻方寸大乱。

菲克里和姆拉纳在第三局的比赛中一直让小黄人组合置于险境,尽管小黄人组合挽救了两个赛点,但还是无力回天。

Muhammad Shohibul Fikri (right) and Bagas Maulana, who surprised the Minions.

“他们今天打得很好,最后时刻运气没有站在我们这边。”吉迪恩说。

“能够赢下比赛真的非常感激。我们的优势是没有包袱,可以放手一搏。刚上场时我们很紧张,因为是和前辈比赛,比赛开始后我们感觉好多了。我们从来没有在训练中击败过吉迪恩和苏卡穆约,这是我们的第一场胜利,所以我们非常高兴。”

另一对年轻的印尼组合库苏马瓦达纳/兰比坦,在对阵阿斯特鲁普/拉斯姆森的第二局比赛中以18-12领先。然而经验丰富的丹麦组合并没有慌张,他们连拿九分以21-15 21-18的比分赢下比赛。这也是这对组合九次参加丹麦公开赛以来首次进入四分之一决赛。

Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen stopped their young Indonesian opponents after trailing 12-18 in the second game.

“有时候当你落后很多,就会觉得这一局输了,那时你的心态就会放松下来。有时我们一路领先,却会在十八十九分时止步。这场比赛我们没有犯错,他们在应对阿斯特鲁普的发球时遇到了一些困难。这场胜利给我们留下了深刻的印象。”

“过去八次参赛我们都没有进入过四分之一决赛,这是第一次,这对我们来说意义重大。我们一直没能给主场观众展现出精彩的表现,这次到最后我们都颤抖了,浑身起满鸡皮疙瘩。”阿斯特鲁普说道。

第三对表现出色的年轻印尼双打组合是马尔瓦/赛伊卡,她们与李绍希/申昇瓒激战三局,最终遗憾落败。

Former Denmark Open Champ’s Quest for Form that Deserted Him

Former Denmark Open Champ’s Quest for Form that Deserted Him

The paths of two recent Denmark Open champions – Kento Momota and Kidambi Srikanth — crossed on Thursday; both now in varying stages of self-discovery having slipped from the pinnacle of the game.

Kidambi was riding a wave in 2017. He was in five Superseries finals that season, winning four – including the Denmark Open and French Open on successive weeks.

Momota, king of the circuit in 2018 and 2019, had won the Denmark Open those two years before it all changed for him following his car accident in January 2020. The world champion has made a tentative return, showing flashes of his old self, but has been some way off from the version that dominated the circuit.

Kidambi Srikanth, still seeking form.

Of the two, Kidambi’s is perhaps the more puzzling case, to himself and to followers of the sport. There was no defining moment when his form deserted him. It’s a question to which he has been seeking answers, without much success.

When the two met in the second round, Kidambi’s sharp attack was pitched against Momota’s defensive prowess, and the Indian built up a comfortable lead in the opening game before losing it and falling in straight games. It was the kind of loss that summed up his predicament – how did he lose his way after a lead of 15-8 and 20-17? He himself has no clear answers.

“If I’d won that first game, things would’ve been different. When you’re playing at the highest level, you have to pull out such matches. 20-17 is a big lead,” Kidambi reasoned.

“I could see myself getting better in the first game, but at the highest level you have to convert these close ones into wins. All I can do is keep working in the right way, it’s about working hard and sticking to it.

“Sometimes it’s too tough to come back after losing the game from 20-17. He got a big lead in the second game. Maybe I should’ve started better in the second game. Maybe I’m just learning. I will work on a couple of things with my coach.

Kidambi Srikanth.

The answers were more or less what he has offered over the last few years after every loss, every statement carrying underlying uncertainty.

Were the depleting results due to his own loss of form, or simply because the others were playing at a different level? Had men’s singles itself changed over the last four years? What did he have to do to catch up?

“I think at the highest level, you always have to be there. There can’t be ups and downs. There can be a 10 percent (change in level) but not 30 percent ups and downs. But for me, with the (knee) injury and during the Covid period, I lost a couple of years. It’s just that I couldn’t play and also, the Olympics, not being able to qualify. A lot of things, six tournaments getting cancelled.

“There are five-six guys who are playing really well. For me to get to that level it takes a lot more hard work. When I go back to Hyderabad and analyse what went wrong, it will be a little easier to figure out what to do. So I will get some time to work on things after the World Championships.”

What was it like to return to the Denmark Open, an event which he won while in his prime?

“Definitely it carries memories, I still remember winning this tournament. I didn’t forget about it, but now the situation has changed, the conditions have changed. So it’s more about thinking about the match that I play, rather than what has happened in the past.”

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Minions Stunned by Young Compatriots

Minions Stunned by Young Compatriots
Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana celebrate their win.

Indonesia’s young doubles pairs made an impression in the second round of the VICTOR Denmark Open 2021.

Muhammad Shohibul Fikri and Bagas Maulana were among the successful pairs, having stunned top seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, but others, such as Pramudya Kusumawardana/Yeremia Erich Yoche Yacob Rambitan and Nita Violina Marwah/Putri Syaikah held strong positions against more fancied opponents before losing their way.

Fikri and Maulana never let their senior compatriots off the hook in a close third game; the Minions saved two match points before succumbing on the third.

Muhammad Shohibul Fikri (right) and Bagas Maulana, who surprised the Minions.

“They played really well today, and we were not lucky at the end,” said Gideon.

“I’m thankful that we could beat them. We had nothing to lose and we tried to enjoy the game. Coming in, we were very nervous and playing our seniors, but we felt better once the match started. We’ve never beaten Marcus and Kevin during practice, this is our first win so we are very happy,” said Fikri.

Another young Indonesian pair, Kusumawardana/Rambitan, looked set to take the second game against eighth seeds Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen with an 18-12 lead. The Danes however ran up a winning streak from that stage, taking the next nine points to win 21-15 21-18 to enter their first quarterfinals in nine attempts at the Denmark Open.

Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen stopped their young Indonesian opponents after trailing 12-18 in the second game.

“Sometimes when you are behind and think this set is lost you find some kind of relaxed state of mind. We pushed through all the way. Usually you have a stop at 18 or 19, but we kept on going and they made some mistakes for us; I think they struggled with Kim’s serve. We really impressed ourselves,” said Rasmussen.

“The last eight times we’ve never been through to the quarterfinals, this is our first time. That means a lot to us. We’ve never been able to give our home crowd the level they deserve so we were both shaking a bit after the match. We had goosebumps,” said Astrup.

A third young Indonesian doubles pair to do well was Nita Violina Marwah/Putri Syaikah. The 20-year-olds stretched second seeds Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan to three games, with the Koreans prevailing 15-21 21-18 21-15.

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