Thanks for tuning into Sportstar's  LIVE coverage of the men's singles final of the All England Open 2022 between India's Lakshya Sen and Denmark's Viktor Axelsen at t he Utilita Arena in Birmingham. This was Nihit Sachdeva taking you through the action as it unfolded.

Match report: Lakshya Sen finishes runner-up at All England Open

RECAP: Viktor Axelsen came out all guns blazing and ran into a 6-0 lead in the opening game in the blink of an eye. The Dane's strong smashes and the ability to keep Lakshya away from the net worked effectively. At the mid-game interval, Axelsen was 11-2 ahead. Lakshya tried to pull things back and had a much better second half. However, the gap was too big and Axelsen eventually closed it out at 21-10.

In the second game, it was neck and neck till 4-4 but post that, it was a script similar to the first game as Axelsen muscled his way to a 11-5 lead. Lakshya won three points in the row after the mid-game interval. Axelsen, sensing a comeback from Lakshya,  regathered himself and kept the attack going to make it 10-17. The two shuttlers played a 70-shot long rally with Axelsen ultimately misjudging one as it landed in. That did not effect him much though as soon, Axelsen had eight championship point opportunities at 20-12. The nerves probably got to the tall Dane as he wasted three of them. At 15-20, Lakshya's attempted drop shot didn't cross the net and it handed Axelsen his second All England Open title.

 

A classy gesture from both the players as they exchange their jerseys.

10-21, 15-21: VIKTOR AXELSEN IS ALL ENGLAND OPEN CHAMPION FOR THE SECOND TIME. Lakshya's drop shot hits the net and that's that.

10-21, 15-20: Three match points saved by Lakshya. Is the Olympic champion finally feeling the nerves?

10-21, 12-20: Eight-championship points for Axelsen. How well has he played tonight!

10-21, 11-18: Not this time though. Lakshya goes for the line with a smash but it lands wide.

10-21,  11-17: A 70-shot rally. Patient play from both the players as they lift the shuttle closer to the line before Axelsen lets one go thinking it will land wide only to find that his judgment was wrong.

10-21, 10-16: And he has. Lakshya seems to be running out of ideas now.

10-21, 10-15: A repeat of the same. Axelsen slowly restoring his six-point lead.

10-21, 9-14: Axelsen's not taking the foot off the pedal. A superb down the line smash and Lakshya's return lands just wide.

10-21, 9-12: Too eager. Axelsen goes for a down the line smash early in the rally and sends it wide.

10-21, 8-11: Precise lift from Lakshya, Axelsen misjudges, the shuttle finds the back line and point for the Indian.

10-21, 7-11: Two consecutive points for Lakshya. Is the comeback on?

10-21, 5-11: Six-point advantage at the mid-game interval for Axelsen.

10-21, 5-10: Saved once, saved twice but not at the third time of asking. Axelsen's jump smashes had just too much power for Lakshya to defend.

10-21, 5-9: Backhand return from Lakshya hits the net. A four-point cushion for Axelsen.

10-21, 4-7: Three points in a row for Axelsen as he smashes one much closer to the side line creating uncertainty in Lakshya's mind who hits a weak return.

10-21, 4-4: Parity restored. Lakshya smashes one down the line. Axelsen challenges the call unsuccessfully.

10-21, 3-4: This time, it is Axelsen who misjudges as Lakshya's backhand lift lands well inside.

10-21, 1-3: Axelsen's lift lands long. First point of the second game for Lakshya.

10-21, 0-3: Lakshya drives one long. Similar script as the first game so far.

10-21, 0-2: Incredible defense from Axelsen forces Lakshya to look for the line but he sends it wide.

10-21, 0-1: Axelsen keeps the momentum going with a cross court smash which goes only as a far as the net after Lakshya returns with a dive.

10-21: AXELSEN WINS THE OPENING GAME as Lakshya sends one wide yet again.

9-20: Eleven game point opportunities for Axelsen and he has totally deserved them.

8-19: An uncharacteristic miss from Axelsen as he hits one into the net amid someone from the crowd shouting " Go Lakshya!"

