Denmark Open Badminton 2022
Over the past week, Denmark Open Badminton 2022, a Super 750 tournament, was played at the Arena Fyn in Odense.
In the Men’s Division of Denmark Open Badminton 2022 — which took place from Oct. 18 to 23 in Odense — the most shocking and well-known news was without a doubt Viktor Axelsen’s loss to Loh Kean Yew in the quarterfinals of the tournament. Not only had the match ended Axelsen’s incredible 39-match winning streak, but Loh had also beat the Danish player on his home turf, crushing his dream to reach a 40-match winning streak and reclaim the championship title at home.
After a long break, lasting nearly two months, the Badminton World Federation World Tour series finally resumed competition, beginning with the Super 750 Denmark Open. Of the top four seeded players from the 2021 Denmark Open — Viktor Axelsen [one], Kento Momota [two], Anders Antonsen [three], Lee Zhi Jia [four] — only Jia was able to make it to the semifinals. Antonsen, a young Danish player ranked number two in World Badminton Rankings, withdrew from the tournament before its commencement due to injuries from training, allowing his first match opponent, Shi Yuqii, to walkover.
Former World Number one player Momota also announced his withdrawal from the tournament in mid-October. After his traffic accident in Indonesia and contracting COVID-19 in 2020, Momota had difficulty returning to the same physical state that brought him his 11-title-winning season in 2019. His loss in the preliminary round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics — carrying the heavy weight of the attention and hopes of his fellow Japanese fans — was a particularly devastating strike on his confidence. Three quarters into the 2022 BWF season, Momota won one title and dropped to number nine in the world rankings. Given his confirmation to also withdraw from the French Open occurring at the end of the month, Momota fans may have to wait a while to see him on the court again. For both seeded players, withdrawing from the Denmark Open will result in large point deductions, affecting their World Rankings and the race to the BWF World Tour Finals in Guangzhou, China.
After the massive win against Axelsen, Loh advanced to the semifinals against Jia. In the first game, Loh quickly gained a comfortable lead of five points from his accurate judgment of the shuttle landing, but Jia clearly had an upper hand with his athletic physique. The Malaysian opponent caught up, bringing the match to 8-8, and the game remained a close fight. In the final four serves of the game, Loh was exhausted by the fast-paced play and began to get caught up in Jia’s strategic backhand strokes, unable to regain the lead. Following the 21-18 loss, game two was an even tougher battle for Loh, yet Jia showed no signs of fatigue. Despite dragging himself to a fifth consecutive point, he was defeated by a lack of stamina and experience. The final score of the second game was 21-15, and the win sent Jia onwards for the chance to win his third championship title of the season.
The other semifinal match was played between Kodai Naraoka and Shi Yuqi. Yuqi, a former World Ranked No. 2 player from China, was playing his second tournament after a 10-month ban by the Chinese National Team. It was commonly believed that the internal ban was a penalty imposed as a consequence of his unsportsmanlike behavior at the Thomas Cup in 2020. During the tournament, Yuqi resigned against Kento Momota at 20-5. Following the conclusion of the game, Yuqi commented on social media that because he had resigned from the game before Momota had won his 21st point, it was not technically a “loss.” The controversy sparked rage and criticism; while Yuqi blamed his poor performance on injuries, Momota was also in the process of recovering from a serious traffic accident. Kodai Naraoka, on the other hand, was a new star from Japan, only beginning to win BWF World Tour titles in the 2022 season. In the quarterfinals, he had an overwhelming win over the runner-up of the All Englands Open 2022, Lakshya Sen. After the first eight serves, Naraoka was seven points behind and called a medical timeout. He lost the first game 15-21 but made a comeback in the second, 21-9. The third game was an intense wrestle, eventually settling in a deuce of 22-24 with Yuqi taking the match point.
Facing Yuqi at the championship match, Jia had struggled to keep the lead during the first game. Although both players are roughly the same height, Jia seemed to be more athletic than Yuqi, recovering chance shots from Yuqi with almost inhuman speed. However, Yuqi caught up by the 24th serve, bringing the score to 12-12. He set up his game meticulously, striking the shuttle to unexpected corners on Jia’s side. Drop shots! Kills! Jia was incapable of turning from defense back to offense, losing the first game 21-18. In the following game, nevertheless, Yuqi was unable to reproduce the same clever tactics. Jia remained ahead throughout the game, even reaching a commanding lead of 8-1. While the Chinese player scored five consecutive points in the second half, it was not enough for him to take the game back. Jia took the game 16-21. In the third match, Yuqi made a strong comeback, looking comparatively more focused than in the second game. He was solid at receiving, and the long rallies did not seem to exhaust him as much. The game was irreversible when Jia missed seven serves in a row, falling behind by nine points. Yuqi eventually took the final game 21-12 and thus the championship match, winning his first title of the 2022 season.
After the Denmark Open, BWF Super series will continue on Oct. 25 at Stade Pierre de Coubertin Paris, featuring the Super 750 French Open. This tournament will draw international attention, as it shares the same location with the upcoming 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. The top four seeded players of the tournament for the men’s single division are Axelsen, Andersen, Jia, and Chou Tien Chen from Taipei. With two Super 750 tournaments held back to back, the results of the French Open will be predominantly determined by how well each player recovers from their fatigue and injuries.