Tokyo: Viktor Axelsen of Denmark who outlasted five-time World champion Lin Dan of China to end Denmark’s 20-year drought in men’s singles at the World Championships last month, survived a three-set thriller against Malaysian Lee Chong Wei in the 2017 Japan Open men’s singles final on Sunday.
As Lee Chong Wei got off to a slow start in the first set, Axelsen took advantage to lead the set 6-0 and 11-6. After the interval, Lee was struggling to defense the ruthless attacks from Axelsen and made several mistakes on the net to allow Axelsen win the first set 21-14.
Lee Chong Wei received several minutes of medical treatment when the score was levelled at 2-2 in the second set. After the 7 minutes medical timeout, both were putting on a see-saw battle, where Lee held an 11-10 lead at the interval, before Axelsen re-took the lead at 17-13. Lee managed to coolly work his way past Axelsen 21-19 in the second set to force a decider.
In the completely one-sided decider, the lanky Dane delivered a stunning reminder of his status as the reigning World Champion with a crushing 21-14 win over the six-time Japan Open winner Lee Chong Wei.
With this victory, Axelsen improved his head-to-head career meeting record against Lee to 2-9. This was Axelsen’s first Japan Open title and Denmark’s first since Peter-Gade Christensen won it in 1999.
After winning the All England, India Open and Malaysia Open earlier this year, the No. 3 seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo needed only 29 minutes to pick up their four Superseries titles of the year at Japan Open by seeing off local favorites Takuto Inoue/Yuki Kaneko of Japan 21-12, 21-15 in the men’s doubles final.