Viktor Axelsen beats Lee Chong Wei: 21-14, 14-21, 21-14
The Dane continues his rampant form in yet another mega event and bags his maiden Japan Open title with an impressive win over defending champion Lee in three games. The match lasted for more than an hour and Axelsen stole the show with his overall game and dominated the proceedings in the decider
With that deceptive smash, Axelsen is just two points away from winning the championship. Leads 19-9
The Malaysian ace comes from behind to draw level and force the match into a decider in the men's singles final against Axelsen. The kind of composure he showed against the Dane was second to none. A couple of errors at the net by Axelsen allowed Lee to make a comeback.
18-18! Four straight points for Lee to draw level in the second game against Axelsen. It is surely a see-saw battle between the two.
Lee Chong Wei has clearly struggled to match up to the pace of Axelsen in the first hurdle. It just took 21 minutes for the Dane to unsettle six-time winner Lee. The mix of crosscourt shots and straight smashes are proving to be a handful for the Malaysian.
2-0! Axelsen starts confidently against Lee Chong Wei in the early stages of the opening game.
Viktor Axelsen vs Lee Chong Wei
Today's showpiece final will have surprises and more so from the in-form Dane, who for the first time, appears as the firm favourite against Lee. Having maintained a 100 percent record in the competition with back-to-back straight-game wins en route to final, the 2017 India Superseries champion has become the man to beat.
What makes Axelsen a difficult opponent to take on is the range of shots he has in his armoury. The 21-17, 21-17 win over Srikanth showed how well he can mix his shots from the forecourt, while the 21-16, 21-16 score against Son indicated that Axelsen's admirable attacking prowess can turn the game around in no time.
“I knew it would be tough. Son Wan Ho is world No 1 for good reason but I am really happy with my attacking game. There were a few mistakes but I handled the situation well,” 23-year-old Axelsen was quoted by saying the official BWF website.
“I respect Lee Chong Wei a lot. He has won so many tournaments and I have only beaten him once. Tomorrow will be really tough but I am looking forward to it,” he added.
History will favour the experienced Malaysian over the giant-killer Dane in the final of yet another mega event. There is no hiding that with age, it is getting tougher for the 34-year-old ace, but after crumbling to second place finishes at numerous events, Lee isn't going to let Axelsen run away with the gold medal.
It took 53 minutes for the Olympic champion to beat the defending champion He Bingjiao in straight games. After a steady start, He crumbled under pressure and gave away three game-points, while it was Marin magic in the second. She ended her 22-month title-drought at Superseries events after winning the 2015 All England Championship. Since then, she has been four finals but she has failed to take gold.
11-19! Can He actually stun Marin in the second game? Marin is feeling the heat.
Report: The only Indians in the fray, the doubles pair of Sikki Reddy and Pranaav Jerry Chopra went down fighting in their maiden Superseries semi-final. The Indian duo lost 21-14, 15-21, 19-21 to the home favourites Takuro Hoki and Sayaka Hirota.
In the men's singles semi-final, defending champion and six-time Japan Open champion Lee Chong Wei scripted a tremendous fightback to win the opening game against Shi Yuqi after being seven points down to eventually win 21-19. Any doubts on his performance was put to rest as he demolished Shi's game in the second to win 21-8 and storm into the finals one more time.
Lee will be go against World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Viktor Axelsen from Denmark. Axelsen who had beat Kidambi Srikanth in the earlier stages of the tournament faced a tough match against World No 1 Son Wan Ho of South Korea.
Axelsen showed his mettle against Son to seal his place in the final of Japan Open Superseries. This will be the Dane's second straight appearance in the final of a mega event. His sharpness at the net tight seemed to have troubled Son who was equally good, but it was Axelsen's quick feet and range of shots that saw him get the better of the Korean in straight games.
Axelsen seemed to have the required firepower to fuel himself across the finish line by opening up the lead in the requisite moments to set up a clash against the Malaysian ace for his first Japan Open Superseries title.
It was heartbreak for World Champion Nozomi Okuhara as a knee injury forced her to withdraw from the tournament and hand a walkover to Spain's Carolina Marin. The Spaniard will face defending champion He Bingjiao for a shot at her first Japan Open title.
He booked a place in the final by defeating compatriot Chen Yufei in straight games.
Despite winning the first game with ease, He was stretched in the second by a defensive Chen. He made quick returns in the opening game to frustrate Chen, who was looking for backhand shots near the sidelines. It was neck and neck in the second with both shuttlers mixing their shots well after the mid-game break. But, it was He who won it, at last, to set up a clash with Carolina Marin in the final of women's singles.
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