European powerhouse Denmark suffered a shock loss in the European Mixed Team Badminton Championships yesterday, when it went down to Germany 0-3 in the final at Moscow.
The upset meant that an 18-year unbroken run was at last breached by the finalists of the last edition. The last time that Denmark lost in the final was in 1994 to Sweden.
The architect of the defeat on Sunday was world No.4 Juliane Schenk, who won her first match against Line Kjaersfeldt 21-9 21-16.
The Danes were missing the services of their long-time warriors Peter Gade in the men’s singles and Tine Baun in the women’s singles. The second rubber was between world No.17 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and world No.20 Marc Zwiebler. Although Vittinghus had a 4-2 record going into the match, Zwiebler managed to turn it around in his favour, recovering from a disappointing second game to win 21-17 7-21 21-8.
With Denmark 0-2 down, hopes were pinned on the world No.3 women’s doubles pair of Christinna Pedersen/ Kamilla Rytter-Juhl. Germany, on the other hand, had to depend on the scratch combination of Schenk and Birgit Michels. After a close first game, which the Germans won after trailing 14-17, they had it easier in the second, sealing things with a 21-19 21-15 victory.
This is Germany’s first ever victory in the 44 years of this tournament.
Denmark, despite having some of the world’s best pairs in the three doubles categories, struggled in the semifinals as well. They were taken to the fifth rubber by England, who inflicted a couple of unexpected losses on them.
Former world junior champion Viktor Axelsen was beaten in the second rubber by Rajiv Ouseph after Denmark had taken a 1-0 lead. Line Kjaersfeldt restored the lead in the third match, but a shock 21-16 20-22 21-19 defeat of world No.1 Mathias Boe/ Carsten Mogensen by England’s Andrew Ellis/ Chris Woodcock forced a fifth rubber, which the Danes won after a struggle, 23-21 21-13 against Heather Olver/Lauren Smith.
Germany, however, were only briefly troubled by Russia, who could take only one match in a 3-1 defeat. In the quarterfinals, Germany beat France 3-0; England beat Ukraine 3-1; Denmark beat Scotland 3-0 and Russia beat Netherlands 3-0.