China Open: Axelsen Completes the Circle

Top seed Viktor Axelsen won the last major title to elude him as he added the VICTOR China Open 2023 to his collection. The Dane’s 21-16 21-19 defeat of local hope Lu Guang Zu saw him also complete his conquest of HSBC BWF World Tour Super 1000 titles.

Women’s singles world champion An Se Young also justified her top billing with a straight games defeat of second seed Akane Yamaguchi, taking her haul of titles this year to nine from 12 finals, making her the most successful women’s singles winner in a season. Remarkably, the Korean has won all her last six finals.

“It feels absolutely amazing, honestly,” said Axelsen. “In Copenhagen (World Championships) I was obviously disappointed, but to come back with a performance like this in a major tournament here at China Open, which to me is a really important tournament – I missed this tournament among all my titles – so now I have a full circle.

“This makes me even happier in my results, and the championships I have won makes me complete. To be honest, the most important thing is how I bounced back after the World Championships. I have proved to myself that if I try to do my best every single day and if I try to get back after some losses, I can get better.”

Axelsen barely made an error all match

Axelsen barely made a mistake all match, and even though Lu was sharp in the second and built up an 18-12 lead, Axelsen stayed alert for half-chances. He went ahead with a seven-point sequence, and then converted his first match point.

“I was a bit surprised at how well Lu Guang Zu played in the second game, that’s supposed to be the hard side to play on,” said Axelsen.

“But his net game and his attack was super strong; good variations that made it hard for me and actually I felt a lot under pressure. But suddenly I got one point, and one more point, my defence started playing well, and suddenly I was ahead and it was up for grabs and I played with a cool head in the last rallies.”

An Se Young’s golden run continues

An Se Young, who is on track to match Kento Momota’s record of 11 singles titles in a season, said she was “excited” by the possibility.

“This is the first time I’m hearing about this record, I find it interesting,” said the No.1. “My motivation is to win the titles that I have yet to win; my motivation doesn’t come from the possibility of setting records.”

Doubles Highlights

Liang Wei Keng (left) and Wang Chang

World champions Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yu Jung used their greater experience in finals to good effect as they outplayed Thom Gicquel/Delphine Delrue 21-19 21-12 for their first Super 1000 title.

Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan were never threatened by Baek Ha Na/Lee So Hee as the Koreans never recovered from a poor start, and the Chinese had their fifth title of the year.

Liang Wei Keng/Wang Chang wrapped up the event on a great note for the hosts as their opponents Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik were all at sea during a 26-minute rout, 21-12 21-14. This was the first Super 1000 title for the Chinese.

What They Said

“My condition wasn’t good at all this week, especially over the first two days. Jia helped me a lot, she covered up for me. The Koreans pressured us in the second game as we struggled with the drift, but we could keep up our energy levels towards the end.” – Chen Qing Chen

“It’s true that we had never won high level tournaments earlier, so we didn’t dare to expect ourselves to win here following the World Championships. It was unexpected. Now that we did it we are happy but there are other tournaments coming up so we have to continue working hard.” – Seo Seung Jae

“We have mixed feelings. We wanted to win, so we’re disappointed right now. But overall it was a good week. We’re happy we made the final, but next time we’d want more.” – Delphine Delrue

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