General

(Photo: Badminton Photo)
The forty-five-year wait ends
Date: 10/18/2020 4:55 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
Marcus Ellis/ Chris Langridge made a great comeback against the 2016 All England Open champions Vladimir Ivanov/ Ivan Sozonov to win their first top-tier BWF title. They become the first English pair to lift the men’s doubles trophy in Denmark after David Eddy/ Eddy Sutton in 1975.

- I wouldn’t say that we are the kings of Europe. There are other pairs of a similar standard. Today, we were a bit lucky and played slightly better. It is fantastic to be playing again, Langridge said.

Match breakdown
Coming into today’s final, the Russians had a favourable 4-0 record but the English had played better badminton in the tournament so far.

The English had earlier claimed that none of the top players are at their best, following the seven-month break. The statement resonated throughout the encounter as both pairs struggled to find the rhythm. It was a thrilling final, but had some lower quality patches.

Ellis and Langridge took control of the opening game and led most of the way. However, they let it slip at 18-14 as the Russians took five straight points and then wrapped it up. The next game was a replication of the first for the major part. The English pair maintained a cushion throughout and managed to win the game. 

A great comeback
The hard-hitting Ivanov came out with all guns blazing in the decider. He took control of the net and the Russians soon led 7-2 and 9-4. Anyhow, the English were tactically aware of the situation.

- The plan was to neutralise their attack. Ivanov’s first attack is so dangerous! It comes down with angle and power. We explored their weaknesses: we got them moving and all the gaps opened up the court, Ellis observed.

- They can reel off quick points. Yesterday, they got like 5-6 points in a minute. We got them into playing rallies, he continued.

- We were controlling the play in the third game. After that, we made some unforced errors and they made a good comeback. We lost our concentration and confidence. Today, they played well, Sozonov said.

However, Ellis and Langridge made an incredible comeback. After levelling the score at 9-9, they were the better pair of the two. Riding on the confidence, the match was theirs 20-22, 21-17, 21-18 in 74 minutes. In doing so, they also beat the Russians for the first time in their five meetings.

Rising to the occasion
- We can raise our level when needed. We have scraped through in the tournament but we played better today, Langridge asserted.

- We keep digging and fighting even when things go against us. We support and respect each other. Therefore, we do well as a partnership, he continued.

The yellow card
Talking about the yellow card given by the umpire in the third game, Langridge felt that it was over the top.

- I know that I am annoying on court but it gets tough. If the shuttle is fine, play on. There are so many birds, don’t we have enough feathers left. We have to save the shuttles, he joked.

- We know him very well. He tries to change the tactics every time. It’s okay for us, Sozonov explained.

Lessons for the Russians
- We can take some lessons from this tournament. We will have an advantage in the World Tour Finals and the Asian leg next year, Sozonov was positive.

Another 4-0 record reversed
With the women’s doubles rapidly transitioning to an attack-based approach, it was all fireworks in the all-Japanese battle. Yuki Fukushima/ Sayaka Hirota attacked relentlessly to end a disappointing four-match losing streak against Mayu Matsumoto/ Wakana Nagahara. 

Running away with the first game and up 8-3 in the second, the world numbers twos looked set to have an easy win. However, their opponents raised their level to force a final game. The older pair put behind the second game as they convincingly won the decider to seal the match 21-10, 16-21, 21-18 in 71 minutes. 

Fukushima and Hirota reclaimed the title they won here two years ago.

- Most of our matches against them are close.  We need to be patient while keeping up the pace at the same time, Fukushima said.

- Usually, we don’t have much time to practice during the tournaments. During COVID, we had time to focus on the practice, Hirota said.

The Olympic dream
- We will be really excited if we can play them in the Tokyo Olympics final next year, Fukushima hoped.

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