World Tour Finals: Axelsen Marches On

A fourth successive Super 1000-level title awaits Viktor Axelsen. Standing in his way will be the familiar figure of compatriot Anders Antonsen.

No player has stopped Axelsen since Anthony Sinisuka Ginting did that last January. Since then the Dane has enjoyed an unbeaten streak that has now lasted 29 unbeaten matches, helping him pick up one HSBC BWF World Tour Super 300 and three Super 1000 titles.

Apart from Axelsen, three other players/pairs have a chance for a clean sweep of the Asian Leg: Carolina Marin (women’s singles), Wang Chi-Lin/Lee Yang (men’s doubles), and Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai (mixed doubles).

There was an air of inevitability about today’s semifinal between Axelsen and Chou Tien Chen, for not only did Axelsen have a 11-2 record over Chou, he has appeared unbeatable the last three weeks. The Chinese Taipei player is known for his tenacity, and he did his best to hang on, but once Axelsen broke away midway through the first game, it was all but over. There was no crack in the wall that Chou could exploit; his best shots just kept coming back.

“I’m really, really happy to be in my third consecutive final here,” said Axelsen. “I can’t even believe it, to be honest. I’m happy about the way I’ve managed to play all my games here. I’ve played rather short matches, which has been good for my recovery so I’m pretty happy with it.

“I think Chou made it tough for me in the first game, he controlled the drift well but I managed to keep going and in the end after the first game I got a narrow lead, which I managed to close. I knew going into this match it would be a physical game. I wanted to see if I could push things at the front court a little, control the shots and I won a few of those which was pretty crucial.”

It was inconsequential, he said, that he was playing a teammate.

“I’m really excited. I don’t care who I play. I just go into matches wanting to do my best and tomorrow will be no different. It’s going to be an exciting match. The crowd loves an all-Danish final, especially in Denmark. For me it’s about going out and there and following my game plan.”

Antonsen, who beat Wang Tzu Wei in a keener contest in the first semifinal, has quite a task on his hands if he has to upset Axelsen.

Yesterday, asked about his compatriot, Antonsen said: “He’s obviously playing really good and he’s looking so strong now. If I’m to face Viktor I’ll have to dig really deep.”

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