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Axelsen clinches Malaysian Masters title

World No. 1 badminton player Viktor Axelsen of Denmark defeated Japan's Kenta Nishimoto 21-13, 21-23, 21-18 to win the Malaysia Masters final yesterday.

Top-seeded Axelsen was pushed to the limits in a see-saw battle in Kuala Lumpur, eventually seizing his first title of the year after 72 minutes.

The 24-year-old Dane faced a gutsy Nishimoto, who had scalped higher-ranked opponents in his gallant run, including world 
No. 2 Lee Chong Wei in the first round.

Axelsen took the lead with a comfortable 21-13 first-game win with his killer overhead cross-court smashes, but Nishimoto rallied back to level the tie 23-21.

The Japanese kept a stellar defence against the attack-minded Axelsen in the decider, but the lanky Dane's deadly net play proved the difference for a 21-18 victory.

Axelsen, who won the world title last year, is hoping that he will be able to repeat that form this year.

"The conditions here were really tricky, in the past, I have had a few upsets in windy conditions. It's a big win for me," said Axelsen, who ripped off his shirt and threw it into the crowd in celebration.

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The Dane reiterated calls for Badminton World Federation (BWF) to review a controversial new tournament ruling that will require players to compete in more matches," he said.

"I would like to play 10 years more, so if BWF wants to give us a fine for taking care of our bodies, then that's its decision. But I don't see it as the right way to do it."

Players must now take part in 12 tournaments a year, an additional two from the previous structure.

In the women's singles, Thailand's fifth seed Ratchanok Intanon edged out Taiwanese top seed Tai Tzu Ying 21-16, 14-21, 24-22.

In Saturday's semis, Tai had beaten Carolina Marin, while Ratchanok saw off Akane Yamaguchi. - AFP

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