KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 —World number one men’s singles shuttler Viktor Axelsen is elated to finally win his first Malaysia Open Badminton Championship title after making his debut in the 2012 edition.
The 28-year-old Dane has won the World Championship and Olympics gold, two All England titles and one Malaysia Masters in the past 10 years but the Malaysia Open crown had remained elusive.
After being eliminated in the first round in his first four attempts (2012-2015), Axelsen’s best achievement was reaching the quarter-finals three times (2016, 2018, 2019).
"This is a title I really wanted to win. It is really important to me, and I am very happy to win it today,” he told reporters after outclassing world number two Kento Momota 21-4, 21-7 in just 34 minutes.
Axelsen admitted that playing former legends like Malaysia’s Datuk Lee Chong Wei, and Chen Long and Lin Dan of China in the past had helped him to elevate his game to be among the best in the sport now.
"I still remember I played Chong Wei in this hall, and I lost 8-21, 10-21 in 26 minutes. Definitely that can be grounded but that’s a good experience for me. Playing big matches with the legends has obviously given me a lot of experience, a lot of points,” he said.
"I am a bit surprised with my level today and the match in general. It is great to see and play Momota in another major final. I respect him as a great player, but today I think I played really well. Maybe he was not comfortable,” he said, adding that he has not decided on playing in the Malaysia Masters scheduled for July 5-10.
Asked about his fitness, Axelsen jokingly said that running after his daughter Vega gave him extra cardio worked to keep him in shape.
Meanwhile, Momota said he struggled to adapt to the drift in the arena today while Axelsen played superbly beyond his expectations.
"However, I felt I have gained some plus points from this match. The experience of playing in this kind of fans atmosphere would come in handy in future tournaments, including next week’s Malaysia Masters,” he said. — Bernama