23 of May 1999. Brøndbyhallen, Denmark. Camilla Martin, shrouded by the Danish flag, on the podium and on top of the world. Goosebumps as the national anthem was sung by 6000 emotional overwhelmed Danes. Just a few minutes previous, the Dane played a match, which was later considered as the most spectacular and thrilling World Championships finals of all time.
The year 1999. It was that time when Camilla Martin and her then boyfriend Peter Gade had been the most glamorous pair in the whole country. A pair of real sport superstars everybody wanted to meet and see. The World Championships on home soil was to be the crowning moment in both their careers. But while Gade lost his dramatic semi-final to Fung Permadi, it was Camilla Martin who kept the Danish chances of a gold medal alive. Nobody in the sold out arena expected a match like it happened on the 23 of May 1999.
Dai Yun was Camilla’s finals opponent. A Chinese to whom she had lost only eight days ago in the Sudirman Cup final (5-11, 11-9, 13-9).
The whole country was looking for revenge. Camilla took the opening game 11-6, while Dai Yun fought back to take the second game. It all looked promising in the rubber-game as the Danish princess lead comfortably 10-3. Only one more point to become the first Danish World Champion in the women’s singles since Lene Køppen in 1977. But Camilla Martin lost control of the game and the Chinese came back to level it. Dai had rallied for seven straight points to tie the game. From 3-10 to 10-10 in about 5 minutes. Feeling the pressure the 25-year old from Aarhus showed one finger to the umpire as if to ask clarification that there was no setting. The next point will decide the game, the World Championships title.
Camilla Martin appeared trance like – so did Dai Yun
But it was also match-point for the 21-year old Chinese. Camilla decided to change her tactics and to push the shuttles into the same corner of the court a couple of times to force Dai Yun to make an easy mistake. Success!! The tactic worked. Serve-is-over and now Match-Point Camilla Martin. The Dane used the same tactic and Dai Yun made another mistake after a beautiful drop-shot very close to the net. Camilla threw her racket away and burst into tears. She appeared trance like. Dai Yun was stunned, she could not believe that the match was over.
“I was absolutely sure the match would last until 13”, she later said in an interview.
”I am sure she saw my one finger I showed to the umpire, which means no setting. But I have to say she looked very disbelieving, when I thanked her for the match”, said Camilla Martin after the showdown.
"I played one of my finest matches ever. When I was in the 10-3 lead, I thought on the match we had some days ago where she also came back and beat me. That’s why I lost the control.”
Camilla Martin facts:
Denmark Open 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002
European Champion 1996, 1998 and 2000
All England Champion 2002
World Champion 1999
Olympic Silver medal 2000
Article by Manuel Rösler.