Axelsen outclasses Momota to clinch maiden Malaysia Open title

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 4: The world number one men’s singles shuttler Viktor Axelsen of Denmark was in a class of his own when he thrashed Japan’s Kento Momota today to clinch his maiden Malaysia Open title.

Playing before a crowd of 10,000 at Axiata Arena here, Axelsen overwhelmed world number two Momota with his attacking play to storm to a 21-4 win in the opening game.

The second game was no different, as the 2020 Tokyo Olympic champion Axelsen displayed another dominating performance with a 21-7 win to lift his third consecutive Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour title. He had won the Indonesia Open and Masters prior to playing here.

His feat also ended a 15-year Asian domination in the men’s singles category of the tournament.

The last non-Asian to win the men’s singles title was another Danish shuttler, Peter Gade, in 2007. After that, former national ace Datuk Lee Chong Wei won the title nine times, including seven consecutive wins from 2008 to 2014, while Chinese stars Chen Long (2015) and Lin Dan (2017, 2019) also tasted victories.

Yesterday, Axelsen defeated world number eight Jonatan Christie of Indonesia 21-15, 20-22, 21-11 after battling for one hour and 11 minutes, while Momota ousted Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand 21-11, 21-12 in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon clinched her second Malaysia Open title by stunning 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Chen Yu Fei of China in the women’s singles final which lasted over an hour.

The 2013 world champion Ratchanok took the opening game 21-15 but the 24-year-old Yu Fei won the second 21-13.

Ratchanok, 27, raced to a 10-1 lead in the decider but the Chinese shuttler narrowed the gap to 10-14.

However, the 2016 champion Ratchanok kept her cool to win 21-16 and clinch the title.

The win is Ratchanok’s third against Yu Fei in 18 meetings and also her first World Tour title since winning the Indonesia Masters in January 2020.

Yu Fei advanced to the final after eliminating four-time champion (2013, 2017, 2018, 2019) Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei 19-21, 21-13, 21-15 in the last four stage, while Ratchanok defeated another Chinese shuttler, Wang Zhi Yi, 21-8, 21-18.

The champions pocketed US$47,250 (about RM208,000) and medals, while the runners-up received US$22,950 and medals. Chong Wei presented the prizes to the men’s singles winners. -TVS


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