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.
REVIEW NEW FORMAT
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