EURO MIXED TEAM CHAMPS 2013 – Danish supremacy on a hiatus?

The entire European badminton community suffered a shock today, as they heard of Denmark’s loss at this weeks European Mixed Team Badminton Championships, where Germany handed the Scandinavian powerhouse their […]

The entire European badminton community suffered a shock today, as they heard of Denmark’s loss at this weeks European Mixed Team Badminton Championships, where Germany handed the Scandinavian powerhouse their first defeat since 1994.

By Tarek Hafi, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Yohan Nonotte from BadmintonPhoto

Over twenty years ago, Denmark was just beginning to assert its dominance in the European badminton when they had to bow to Sweden twice in the early nineties at the mixed team championships. Thereafter their dynasty began in earnest as they took nine straight titles, in addition to the lions share of the men’s and women’s team as well as individual medals.

Eighteen years on, it is their southern neighbours, Germany, who have created the little earthquake on the European badminton scene by taking the trophy away from the defending champions with a 3-0 victory.

The Danish team was, of course, without the  recently retired Peter Gade and the soon-to-be-retired Tine Baun, but were still able to field three doubles pairs ranked in the world’s top four to face the highly motivated German team.

The opening match of the encounter saw Germany’s own world number four, Julian Schenk, taking on the up-and-coming Danish youngster, eighteen-year-old Line Kjaersfeldt (pictured).  The arch favourite Juliane Schenk left no chances to her younger opponent, releasing all her repertoire of shots to prevent the tall Dane from finding any angles on court.

Playing a very fast, powerful game, the German top player appeared in complete control from the beginning to the end. Kjaersfeldt, on the other hand, looked very nervous opening for the defending champions in such a big event and couldn’t help but commit mistakes.  Juliane Schenk therefore closed out the first game 21-9, and slowed down only slightly during the second, winning 21-16 on another shuttle played out by her Danish opponent.

Following this was the much awaited men’s singles, featuring the in-form Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (pictured) playing Marc Zwiebler.  Despite the higher ranking and convincing head-to-head record in Vittinghus’s favour, the Dane was not in position to finish off the match positively as he faced a confident Marc Zwiebler.

The German, ranked 20th in the world, didn’t seem to be affected by a harsh loss in the second game, where he went down 7-21, but in fact showed an even more eager aspect in the rubber, looking sharper, with fantastic and accurate net play.  Zwiebler played a perfect third game to take a second point for Germany with a 21-17, 7-21, 21-8 victory and this left Denmark needing to begin their comeback in the women’s doubles.

It was a very interesting women’s doubles matchup, as Birgit Michels was joined in a scratch pairing by her famous women’s singles team-mate Juliane Schenk (pictured) to take on none other than world number four Christina Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl.  Not at all daunted, Juliane Schenk, herself a former top-15 doubles player, showed off her fast coverage abilities and disguised shots throughout the match, helped by her partner with more recent doubles experience, Birgit Michels.

Taking the first game with difficulties 21-19, the two German ladies appeared relaxed and appeared pressure-free, while their opponents didn’t seem to be able to find a solution to overcome their anxiety, watching Schenk and Michels flying away with the trophy.  And it became clear the Germans would earn a very well-deserved trophy as the second game went by.  Despite the heavy attacks from the Danes, Juliane Schenk and Birgit Michels remained calm and focused to conclude the match, and the encounter, with more disguised shots, the final score 21-19, 21-15.

It was a golden opportunity for the German team that was seized cleverly to steal the title from Denmark. The perennial power meanwhile, has become accustomed to strong supremacy in Europe but this is now looks to be clearly in danger, with not only Germany but also England as well as many other nations up and coming looking to test the Danes as badminton contenders.

Final result: Germany 3, Denmark 0
WS: Juliane Schenk (GER) bt Line Kjaersfeldt (DEN)  21-9, 21-16
MS: Marc Zwiebler (GER) bt Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (DEN)  21-17, 7-21, 21-8
WD: Birgit Michels / Juliane Schenk (GER) bt Christinna Pedersen / Kamilla Rytter Juhl (DEN)  21-19, 21-15
(not played)
MD: Ingo Kindervater / Johannes Schoettler (GER) vs. Mathias Boe / Carsten Mogensen (DEN)
XD: Michael Fuchs / Birgit Michels (GER) vs. Joachim Fischer Nielsen / Christinna Pedersen (DEN)

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About Tarek Hafi