Rovshan Safarov is Azerbaijan’s only chance of a gold medal on the second day of the IBSA Judo Grand Prix in Baku.
In the 90kg category, Safarov demolished Ukrainian world champion Oleksandr Nazarenko, scoring ippon only three seconds into the semi-final.
Paralympic medalist Safarov has to beat Iranian Vahid Nouri if the fans at Baku’s Heydar Aliyev Sport Arena are to sing the Azerbaijani anthem at the end of a tough day on the mat for the national team.
On his way to the final, Nouri defeated World Championship silver medalist Vladimir Fedin from Russia in the semi-finals. But Safarov is determined to improve on his bronze medal performance at this year’s World Championships and wave the flag for Azerbaijan.
Oleksandr Nazarenko, a finalist in last year’s last World Championship, and Russia’s Vladimir Fedin face each other in the bronze medal contest. Nazarenko defeated Frenchman Helios Latchoumanaya for a shot at third place, while Fedin saw off Moldovian Oleg Cretul.