(Photo: Badminton Photo)
A fairy tale in Odense
Date: 10/17/2020 5:48 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
Anders Antonsen will play Rasmus Gemke in the Denmark Open 2020 men’s singles final. Antonsen has said that he is not sure if anything like this has happened in the sport before.
After Jan O Jorgensen said his emotional goodbye in a fitting quarterfinal loss to Anders Antonsen, he agreed it was a great ending to his story, but perhaps not a fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen, born in the host city. Perhaps Antonsen and Gemke, childhood friends making the final together, certainly is. 

The beginning of the magical story was written when Gemke overturned a 0-3 head to head against Kenta Nishimoto. They last played earlier in the year at the Indonesia Masters, where it was a two-game victory for the Japanese ace hoping to represent Japan at the Tokyo Olympics alongside Kento Momota. 

This time Gemke ripped up the form book and won 21-14, 21-17 in very positive style. 

-I was able to control the rallies a lot more this time around and take my chances. I am very happy I can break the trend and play my game against him, Gemke said with a grin.

In the other semifinal, the middle part of the story was written. Antonsen faced Chou Tien Chen, a player he has played many times before and had some iconic matches against. Chou also boasted a 7-1 head to head against the Dane, with the last encounter being the semifinal of the All England this year, where Antonsen was forced to retire early with a sprained ankle. 

There was an expectation for another one of their three-game thrillers, however, this time it was very business-like from Antonsen, winning 21-17, 21-15. 

-We have played some crazy matches in the past. I think this one was also a good match, especially the first game which was a close one. But I am happy with my level today and my gameplan worked out, Antonsen stated. 

-It requires a lot of patience to beat Chou and you need to be physical. I was really aware on the court today, did not make a lot of mistakes and was ready to work hard as well. 

The end
The ending of this incredible story will happen tomorrow. It is hard to imagine what both Antonsen and Gemke will be dreaming of the night before the final, knowing that they will wake to the prospect of facing their childhood friend for the Denmark Open title. 

-It’s very special because we have been friends since we were small, growing up in Aarhus. We have been together through this badminton journey and meeting in the final will be amazing, Gemke said with a big smile. 

It is clear that for Antonsen, this significant moment is only just sinking in. 

-We grew up together on the same street, we went to the same school and were practising together since we were seven or eight years old, Antonsen thoughtfully explains.

Antonsen will be favourite to lift the title, with a 3-0 head to head. The two actually faced off in the last World Tour event, the All England Open, before the COVID-19 cancellations. In the quarterfinal, Antonsen took the victory in two swift games. 

With the final words of this fairy tale to be written tomorrow, Antonsen succinctly sets up the heartwarming final that it will be. 
-I am not sure if anything like that has happened in the sport before, so it's crazy! It is amazing that we are both here on this stage and I am proud of both of us. 

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