PETALING JAYA: After coming agonisingly close in the Finals in Jakarta two years ago, Denmarks Peter Gade-Christensen believes that his team powered by old hands are back with greater passion and to take another shot at becoming the first European winners of the Thomas Cup.
The affable Gade-Christensen, who won the recent European Championship title for the fourth consecutive time, will be playing in his fifth Finals in Japan.
He warned the Asian big guns not to brush aside Denmarks assault in the Finals. He placed his side as the second strongest team in the fray after defending champions China.
There is a good chance for our team but I also thought that we had a good chance in Jakarta 2004, said Gade-Christensen in an e-mail to The Star.
We have never won the Thomas Cup but we came close a number of times. This time, we will be out to go one better and win the Cup.
In the 2004 Finals, Denmark sent defending champions and hosts Indonesia packing in the semi-finals. In the final, they went down fighting 1-3 to China. It was the seventh time that they finished as the runners-up.
Our preparation has been good and most of the players have been playing quite well under the new scoring format. China will still be the favourites and then Denmark followed by Indonesia and Malaysia ... maybe South Korea too, said Gade-Christensen.
His confidence of a good showing also stems from the good performances of the current team of experienced players.
The other members of the team are singles players Kenneth Jonassen, Niels Christensen Kaldau and Joachim Persson and the doubles pairs of Jens Eriksen-Martin Lundgaard Hansen, Mathias Boe-Carsten Morgensen and Jonas Rasmussen-Lars Paaske.
Only Kaldau, Persson and Boe-Morgensen are making their debuts.
In the recent European Championships, Eriksen-Lundgaard Hansen won the doubles gold medal and Denmark also emerged as the team champions. Eriksen-Lundgaard Hansen are also two-time All-England champions while Jonas-Paaske were the world champions in 2003.
We have two singles players who are capable of beating anyone. They are Kenneth and I. It will be close but both of us have a good chance against any opponent, said Gade-Christensen.
In the third singles, maybe players from countries like China and Indonesia have the edge over Joachim and Niels, but with the new scoring system, we will always have a chance.
Our doubles players have been playing well for a long time and so we will be the favourites in the first doubles and also stand a strong chance in the second. That means, we only have to win one singles. The chances are good for either Kenneth or me to have a good day.
Denmark are tipped to meet the winners of the quarter-final tie between Malaysia and either Indonesia or South Korea.
Gade-Christensen predicted that it would be a close affair against Malaysia.
Every match will be close. But we will have the edge in the second singles and both the doubles. In the first singles (between Gade-Christensen and Lee Chong Wei), it will be 50-50 and Malaysia will be the favourites to take the third singles.
Malaysia have beaten Denmark 10 times in 12 encounters in the series.