Lin Dan overcomes Viktor Axelsen to win Japan Open

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Lin Dan thanks Viktor Axelsen for his “best effort” in the final. (photo: Reuters)

Tokyo: Lin Dan of China has once again proved his reputation as “Super Dan” after he earned a hard fought three-set battle against 21-year-old Viktor Axelsen in the Japan Open final on Sunday.

Lin Dan got off to a slow start in the first set in which he trailed 3-8 against Viktor Axelsen at one point. Lin then overcame some sloppy errors to eventually win the first set 21-19.Lin Dan thanks Viktor Axelsen for his “best effort” in the final. (photo: Reuters)

The heart breaking first set loss has no demoralizing effect on Viktor Axelsen’s game. The Denmark player was unbelievably pumped up in the second set, after 10-10, Viktor started pulling away to wrap up a 21-16 victory over Lin Dan to force a decider.

The third set showed why Lin Dan could be considered the greatest player ever to pick up a badminton racquet, when he summoned his best badminton to complete an amazing comeback win over the Dane. Axelsen got out to a huge lead with an 11-3 score at the interval. But Lin made a truly remarkable 11-2 run to take a one point lead at 14-13. Both players were engaged in a see-saw battle that saw the two stars trade shots and lead exchanges until 19-19, before Lin reeled off next two points to clinch the Japan Open men’s title in an exhilarating final.

The victory was significant for Lin as it was his first Superseries title in more than a year since winning the Australian Open in June 2014.

“My opponent has played exceptionally well today. However, thanks to the audience, they were awesome today as they cheered me on in a tough battle,” said Lin Dan.

In the all-Japanese women’s singles final, Akane Yamaguchi who won the Japan Open in 2013 failed to reclaim the crown when she went down against compatriot Nozomi Okuhara, losing 18-21, 12-21 in 41 minutes.

In a marathon match, men’s singles top seeds Lee Yong Dae and Yoo Yeon Seong of South Korea held on and stayed in contention in the second set to beat China’s Fu Haifeng and Zhang Nan 21-19, 29-27.

Zhao Yunlei and Zhong Qianxin won the second title for China after they prevailed over Christinna Pedersen Kamilla Rytter Juhl of Denmark in women’s doubles final 21-12, 21-16.

Meanwhile, Danes Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen pulled off an upset when they outlasted the top-seeded Chinese pair of Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei in a thrilling mixed doubles final match, winning 17-21, 21-18, 23-21 in 78 minutes.

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