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(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Denmark push reigning champions to the limit
Date: 10/1/2021 5:23 PM
Published by : Sara Gonzalez Martinez
After a close race between the two teams, China have secured a spot in the semifinals after winning 3-2 over Denmark. 

It all looked so bright at the start of the day as Denmark secured the first win of the clash, but the defending champions were not going to give in so easily. The only European team standing at this important stage of the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup 2021 fought hard, but China came on top.

Big win to kick-off the day
The duo of Anders Skaarup Rasmussen/ Frederik Søgaard gave a great show that got Denmark to start their fight in quarterfinals with a huge win, while also surprising the big rivals. China might not have expected such a clash against the men’s doubles pair.

- We feel amazing. Even though I do believe we are underdogs, I think that men’s doubles is a game that we needed to win. We have not played that much so I do not think that they had prepared for what we do. It gave us a moment of surprise. This was a really nice victory, Rasmussen said. 

After losing the first game in which the Danes played all their cards on defense, Rasmussen/ Søgaard started to attack and challenge them to eventually start taking key points that got them to win 21-17, 16-21, 19-21 with a big celebration from them on court. 

Mixed feelings
Next up, it was Mia Blichfeldt’s turn who, after her fellow teammates’ win, felt all the energy when stepping on court. She would need it, as she was facing no other than this year’s women’s singles Olympic champion.

- She brings the best game out of me. I always play good matches with her. I should do that more often when I played against others. This match was also a good one for me to play in a tactical way because I think I should play more like her, Blichfeldt said.

The Dane played at Chen Yufei’s level, getting off to a strong start and winning the first game. Yet, Chen fought back in the second game and Blichfeldt’s aggressive moves in the third did not play in the Danish player’s favour.

- I have mixed feelings. I am quite satisfied about the way I played today and the way I handled my game plan. I really stayed focused at all times, and I think I matched her on some points. She is the Olympic champion, there is a lot to be proud of, but I really wanted to win the match for the team. I am smiling, but I am disappointed, Blichfeldt explained.

Giving everything for the team
Axelsen stunned his opponent Shi Yu Qi and the audience with his usual sharp performance. Both players had faced each other before, the last time being in Tokyo 2020 where Axelsen won, and the Dane would do it again.

-I am really pleased. Shi is a really good opponent. Every time you step on court to play against him, you need to be at 110%. I wanted to win for the team today and I think the whole team have done an amazing job on court, showing quite a spirit. I tried to do the same, and it paid out, Axelsen said.

In women’s doubles, Maiken Fruergaard/ Sara Thygesen had the chance to take the win for Denmark by being victorious in their match, but the pair struggled at some key points to overcome Chen Qing Chen/ Jia Yi Fan’s strong service pressure.

It was a similar situation for Mathias Christiansen/ Alexandra Bøje who got a lead at the start but also struggled with the serves and made some mistakes at the end of the first game that eventually made them lose control of the match. The pair had their chances and fought until the end, but Wang Yi Lyu/ Huang Dong Ping secured a win that would get China a spot in the semifinals.

Many of the losing Danes were close to causing an upset against the favourites, but this will not make the team give up as there is a lot of badminton in the upcoming months, including a big event on home soil.

- I think we were really close. We know we are a good team, and we have good team spirit when we play these team events. We can take this energy to the Thomas & Uber Cup because it is on home soil and we really want to do well there, Christiansen stated.
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