The pressure was on for many in the third day of the Group Stage. There have already been many big moments — amongst them, Minsk 2019 gold medallist Anders Antonsen not making it through the Group Stage.
Badminton athletes of all disciplines except for mixed doubles are having their last match of the Group Stage today. While some had already secured the necessary points to advance to the knockout stage, other players were feeling the pressure as their performance today would determine if they’d get to continue competing at the European Games 2023.
After Felix Burestedt, Sweden, yesterday caused an upset by beating Anders Antonsen, Denmark, the European Games 2019 champion now needed to win today’s match against Kalle Koljonen, Finland, in straight games. “I knew that prior to the match so it obviously was a stressful situation to be in, but it was also exciting. I was excited for the task, whether I could handle the pressure,” Antonsen stated.
Koljonen has had some remarkable performances in the European Circuit as well as in the past few days in Tarnow, and he continued to impress the crowd by winning the first game against Antonsen. It was that win that confirmed that the Dane would be out of the competition, as it meant that the Finnish player and Burestedt would take the top two spots of Group B.
Antonsen still gave it his all on court to win the match against Koljonen, although he knew he was already out of the European Games. “I don’t think I played a terrible match, but Kalle gave it his all in the first game and he succeeded. He had a lot to play for today and so did I, but he just needed to succeed in one game and unfortunately, he did that.”
“It is what it is. I’m very disappointed about this tournament but there’s nothing I can do now other than work and get better,” Antonsen continued reflecting on his feelings after being out of the European Games. The Dane will now go back to training and he mentioned consistency as one of the main points to work on. “I need to find consistency in my practice. There are still too many minor injuries that keep me out for too many sessions. I need to find consistency in the training, and I have showed multiple times this year that my level is up there.”
Now sitting on top of Group B, Koljonen looks back at the match in which Burestedt caused the upset yesterday, a win for the Swede that added extra pressure for the Finnish player to perform well. “That was crazy. I had done my part beating Felix and then Emre. I had such mixed feelings because if the upset would not have happened, today would have been more relaxed.”
Still, Koljonen went on today’s match ready to take on the challenge. “I’m experienced and a couple of hours before the match I was telling myself ‘Go all out and don’t think about what kind of group you are in’. If I want to get far in the tournament, I have to beat everyone or, at least, play well in every match.”
The Finnish player will have to wait until later today to see who he will be facing in the Rund of 16. “Now it’s time to recover and get ready for tomorrow. I don’t know who I’m going to play against tomorrow but until that, I will just relax.”
The draw will be taking place tonight — it’s scheduled to take place at 09.00pm, or after all matches of the day are finished. Stay tuned to see who will be facing who in the Round of 16 of the men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, and women’s doubles. The last matches of the mixed doubles group stage will be played Thursday morning.