All England Championships: Defending champions Axelsen, Matsuyama-Shida, Watanabe-Higashino crash out on same day
Both of last year's men's finalists, Viktor Axelsen and Lakshya Sen, lost on Thursday at the All England Open in Birmingham.
Birmingham: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen was one of three defending champions to crash out on a day of shocks at the All England Open.
Reigning Olympic champion Axelsen suffered a stunning 21-18, 9-21, 23-21 loss to Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong in the men’s singles second round on Thursday.
“It’s one of the most special tournaments to me,” Axelsen said.
“It’s one of the biggest on the circuit so I want to do well. And when you fail. It’s tough.”
Axelsen’s loss followed on from compatriot Anders Antonsen beating 2022 runner-up Lakshya Sen in straight games, meaning neither of last year’s finalists reached even the last eight.
Axelsen’s exit was part of a sequence of unexpected departures for the big guns.
Japanese duo Nami Matsuyama and Chiharu Shida, the defending women’s doubles champions, were lost 18-21, 21-19, 21-9 to South Korean pair Baek Ha Na and Lee So Hee.
Japan’s Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino were chasing their third successive title in Birmingham in the mixed doubles.
However, they struggled against Korean pair Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun, and trailing 23-21, 13-7, the pair were forced to retire when Watanabe sustained an injury.
Their exit makes China’s top-seeded Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong stronger favourites after they saw off Chun Hei Reginald Lee and Tsz Yau Ng, representing Hong Kong, 20-22, 21-14, 21-18.
In the women’s singles, second seeded South Korean An-Se Young beat Pai Yu Po from Taiwan 21-3, 21-7.
She next plays 2015 champion Carolina Marin of Spain, who marked her return to the tournament with victory over Beiwen Zhang of the United States.
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