Axelsen defeats Nishimoto to win Malaysia Masters

World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark defeated Japan's Kenta Nishimoto 21-13, 21-23, 21-18 in a gruelling match to win the Malaysia Masters final on Sunday.

Top-seeded Axelsen was pushed to the limits in the see-saw battle in the capital Kuala Lumpur, eventually seizing his maiden 2018 title after 72 minutes of play.   -  AFP

World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark defeated Japan's Kenta Nishimoto 21-13, 21-23, 21-18 in a gruelling match to win the Malaysia Masters final on Sunday.

Top-seeded Axelsen was pushed to the limits in the see-saw battle in the capital Kuala Lumpur, eventually seizing his maiden 2018 title after 72 minutes of play.

The 24-year-old Dane faced a gutsy Nishimoto, who had scalped higher ranked opponents in his gallant run, including world number two Lee Chong Wei in the first round.

Axelsen took the lead with a comfortable 21-13 first game win with his killer overhead cross court smashes, but Nishimoto rallied back to level the tie 23-21.

The Japanese kept a stellar defence against the attack minded Axelsen in the decider, but the lanky Dane's deadly net play proved the difference for 21-18 victory.

Axelsen, who won the world title in 2017, is hoping that he will be able to repeat that form this year.

"The conditions here were really tricky, in the past I have had a few upsets in windy conditions. It's a big win for me," said Axelsen, who ripped off his shirt and threw it into the crowd in celebration.

The Dane reiterated calls for Badminton World Federation (BWF) to review a controversial new tournament ruling that will require players to compete in more matches.

"I would like to play 10 years more, so if BWF wants to give us a fine for taking care of our bodies, then that's their decision. But I don't see it as the right way to do it," he said.

Players must now take part in 12 tournaments a year, an additional two from the previous structure.

In the women's singles, Thailand's Ratchanok Intanon edged Taiwanese top seed Tai Tzu Ying 21-16, 14-21, 24-22.

Results (x denotes seeding):

Finals

Men's Singles

Viktor Axelsen (DEN x1) bt Kenta Nishimoto (JPN) 21-13, 21-23, 21-18

Women's Singles

Ratchanok Intanon (THA x5) bt Tai Tzu Ying (TPE x1) 21-16, 14-21, 24-22

Men's Doubles

Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto (INA) bt Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong (MAS) 14-21,24-22, 21-13

Women's Doubles

Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen (DEN x3) bt Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (CHNx1) 22-20, 21-18

Mixed Doubles

Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet (HKGx2) bt Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong (CHNx5) 19-21, 22-20, 21-18