BWF World Superseries: Viktor Axelson upsets Chen Long

In the women’s semi-finals, Nozomi Okuhara proved her 21-9, 21-15 defeat of Carolina Marin on Friday was no flash in the pan by subduing the world champion 21-11, 21-12 on Saturday. The Japanese shuttler thus made it four wins in a row, vanquishing world no. 2 Saina Nehwal and defending champion Tzu Ying Tai along the way.

Viktor Axelsen celebrates after beating Chen Long in the men's semi-final match.   -  Getty Images

Viktor Axelsen pulled off the biggest upset of the BWF World Superseries, toppling two-time world champion Chen Long 21-12, 21-17 at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Saturday.

“This is the biggest win of my career and I just want to celebrate, not with family and friends, but by myself in a small way,” said the 2010 world junior champion. His father Henrik, who was close at hand, was savouring his son’s huge feat.

“My performance exceeded my expectations,” said the native of Odense, Denmark. “I went out to enjoy the game and it worked for me. I hope to go into the final with the same attitude but there’s bound to be a little tension,” he confessed.

“It has been a good year and very satisfying to finish it off well,” said the 194-cm tall Dane. Some indication of the magnitude of his achievement can be gauged by his opponent’s credentials.

Chen, besides winning the world championship two years on the trot, won five superseries in England, Malaysia, Australia, Korea and Denmark in the year drawing to a close.

Axelsen said that in seven of their earlier meetings, each of them won by the Chinese wizard, Long would take a big lead in the second game and there was no stopping him after that. After Chen led early in the second game, Axelsen equalized and didn’t let go.

“I just focused on the next rally without thinking of the results,” said the lanky 21-year-old, pumping his fists as he drew near to doing the impossible.

“Axelsen was in better form and his focus was better too,” said Long, for whom the result was unexpected. He hoped to not get injured from the next season onwards.

In the women’s semi-finals, Nozomi Okuhara proved her 21-9, 21-15 defeat of Carolina Marin on Friday was no flash in the pan by subduing the world champion 21-11, 21-12 on Saturday. The Japanese shuttler thus made it four wins in a row, vanquishing world no. 2 Saina Nehwal and defending champion Tzu Ying Tai along the way.

“Beating the world champion twice in under 24 hours was a wonderful feeling,” said the 21-year-old with a broad smile.

“I had to back up yesterday’s win with one more today. Or yesterday’s victory would have become inconsequential,” she observed.

“My ability to focus was important. I didn’t let anything distract me, focusing only on my game,” she said. Asked whether her 5’ 1’’ height was a disadvantage, she said it wasn’t, saying it was of little consequence to a good player.

Marin said she needed a break badly, being quite exhausted. Explaining her latest loss, the Spaniard said, “This is a big arena and shuttle movement is slow. That suits Okuhara’s game more.” 

The aggressive southpaw was generous in defeat though, predicting the Japanese player would take the crown.

Results (all semi-finals):

Men:

Singles: Viktor Axelson (Den) bt Chen Long (Chi) 21-12, 21-17; Kento Momoto (Jap) bt Jan O Jorgensen (Den) 21-19, 21-18.

Doubles: Biao Chai/ Wei Hong (Chi) bt Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Den) 17-21, 21-19, 24-22; Mohammad Ahsan/ Hendra Setiawan (Indo) bt Yong Dae Lee/Yeon Seong Yoo (Kor) 21-17, 22-24, 21-15.

Women:

Singles: Nozomi Okuhara (Jap) bt Carolina Marin (Spa) 21-11, 21-12; Wang Yihan (Chi) bt Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) 21-12, 21-12.

Doubles: Christinna Pedersen/ Kamilla Rytter Juhl (Den) bt Nitya Krishinda Maheshwari/Greysia Polii (Indo) 21-17, 21-12; Ying Luo/Yu Luo (Chi) bt Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (Jap) 21-19, 21-19.

Mixed doubles: KO Sung Hyun Ko/Ha Na Kim (Kor) bt Chun Hei Lee/Wah Hoi Chau (HK) 21-15, 20-22, 21-12; Sung Hyun Ko/ Ha Na Kim (Kor) bt Chun Hei Reginald Lee/ Hoi Wah Chau (HK) 21-15, 20-22, 21-12.