DENMARK OPEN 2013 QF – Danes defy odds to come back from the dead

A packed hall in Odense Sports Park witnessed one of the great badminton matches this evening as Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen saved a total of 10 match points […]

A packed hall in Odense Sports Park witnessed one of the great badminton matches this evening as Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen saved a total of 10 match points to make it to the semi-finals of the Yonex Premier in what will be a repeat of the Olympic semi-finals from London.

By Mark Phelan, live in Odense. Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

In a match that started off with little or no drama, today’s quarter-final between Fischer Nielsen/Pedersen representing Denmark and Asian Champions Ko Sung Hyun / Kim Ha Na (pictured below) of Korea ended up providing a spectacle of badminton in front a packed arena in a match that is sure to go down in the annals of history as one of the all-time great battles.

The Danes took a lacklustre opening game 21-14 before the Koreans bounced back to level the match with a 21-10 win in the second game. It was not until the third game that fireworks started and, that said, the match looked over and done with once the Koreans built up their 20-15 lead.

Slowly but surely, though, the Danes started to reel in their opponents and the clever tactical switch to flick serve to Kim Ha Na bore dividends as from nowhere, Fischer Nielsen and Pedersen levelled at 20-all.

At 15-20, strangely we did not feel we were out of it,” said Fischer Nielsen afterward.

Nerves certainly started to play a huge factor for the next 20 minutes as both pairs traded points but it was the Koreans who still looked the more likely team to take the plaudits. The crowd started to chant and sing and Fischer Nielsen certainly fed off the energy while the calming influence of Pedersen kept the Danish train on the tracks.

29-29 is not a score line that is witnessed very often in badminton but after an hour and 20 minutes, that was the mentally tough position both pairs found themselves in. The crowd could hardly contain their excitement and when the Danes converted the winner-takes-all point, the arena went absolutely crazy.

This is one of the craziest wins of our career and we have played many games. We didn’t play particularly well but and our belief in each other and our understanding took us through,” said a happy Joachim Fischer Nielsen immediately after the victory.

The Danes will now meet China’s Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei in tomorrow’s semi-final, the pair that defeated them at the London Olympics.

Saina title defence derails at quarter-final stage

The defending women’s singles champion came unstuck this afternoon at the quarter-final stage against Sung Ji Hyun (pictured above) of Korea.  Saina Nehwal (pictured right) looked on track to advance to the semi-finals after taking the opening game but an apparent ankle problem thwarted the Olympic bronze medallist’s chances as she struggled in the final games.

I felt something happen to my ankle and it troubled me for the most part of the third game. But I have no real complaints as she played better than me today,” said Saina after her loss, the first in her career to the Korean world #6.

Chinese walkovers once again leave a sour taste in the mouth

It was no accident that all the China vs. China matches scheduled for today were put on the outside court and, true to form, both the women’s singles and women’s doubles quarter-finals fell foul of walkovers. As might be expected, the pairs needing the points advanced and once again it is the paying public who suffered.  It is a true shame for the knowledgeable Danish fans, who applaud world class badminton, and the dilemma as how to marshal this type of occurrences continues for the BWF, which has taken no action in the more than two years since it vowed to be especially vigilant with walkovers in matches between compatriots.

Click here for complete quarter-final results from Odense

About Mark Phelan