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(Photo: Badminton Photo)
The 2020 Rewind
Date: 12/28/2020 3:23 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
All roads led to an action-filled 2020, only to be in the most part diverted to 2021 and beyond. However, lest we forget, some great badminton was played this year with some historic moments. As we drift into the new year, here is a reminder. 

The badminton calendar got off to a busy start in January. Viktor Axelsen reached the final of the Malaysia Masters, only to be denied by the world number one, Kento Momota, who after his record-breaking 2019, picked up where he left off. 

Breaking News!
On the morning after the final, the badminton community learnt of some terrible news. Kento Momota was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sadly, the accident for the driver was fatal. Momota sustained multiple laceration wounds to the face plus right maxillary sinus and nasal bone fracture. 

With everyone still dealing with the shock from Malaysia, three Europeans made it to the finals of the Indonesia Masters. Anders Antonsen, Carolina Marin and Maiken Fruergaard/ Sara Thygesen were all runners-up, with the Danes coming closest, losing out 23-21 in the decider against home favourites Greysia Polii/ Apriyani Rahayu.

The first title of the 2020 World Tour going to Europe was achieved by Marcus Ellis/ Lauren Smith in the mixed doubles at the Thailand Masters. 

The Swedish Open men’s singles final featured Centre of Excellence player, Felix Burestedt, taking on Dane, Victor Svendsen. Burestedt was not able to secure the dream title in front of the home crowd after being forced to retire mid-way through the final. 

For the review of the year’s BEC Major Events, click here

Axelsen warming up
In mid-February, Barcelona hosted the Spanish Masters, a Super 300 event which saw European representatives in all five finals. Gabriela Stoeva/ Stefani Stoeva and Carolina Marin playing at home, settled for the runners-up spot. Young French pair, Thom Gicquel/ Delphine Delrue, experienced their first final at this level. 

Viktor Axelsen defeated three-time World Junior Champion, Kunlavut Vitidsarn to take his first title of the year, a glimpse of what was to come. In the men’s doubles, Kim Astrup/ Anders Rasmussen defeated the Chinese Taipei pair, Lee Yang/ Wang Chi-lin. 

At the Austrian Open, we saw titles claimed by Germany’s Max Weisskirchen in the men’s singles, Scotland’s Alex Dunn/ Adam Hall in men’s doubles and Danes Jeppe Bay/ Sara Lundgaard in the mixed doubles. 

All eyes on All England
In March, the COVID-19 pandemic and the sports event cancellations that came with it began to gather pace. The German Open was cancelled, however, the All England a week later, went ahead. This decision allowed fans to witness history being made just before the lull in action.

After falling in the final last year, Viktor Axelsen returned even stronger, making history as the first European to lift the men’s singles trophy since 1999. 

Fellow Dane and badminton legend, Peter Gade, won it 21 years ago now. Axelsen now joins Gade and all the big-name champions of this prestigious tournament, after defeating Chou Tien Chen in straight games, 21-13, 21-14.

Following this special moment, BWF froze the tournament calendar and rankings with immediate effect in response to the worsening global pandemic. 

Fast forward to October
Although badminton was successfully and safely played on a small scale at the Latvia International in August and the Bulgarian International Championships in September, the beginning of the return of badminton was marked by the Denmark Open in October. 

With many countries from outside Europe not present, the tournament was dominated by the top European stars. Anders Antonsen and Rasmus Gemke, childhood friends, had a fairy tale final in Odense. Antonsen took the crown and also had the honour of defeating Danish legend Jan Ø Jorgensen in the quarterfinal, which became his tearful farewell match! 

Carolina Marin reached another final in 2020 but was not able to get the better of Nozomi Okuhara. Marcus Ellis/ Chris Langridge faced Vladimir Ivanov/ Ivan Sozonov in a clash of the two most experienced pairs in Europe. The England pair, after a fierce battle, won the title. 

Germany’s Mark Lamsfuss/ Isabell Herttrich capped off a successful week working their way through Europe’s top seeds to win the title over Chris Adcock/ Gabrielle Adcock.

Auf Wiedersehen in Germany
In what became the final World Tour tournament of the year, the SaarLorLux Open presented some thrilling badminton. Toma Junior Popov won his first title at this level with a resilient display. Kirsty Gilmour recorded a memorable win over Carolina Marin in the semifinal, before grabbing the title against home favourite Yvonne Li. 

Gabriela Stoeva/ Stefani Stoeva eased their way to another title, while the Danes picked up the other two doubles titles in emotional performances which clearly meant a lot. Jeppe Bay/ Lasse Mølhede won the men’s doubles, while Mathias Christiansen/ Alexandra Bøje managed to defeat the Denmark Open champions, Mark Lamsfuss/ Isabell Herttrich at their home event in the mixed doubles.

The Portugal International played in Caldas da Rainha early November was the final event on the European circuit. France and Scotland dominated the medals, with French wins from Brice Leverdez in the singles and men’s doubles with partner Lucas Corvée. Scots Lauren Middleton/ Holly Newall and Christopher Grimley/ Eleanor O'Donnell won the women’s and mixed doubles respectively, and Sabrina Jaquet of Switzerland won the women’s singles. 

Although we have had some unforgettable and emotional moments in 2020, every badminton fan’s New Year wish will be for more on-court action in 2021! 

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