KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — World number one Viktor Axelsen is on a fine run to end 15 years of Asian domination in the Malaysia Open men’s singles category, after having checked into the semi-finals today.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, bounced back from a set down to beat world number six Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 18-21, 21-17, 21-12 in the quarter-finals at Axiata Arena, tonight.
Riding high in top form after having won two consecutive tournaments in a row — Indonesia Open and Masters — before arriving in Malaysia, Axelsen, 28, said he feels like a “spring chicken” in terms of physical fitness to hunt for more glory.
Commenting on tonight’s match, the 2017 world champion from Denmark said Ginting had gave him an intense battle before losing the game.
“I don’t think the score really makes the justice for the game, it was really an intense and close game. Obviously, everybody can see the game he was playing, it is more exciting than my game.
“However, I am happy with how I managed to play and to come out on top. I have really high expectations for myself, but I am also very realistic about everything and to be an Olympic champion and world number one, you must know how to handle pressure,” he told reporters.
The Danish is set to face another Indonesian hurdle in the semi-finals tomorrow, as he will be playing Jonatan Christie, who sent HS Prannoy of India packing in 21-18, 21-16.
The last non-Asian to win the men’s singles title was another Danish shuttler Peter Gade in 2007, before former national ace Datuk Lee Chong Wei won the title for nine times, including seven consecutive wins from 2008 to 2014, while Chinese stars Chen Long (2015) and Lin Dan (2017, 2019) also tasted victories.
The tournament was called off in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 pandemic.
The other men’s singles semi-final tomorrow will witness Kento Momota of Japan taking on Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand.
Momota, who was leading 13-6 against Shesar Hiren Rhustavito, received a walkover after the Indonesian had a muscle pull on his right leg, while Kunlavut beat Lu Guang Zu of China 15-21, 21-10, 21-17.
Meanwhile, the women’s singles semi-finals will witness a repeat of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics finals, as three consecutive Malaysia Open champion (2017-2019), Tai Tzu Ying sets up a mouth-watering clash with Olympics champion Chen Yu Fei.
The world number two and Olympic silver medallist Tzu Ying, ousted PV Sindhu 13-21, 21-15, 21-13 in the last eight today, while Yu Fei eliminated Japanese Nozomi Okuhara 14-21, 21-18, 21-18 after battling for more than an hour.
In the other semi-final, 2016 champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand will be taking on another Chinese shuttler Wang Zhi Yi.
The Thai shuttler progressed after beating Han Yue of China in straight sets, 22-20, 21-12, while Zhi Yi came from a set down to edge Danish Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt 9-21, 21-10, 21-17. — Bernama