Badminton powerhouse Viktor Axelsen clinched victory in the Japan Open final on Sunday while An Se-Young of South Korea took the women’s trophy to secure her promotion to World No. 1.
The Danish World No.1 one fended off a brave challenge from Jonatan Christie of Indonesia to win 21-7, 21-18 in a match that lasted 45 minutes.
After cruising through the first game, Axelsen struggled in the second with his 3-0 lead becoming an 8-13 deficit at one point, as Christie fired a barrage of sizzling shots at the reigning world champion.
“It’s always a tough game, playing against Jonatan Christie. But I came out really strong. He seemed a little bit tense” especially early in the match, Axelsen said.
“Winning titles is always hard,” he added. “Second game, I was under quite a bit of pressure. But I am happy about how I came back.”
Axelsen said he was focused on the World Championships slated for next month in Denmark.
In women’s singles, world number two An beat He Bing Jiao of China 21-15, 21-11.
With the victory, the South Korean was set to rise to the world number one spot, replacing Japan’s reigning world champion Akane Yamaguchi, who crashed out in the quarterfinals.
“I was so happy that when I won I didn’t know what to say and how to describe it in words,” she said in a post-victory press conference.
“This has been my dream. It is now just sinking in.”
When asked about her hopes for the World Championships and the 2024 Paris Olympics, An said she was only focused on her next match.
“I don’t have a lot of experience. I have not won major, big tournaments. I want to continue what I am doing and sharpen my strength,” she said. “My offence is still weak. I learned a lot from this tournament. “I want to continue my training so that I can qualify for the Olympics.”
In the men’s doubles, Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin of Taiwan lifted the trophy after beating Japanese duo Takuro Hoki and Yugo Kobayashi 21-19, 21-13.
South Korean women’s doubles team Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong took the tournament with a 21-17, 21-14 win over China’s Chen Qing Chen and Jia Yi Fan.
In mixed doubles, Japanese team Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino beat Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand.
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