7-19: Another challenge from Lakshya as he goes for the cross court slice but the replay clearly shows it was out.

7-17: Axelsen misses the cross court smash but not by much. Still miles ahead of the Indian.

6-16: Lakshya unsuccessfully challenges his down the line smash which was well wide of the inner side line.

5-14: Axelsen is relentless. He keeps sending Lakshya towards the back of the court, waits for the lift and then kills it.

5-13: Beautiful cross court smash from Lakshya.

4-13: The drift is not helping Lakshya's cause as he sends another one long.

2-11: Lakshya realises a bit too late that the shuttle is landing inside the line before deciding to return. Axelsen is already there at the net and kills it easily. And there's the mid-game interval!

2-9: Axelsen makes Lakshya defend both corners of the court before eventually landing a crisp jump smash. First game firmly in the Danish player's control.

2-6: Well constructed point by Lakshya. He stayed in the rally all the way and when the chance came, hit a drop following it by a quick charge towards the net to bury it into the court.

1-6: Finally, Lakshya opens his account as he goes for the jump smash on Viktor's serve and lands it perfectly.

0-5: And we have the first challenge of the match. Axelsen hits a down the line smash which was ruled out but the replay shows that the shuttle landed on the line.

0-4: Error in judgment from Lakshya as the lift from Axelsen lands on the back line. Strong start for the 2020 champion.

0-3: Lakshya goes for the kill with a smash but the shuttle hits the net.

0-1: A gripping rally to begin the match and it is the Dane who wins the opening point.

....

AND THE MATCH IS UNDERWAY!!!

And now, first-time finalist carrying the hopes of a billion, Lakshya Sen.

The players enter the court. Firstly, it is the top seed and champion of the 2020 edition, Viktor Axelsen of Denmark. Axelsen is playing his fourth consecutive All England Open final.

Here's how India has fared in the finals at the All England Open:

1947 - Prakash Nath lost 7-15, 11-15 to Denmark's Conny Jepsen

1980 - Prakash Padukone beat Indonesia's Liem Swie King 15-3, 15-10

1981 - Prakash Padukone lost 15-11, 4-15, 6-15 to Indonesia's Liem Swie King

2001 - Pullela Gopichand beat China's Chen Hong 15-12, 15-6

2015 - Saina Nehwal lost 21-16, 14-21, 7-21 to Spain's Carolina Marin

Here's what Lakshya said after his impressive semifinal win over defending champion Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia yesterday-

 

PREVIEW-

Lakshya Sen is one win away from ending India's 21-year-wait for an All England Open title. However, the man that stands between him and the trophy in Birmgham on Sunday is world number one and reigning Olympic champion - Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

The 20-year-old shuttler from Almora is only the fifth Indian ever to reach the final of the prestigious tournament. While Prakash Padukone (1980) and Pullela Gopichand (2001) won the trophy, Prakash Nath (1947) and Saina Nehwal (2015) failed at the final hurdle.

A product of the Prakash Padukone Badminton Academy in Bengaluru, Sen has been in tremendous form in the last six months with a world championship bronze medal and a first Super 500 title at India Open beating reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in the final. Last week, he finished as runner-up at the German Open where he beat Axelsen in three games on his way to the final.

 

At the ongoing All England Open, Lakshya began his campaign with a 21-17, 21-7 victory over compatriot Sourabh Verma in the opening round. The world number 11 then stunned world number 3 Anders Antonsen of Denmark 21-16, 21-18 in the second round before getting a walkover in the quarterfinal as his Chinese opponent Lu Guang Zu pulled out with an injury.

In the semifinal on Saturday, India's highest ranked male shuttler was up against defending champion Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia. Showing nerves of steel and brilliant tactical acumen, he came back from 12-16 down in the third game to beat Zii Jia 21-13, 12-21, 21-19 in a match that lasted one hour 16 minutes.

Against Axelsen, Sen has a head-to-head record of 1-4 but the recent victory at the German Open is bound to give him confidence.

Where to watch?

The All England Open 2022 Men's Singles Final between Lakshya Sen and Viktor Axelsen will be live telecast on History TV 18 and live streamed on Voot and JioTV.