Russia’s defending men’s doubles champions and top seeds Ivan Sozonov and Vladimir Ivanov (main picture) suffered an agonising exit in the semi-finals of the 25th European Championships at La Roche-sur Yon this afternoon.
The Yonex All England champions were locked in a thrilling battle with Denmark’s fourth seeds Kim Astrup and Anders Skaarup Rasmussen when disaster struck at 16-16 in the decider as Sozonov fell to the floor in agony, leaving Ivanov to try to keep the rally going single-handed.
The Danes apologetically took the point to make it 17-16 and after lengthy treatment Sozonov was forced to retire.
The tournament doctor reported a broken right tendon and Badminton Europe Events Director Jimmy Andersen said: “We are going to try to get an ultrasound scan at the hospital to see if that’s the case.”
The seriousness of the injury will determine whether he is ruled out of the Olympics.
So the Danes went through 21-19 14-21 17-16 and will now face team-mates Mads Conrad and Mads Kolding in an all-Danish final after the second seeds defeated England’s third seeds Chris Langridge and Marcus Ellis 21-14 21-14.
The Russians’ exit also ended the possibility of all the defending champions retaining their titles, something that had never happened before in the previous 24 European Championships.
Denmark had begun finals day still in the hunt for all five gold medals, having already guaranteed themselves at least 10 bronze and a certain silver from the one all-Danish clash.
They are now assured three golds – men’s singles and doubles and the mixed.
In the mixed doubles defending champions Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen began the semi-final action with a 21-17 21-8 win over Dutch third seeds Jacco Arends and Selena Piek.
And with the other semi-final being that all-Danish affair, Mathias Christiansen and Lena Grebak were unable to repeat their quarter-final triumph over top seeds Chris and Gabby Adcock as they fell to eighth seeds Niclas Nohr and Sara Thygesen 15-21 21-18 21-17 in a tense match marred by a high number of service faults and with both men being called up before the umpire for remonstrating at line calls.
The Danes are also assured a men’s singles gold after defending champion Jan O Jorgensen defeated England’s Rajiv Ouseph 21-11 21-16 and Viktor Axelsen ( pictured above) got the better of Germany’s 2012 champions Marc Zweibler 21-10 23-21.
Jorgensen defeated Axelsen in straight games two years ago but tomorrow’s final promises to be a great contest.
But Denmark’s hopes of a clean sweep of titles vanished when Spain’s title holder and double World champion Carolina Marin defeated third seed Line Kjaersfeldt 23-21 21-15 despite suffering a shoulder scare in the first game.
Then second seed Kirsty Gilmour pulled victory from the jaws of defeat in a gripping battle with unseeded Anna Thea Madsen winning 17-21 21-18 21-19 with all the drama and excitement coming at the end with Gilmour winning on her second match point after diving to get the shuttle over the net then getting up in time to carry on the rally and finally clipping the winning shot down before the scampering Madsen could get to it.
“It was a crazy final point,” said Gilmour, who last night became the first Scot to secure a singles medal at any Europeans. Her guaranteed silver will be the best achievement by a Scot at any Europeans but tomorrow she is going for gold, encouraged by the fact that she has beaten Marin once before – at the 2014 Spanish Open – but trails 4-1 overall.
For two games it was a scrappy contest but the decider was high drama with a big section of the packed crowd roaring on Gilmour. She trailed 11-9 at the interval in the decider but hit back at her preferred end by winning six of the next seven points to put daylight between her and Madsen at 15-12.
Four times the unseeded 2014 silver medallist closed to within a point but determined Gilmour just wouldn’t let her get level and after what she described as “a crazy final point” she fell to the floor in celebration before pointing at coach Chris Bruil then taking a running jump into his arms.
Afterwards she said: ““I feel happy, feel relief, I feel excited, tired all of those things. I am just delighted. Remaining calm on court not getting ahead of myself, not thinking too much was the key.”
Of her dive on the second match point she said: “It’s just reflexes, it’s not something I train or something I plan at all. It’s survival – and It comes with bumps and bruises. I was delighted to get that last point but I think I broke my heart rate monitor in the process.”
Marin said: “I am happy to be in the final. I was a little bit scared because I could feel some pain in my (left) shoulder.
“But I didn’t want to let it worry me and I was able to relax in the second game. The final is going to be very tough. I don’t want to feel the pressure. I want to enjoy the game and enjoy this amazing crowd.”
The day’s final two matches featured the two other unseeded contenders but like Madsen and Christiansen and Grebak, they fell by the wayside.
Denmark’s Maiken Fruegaard and Sara Thygesen went down to Dutch second seeds Eefje Muskens and Selena Piek (pictured above) 21-17 21-17.
The win made up for Piek’s mixed doubles disappointment and denied Thygesen a second final.
In the other semi-final the unseeded Dutch pair of Samantha Barning and Iris Tabeling could not repeat their success over fourth seeds Carla Nelte and Johanna Goliszewski last night.
Defending champions Pedersen and Kamilla Rytter Juhl were too good as they won 21-9 21-13 and will now bid for their fourth title together to go with Kamilla’s two mixed while Pedersen is aiming for a second mixed title tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s finals start at 2pm.
For all results from day 5 of the European Championships click HERE
For a full photo gallery from day 5 at #EC16 click HERE
Article by William Kings. Photos Mark Phelan (LIVE)