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‘Tired’ Axelsen celebrates first title since September

KUMAMOTO, JAPAN (AFP) – Badminton world number one Viktor Axelsen won his first title since September on Sunday in Japan but said he was “not feeling great” heading into the season’s final stretch.

The dominant Dane, who is set to celebrate two unbroken years atop the world rankings on December 1, beat China’s Shi Yuqi 22-20, 21-17 to capture the inaugural Kumamoto Masters title.

Axelsen said he was determined to celebrate his first success on the tour since the China Open and was putting the upcoming China Masters to the back of his mind for the moment.

“Going into the China Masters, I’m not feeling great, I’m very tired, I don’t want to think about it,” he told the Badminton World Federation.

“I have a rule that when you play a final and you’re done, you have to enjoy it so I’m not thinking about next week at all.”

Viktor Axelsen. PHOTO: XINHUA

Axelsen said he would “enjoy an extra piece” of sushi after beating number four seed Shi.

The Dane was also appearing in his first final since the China Open and he said he was happy with his performance in a match “played at a really high level”.

“Shi is a very strong opponent and I think if he had managed to win the first game, it could have gone either way today,” he said.

“I was really happy with how composed I stayed, especially at the end of both games.”

Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung beat China’s Chen Yufei 21-12, 21-12 in the women’s final.

The win gave the number six seed her second title on the world tour, following her triumph at the Spain Masters in April.

Number three seed Chen, the Tokyo Olympics champion, had ended South Korean top seed An Se-young’s 31-match unbeaten streak in the semi-finals.

But Tunjung said she “just tried my best to win every single point”.

“The key to the win today was my patience,” said the 24-year-old, ranked number seven in the world.

“Chen Yufei also made a few mistakes and that helped me believe in myself more and believe that I could counter anything she threw at me.”

The three doubles finals were all contested by Chinese players.

Top mixed doubles seeds Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong beat number three pair Feng Yanzhe and Huang Dongping 25-23, 21-9.

In women’s doubles, number 3 seeds Zhang Shuxian and Zheng Yu beat Liu Shengshu and Tan Ning 12-21, 21-12, 21-17.

And in men’s doubles, He Jiting and Ren Xiangyu got the better of Liu Yuchen and Ou Xuanyi 21-14, 15-21, 21-15.

 

 

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