When Jan O Jorgensen called time on his international career at the DANISA Denmark Open 2020, the announcement was rich with symbolism, for the event had been a constant marker in the career timeline of the doughty Dane.
From the time he battled into the main draw of the 2005 edition, onward through his quarterfinal defeat of Peter Gade in 2009, his first major title the very next year, and then his tearful farewell last fortnight, the Denmark Open reflected the fortunes of the player who spearheaded Denmark’s men’s singles in the post-Peter Gade era.
“Huge memories here,” said Jorgensen, recalling his association with the Denmark Open. “First one in 2005, reaching second round in Aarhus I think, when I was very young. Three years later semifinals, beating Peter Gade here and winning next year, my first major title, so this is one of the big places for me and I’m just proud to have won it, and to end it here is special.”
Jorgensen brought to court a steely determination that would be recounted by his peers as his defining characteristic. This stubbornness on court brought him several laurels – he was the first European to win the Indonesia Open (2014) and the China Open (2016); at the World Championships, he won a bronze in 2015.
Of the three, Jorgensen had the greatest trouble with Lee, beating him only once in 17 meetings. Against Lin Dan, interestingly, Jorgensen had a sound record, with six wins against nine losses. Especially since 2012, Lin found in Jorgensen a difficult, hard-to-shake-off opponent.
Since winning the Denmark Open in 2010, Jorgensen went on to capture three more Superseries – French Open 2013, Indonesia Open 2014 and China Open 2016. He was a runner-up at five Superseries.
However, his biggest moment possibly must be the Thomas Cup 2016 triumph in Kunshan, when he played a pivotal part in Denmark becoming the first non-Asian country to take the title. The Dane beat Anthony Ginting in the second match of the final, helping Denmark go 2-1 up before the trophy was clinched 3-2.
Having announced his retirement before his home event, Jorgensen’s final tournament in Odense offered glimpses of what he has been renowned for throughout his career. Against two young and upcoming opponents, Jorgensen dug in to keep his journey alive, until he ran into Anders Antonsen.
“It was way too emotional, I tried my very best not to get into that stage, but when I walked on to the arena I felt this is going to be a tough one,” said Jorgensen. “It was a struggle from the beginning, but then we started playing and I tried to find a way and I think I came up with something but Anders was like a pillar and putting it back to me. I knew that my chances today were very slim.
“I’m happy to have had this game and this memory from this tournament. I’ve always done all I could for winning, and I have tried to work up a spirit inside me when I wasn’t playing well. Sometimes it has made me win games where I wouldn’t have had any chance.”