On the third and final day of the 2019 Baku Grand Slam, former World Champion Nemanja Majdov of Serbia came to Baku with a mission - to show he was back on top. Defeating the current World Champion Nikoloz Sherazadishvili of Spain in the semi-final with a beautiful modified kata guruma, he looked set to succeed.
Home favourite Mammadali Mehdiyev stood in his way in the -90kg final, but nothing could stop the Serbian today, and he was victorious, using a driving counter to make him our Man of the Day.
"I like pressure, I like when I am against everybody. Whether it’s atmosphere against me or with me, for me it’s perfect. Because you know this is Judo. Judo is an amazing sport and we need to respect it and we need public. I like when the home crowd cheers for each other, and their guy," Nemanja Majdov said in an interview.
Luise Malzahn and Anna-Maria Wagner gave us a German derby in the -78kg final. And experience won out over youth. Two strong waza-ari scores, the first a counter to Wagner’s osoto attack, and the second a driving ouchi, meant Malzahn stood on top of a Grand Slam podium for the first time in five years, crowning her our Woman of the Day.
"I was a little bit surprised that I can score on her. I knew that this could be a victory today. Of course after a few minutes, she did more and more and more. I took a risk with the ouchi, that was the second [waza-ari], and it was my victory," Luise Malzahn said in an interview.
Dutch dynamo Michael Korrel was on fire all day, demolishing each of his opponents in the -100kg category using a combination of his lightning fast kouchi, and consistently strong dropping techniques. Defeating Russia's Kazbek Zankishiev in the final, the former World Number 1 stood on his first Grand Slam podium since the prestigious Paris tournament last year.
The +78kg category saw Yelyzaveta Kalanina dominate the women's heavyweights, as a fantastic osoto launched Bosnia's World silver medalist Larisa Ceric for ippon, claiming gold for Ukraine.
Georgia’s Junior World Champion Gela Zaalishvili had an incredible day, making quite an impression on the IJF World Judo Tour as he opened his senior medal account on the international stage with a defeat over Russia’s Ruslan Shakhbazov in the +100kg final, taking his first major senior gold.
Japan stay atop of the medals standings
Japan managed to stay on top of the medals standings table despite some surprise setbacks for Japanese judokas on the final day of the thrilling three-day tournament, ahead of Brazil in second place in the medals table and hosts Azerbaijan in third.
Move of the Day
Our Move of the Day came from Russia’s Khusen Khalmurzaev. Facing off against one of the new forces in the -90kg category, Sanshiro Murao, he demonstrated that the Japanese youngster still has some way to come. Attacking with uchi-mata, before stepping behind Murao, Khalmurzaev lifted Murao off the ground and planted him on his back for an emphatic ippon.
So much incredible judo action over the last few days here in Baku, and what a great way to round it off. See you in China on May 24.