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BADMINTON

Denmark wins world badminton team title

Denmark beat Indonesia 3-2 in the Thomas Cup final Sunday, securing the nation's first world badminton team championship after racking up eight second-place finishes over the decades.

Denmark wins world badminton team title
Jan O Jorgensen of Denmark celebrates his victory against Anthony Ginting of Indonesia. Photo: Scanpix

Hans-Kristian Vittinghus led the Danes to victory in the fifth and final match of the tie on the back of strong singles performances from fourth-ranked Viktor Axelsen and world number five Jan O. Jorgensen.

Denmark is the first European nation to win the Thomas Cup.

“Ever since we came here, since last week, I've been dreaming about being the deciding factor in a final,” said Vittinghus. “I really appreciate that my teammates put me in this position where I had a chance to win the cup for Denmark.”

In the opening match, European champ Axelsen kicked off the final by controlling the net as he exploited his height with smashing overheads and diving saves to take the first game. 

World number eight Tommy Sugiarto grabbed the early lead in the second, but the Dane proved too strong, clinching the match 21-17, 21-18. 

Following the win, Axelsen sprinted to the sidelines, tossing his shirt and racket into the roaring audience – a scene that would repeated by his teammates with each successive win. 

“I was really nervous during the game, but I managed to stay calm in the end and that's why I won,” said Axelsen. 

Second-ranked doubles team Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan evened the score and halted Denmark's momentum with a 21-18, 21-13 over Mads Conrad-Petersen and Mads Pieler Kolding. 

In the third match of the afternoon 19-year-old Anthony Ginting unleashed explosive energy to maintain Indonesia's momentum, but fifth-ranked Jorgensen remained measured and patient to deliver a 21-17, 21-12 victory executed with finesse. 

But the Indonesians refused to go down quietly, battling for every shot as they pursued their 14th Thomas Cup title. 

Doubles pair Angga Pratama and Ricky Karanda Suwardi clawed back initiative for their team, forcing the fifth match of the series after dispensing with Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen 21-16, 21-14. 

“At the beginning of the game we felt nervous because Denmark led 2-1,” said Suwardi. “Our strength is equal with Denmark so we never felt like underdogs.” 

But the revival proved temporary. Vittinghus, who also staved off the team's imminent defeat in the semis, was in constant motion, firing repeated overheads and dropshots with growing certainty, as he overpowered Ihsan Maulana Mustofa 21-15, 21-7. 

With their first Thomas Cup in hand, the Danes rushed the court and danced wildly as the Chinese fans stood up and cheered in approval. 

“My confidence grew throughout the match. I was nervous in the beginning but I think I handled it pretty well,” said Vittinghus, adding that post-match celebrations will likely include “a lot beer, a lot of champagne and a lot of shouting and dancing”. 

After China's untimely exit in the quarters, locals rallied around the Danes, favouring their relentless pace on the court and emotional displays in victory and defeat. 

“I wasn't a Denmark fan when I came here, but I liked seeing them fight. I love the team's passion,” said newly minted Danish supporter Ji Fan after the win. 

Thirteen-time Thomas Cup winners Indonesia were fighting to end their 14-year drought at the World Badminton Championship.

MATCH-FIXING

Denmark makes racket over ‘match-fixing’ Chinese badminton players

The national association for badminton in Denmark says the sport’s world federation should punish Chinese players for a match at last week’s Fuzhou China Open which has been described as a “farce”.

Denmark makes racket over 'match-fixing' Chinese badminton players
China's Junhui Li, left, and Yuchen Liu, seen here during a different match, lost in the controversial quarter-final in Fuzhou. AP Photo/Aaron Favila/Ritzau Scanpix

Bo Jensen, director of Badminton Denmark, wants the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to take action after seeing footage of a quarter final match in which He Jiting and Ta Qiang defeated Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen in three sets.

“I am giving my support to the criticism. This is cheating, it’s match-fixing and we can’t accept it,” Jensen said to TV2 Sport.

“In our context, this is just as bad as doping, and it must be punished because if it is not, we will damage the sport’s reputation amongst fans and the many sponsors that are making huge investments at the moment,” he added.

Several Danish badminton players are reported to have been present during the match. Doubles pair Mads Pieler Kolding and Mads Conrad-Petersen lodged a complaint with tournament organisers following the match about the way it had been played.

Another player, Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, later posted an update on Facebook in which he compared the match to a scandal during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when eight players from China, South Korea and Indonesia were disqualified for deliberately trying to lose.

“This was a complete farce of a match which made me think of the London Olympics when 4 pairs deliberately tried to lose their matches. I kid you not, it was this bad,” Vittinghus wrote, citing errors in play that “just (don’t) happen at this level”.

“Difficult to get hard evidence, but if you have watched a bare minimum of world class badminton, you’d know what just happened,” he also wrote.

The BWF told TV2 Sport that it would not comment on the issue prior to receiving a report from the tournament’s organisers.

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