Denmark earnt their 18th European Mixed Team Championships title in Vantaa, Finland on Saturday the 20th February. They did not drop a set in the final, winning the first three ties to render the fourth and fifth ties futile.
The holders have in fact won the past three editions of the biennial competition and have won all but one Championship since 1996.
The final day was in the end a short affair as the Danes made short work of France’s first final visit, but Denmark did not have it all their own way earlier in the week.
Group stage & semi-finals round up:
The only other winners in the 21st century, Germany and Denmark pipped Scotland and Finland in Group 1, whilst Russia and France beat England and the Netherlands to qualify from Group 2.
Having lost 4-1 earlier in the week, France overcame Russia in the semi-finals on Friday to reach a first European Mixed Team Championships Final ever.
Thoma Junior Popov’s victory over Vladimir Malkov particularly saw some supremely fast rallies showing great racket skills and reactions. The Frenchman came through 14-21 21-17 21-15 with Russia 1-0 up after the first match of the semi-finals. This game saw both men on their knees for a surprisingly high percentage of the match! Popov having earlier in the week lost to English youngster Johnnie Torjussen.
The middle match of the five-part semi-final saw Lea Palermo/Anne Tran beat Alina Davletova/Evgeniya Kosetskaya 21-18 23-25 21-11 to see the French up 2-1. A comfortable win for Vladimir Ivanov/Ivan Sozonov set up a decider for which Thom Gicquel/Delphine Delrue had to play Rodion Alimov/Alina Davletova, a Russian pair they had never before beaten (5 losses).
18-21 21-15 21-9 the score, France taking it 3-2 and able to sit back and watch the second semi, awaiting their final opponents.
Arguably even bigger drama came later in the day though as holders Denmark met Germany in a rematch of the 2019 final.
Of course, Viktor Axelsen won his leg comfortably versus Max Weißkirchen, and Mia Blichfeldt did her part, but Germany won the mixed and men’s doubles to bring it all down to the women’s doubles.
After nearly losing their cool having wasted a few match points, eventually the Danes came through 21-19 in the decider after 82 minutes of fabulous Friday night viewing.
There is little time to rest for the Danish team and Axelsen in particular now that countries are making up for lost time hosting tournaments via the use of secure bio-bubbles wherever possible.
Without Kento Momota and compatriot Anders Antonssen entering the Swiss Open, Axelsen is seeded number one for the Olympic qualifying tournament which starts 2nd March.
China and Japan have stopped any of their players from entering the Basel-based tournament which Axelsen won in 2014.