The Star Online > Sports
Saturday May 8, 2004
Christensen: Denmark have good chance to lift Thomas Cup



THOMAS-UBER CUP FINALS: JAKARTA, INDONESIA

THE pundits have picked hosts Indonesia and China as the overwhelming favourites to contest the Thomas Cup final. Top Danish singles player Peter-Gade Christensen begs to differ.

He feels the Danes have as good a chance as any of the Asian teams to win the prestigious men’s team title competition.

Christensen did not feature in the previous Finals in Guangzhou two years ago but the Danish side still reached the semi-finals. They upset a balanced South Korean side 3-2 in the group match and qualified as the runner-ups behind hosts China.

However, Denmark lost 0-3 to eventual winners Indonesia.

But with Christensen back in the team and backed by two formidable doubles pairs in Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen and Jens Erikssen-Martin Lundgaard, the Danish teams’ hopes of achieving a breakthrough win have soared.

Paaske-Rasmussen are the current world number one pair and reigning world champions while Erickssen-Lundgaard won the All-England title this year. Their reserve doubles player is Mathias Boe.

Denmark have reached the final six times in the history of the Thomas Cup Finals. The last time they played in the final was in 1996 in Hong Kong but they went down 0-5 to Indonesia.

“I did not play because I was injured. Now, our doubles line-up is strong and we can look forward to them delivering at least one point, if not two.

“With the singles, we will do our best to make Denmark the first European team to lift the Thomas Cup title,” said the former world number one and 2001 World Championships finalist.

Christensen, the European Championships winner for the third time this year, has never failed to deliver a crucial point each time he is fielded at first singles.

It will not be any different this time. Surprisingly, the 28-year-old is the youngest singles player in the team. The others are Kenneth Jonassen, Anders Boesen, Niels Christian Kaldau and 1997 world champion Peter Rasmussen.

Also working in Denmark’s favour is a very kind draw.

They should not have any trouble securing a place in the last four from Group D, which also has Japan and England.

The Danes are expected to cruise into the quarter-finals and meet either Group B runners-up or the third-ranked team from Group A.

In Group B are South Korea, Germany and New Zealand. Group A has top seeds China, defending champions Indonesia and United States.

“We cannot complain about the draw. It is a good one and gives us a good chance to put pressure on the other teams,” said Christensen who, surprisingly, likes to play in front of the hostile Jakarta crowd.

“Senayan is one of the best venues to play badminton. There are thousands of people present and the atmosphere can either fire up a person or make him nervous. “For me, it makes me play better.”