Russians dethrone defending champions
Date: 4/27/2014 12:43 PM
Published by : Manuel Røsler

Semi-finals day looked to be going according to plan at the 2014 INTERSPORT European Championships in Kazan that was until Ivan Sozonov and Vladimir Ivanov took to the court against defending champions and hot favourites for the title Boe & Mogensen from Denmark.

On a day that saw a slight change in format, with the semi-finals being broadcast on just one court in two sessions, it was not until the very last match of the evening’s play that the real drama took place.

Denmark had being clinical in all the earlier matches. Jørgensen as expected came through against Viktor Axelsen is what he describe as a solid and determined match and Juhl and Pedersen were as always clinical even if they did get off to a slow start against Nedelcheva & Bankier. Even rank outsider Anna Thea Madsen looked comfortable in her own skin as she destroyed first time medallist Ozge Bayrak from Turkey. Madsen it seems has developed that Danish gene of knowing how to and expecting to win.

The trend was there for everyone to see, Danish representation on court against another European nation and it was Denmark as expected who were winning.

The crowds have been large this week in Kazan and for the most part very knowledgeable about badminton. Even late in the evening the Russian supporter had stayed late to see their last remaining hope of a final spot, Ivanov and Sozonov try and do what so many have failed to do, beat Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen from Denmark.

The pairs have met several times in the past and the Russians, just like Adcock & Ellis from England, have proven to be a thorn in the side of the Danes on many occasions. The Russians had taken the Danes to three games at the London Olympics plus a victory for the Russians in their last meeting at the 2013 Indonesian Open was still fresh on everyone’s minds.

The Danes looked to be cruising in the opening game leading 18-16 but four points in quick succession and the Russian duo were beginning to taste an upset. The Russian fans to were like a third man on the court always behind their men but in a very sporting manner.

The roars were deafening when Ivanov and Sozonov took the first game but the Danes soon silenced the crowd taking the second set 21-18. The scene was now set for a dramatic conclusion to the final match of semi-final day and drama there was plenty.

The Russians fans were chanting from the stands watching their men race into an 11-6 lead but then 7 points in a row from Boe and Mogensen highlighted the first real weakness in the nerve of the Russians.

Most would have expected the Danes to push on after that swing in momentum but somehow Ivanov and Sozonov steadied the Russian ship and levelled at 18-18. The crowd could sense an upset and for the first time this week the Danish coaches looked on edge in their chairs.

At 20-17 to the Russians a smash down the line from the Danes looked out but was called in. The Russians had begun celebrating and could not believe it when they were called back to continue the match. That in itself would have been enough to break the concentration of most pairs but Ivanov and Sozonov remained calm and finally took the match in the next rally to the utter disbelief of their Danish opponents.

Like chalk and cheese Sozonov celebrated like he had just won gold while Ivanov just calmly shook hands and picked up the racket his partner had tossed in the air. The scenes of celebration that followed were heart-warming and the Russians deserved their victory after winning the mental battle against the Danes.

“This is almost unbelievable. We beat them before so knew we could do it again.

To be in the final of the European Championships in Russia is a dream come true.” Ivan Sozonov.

Article by Mark Phelan (Live in Kazan). Photo by BadmintonPhoto.

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