Men’s badminton world number one Viktor Axelsen regained his mojo to claim his eighth title for 2022, steamrolling Indonesian ace Anthony Ginting at the season-ending World Tour Finals in Bangkok on Sunday.
Reigning world champion Akane Yamaguchi of Japan defeated Taiwanese powerhouse Tai Tzu Ying to claim the women’s singles crown.
The Badminton World Federation had moved its $1.5 million flagship event to the Thai capital’s Nimibutr Arena after original host China dropped the tournament due to its tough Covid restrictions.
Axelsen, the defending champion, appeared fresh, relaxed, energetic and in control as he cruised to a 21-13 victory in game one.
His confidence had been shakey following a surprise loss to India’s H.S. Prannoy on Friday -- only his third defeat this year -- but he appeared to be a different player on Sunday.
Ginting struggled in the second game too, and was down eight points at the interval.
The world number seven put up a fight in the final few rallies but lacked stamina and patience as Axelsen galloped to a 10-point advantage, ultimately triumphing 21-14.
“It feels absolutely amazing,” Axelsen said post-match, after dancing across the court and thanking his wife and two young daughters in the crowd.
“I couldn’t have wished for a better ending (to the year).”
He attributed his solid recovery after two gruelling matches before the final to good rest and eating well.
A disappointed Ginting said he was looking forward to a big 2023 and hoped to grow in confidence.
“I cannot get any easy points from him,” Ginting said.
- Yamaguchi dominates -
In the women’s final, Yamaguchi was victorious in closely fought straight games -- 21-18, 22-20.
Tai -- the Tokyo Olympic silver medallist -- made a number of unforced errors and struggled to match Yamaguchi’s pace while maintaining shot quality.
Yamaguchi had a four-point advantage at the tail end of the first game and although Tai saved a couple of game points, the Japanese star was unstoppable.
The second game was filled with impressive net exchanges and electric rallies, with Yamaguchi again dominating.
Tai showed moments of brilliance but grew visibly frustrated as Yamaguchi inched closer to the trophy and her second end-of-year championship title.
“My opponent was skilled and quite strong, on the second game I was trying to do my best -- use all my skills and power,” Yamaguchi said post-match.
Tai praised her opponent’s net play and said her own defence had been lacking.
“Her speed was faster than mine which resulted in her having (an) advantage in attack,” Tai said.
In the men’s doubles, Chinese pair Liu Yuchen and Ou Xuanyi were too good for Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan, winning 21-17, 19-21, 21-12.
In the women’s doubles, Thai sisters Benyapa and Nuntakarn Aimsaard lost to Chinese duo Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan 21-13, 21-14.