Sunday, July 14, 2024
HomesportWorld No. 1s Viktor Axelsen, An Se-young win China Open badminton finals

World No. 1s Viktor Axelsen, An Se-young win China Open badminton finals

BEIJING – Badminton powerhouse Viktor Axelsen clinched his first China Open title on Sunday, as An Se-young took the women’s trophy.

World No. 1 Axelsen overcame a second-game surge by home-grown finalist Lu Guangzu to triumph 21-16, 21-19 in 49 minutes.

After sailing through the first game, the 29-year-old Dane found himself 18-12 behind in the second before taking nine of the last 10 points to win the match.

“It feels absolutely amazing, honestly,” he said, at the venue in the eastern Chinese city of Changzhou.

“To be honest, the most important thing is how I bounced back after the World Championships.”

At that tournament in Copenhagen in August, Axelsen slumped to a shock quarter-final defeat by India’s H.S. Prannoy.

“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,” he said.

It was a day for the top-ranked players, as South Korea’s An downed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 21-10, 21-19.

An, who sealed promotion to world No. 1 with victory at the Japan Open in July, also breezed through the opening game but fell behind in the second.

But she gradually pegged back the second-ranked Yamaguchi before notching the final three points to seal victory in 38 minutes.

“It’s true that I’ve played Akane many times, so we can anticipate each other’s shots,” An said.

“So we need to prepare well for the match. As long as my body can take it, I hope I can reach the finals of other tournaments, and get a good result at the Asian Games,” added the 21-year-old.

“Right now, my focus is on how to improve and play better.”

The home fans did have something to shout about, as Chinese pairings took two doubles titles.

Liang Weikeng and Wang Chang took the men’s crown with a quickfire 21-12, 21-14 win over Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia.

Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan won the women’s competition, beating South Korean duo Baek Ha-na and Lee So-hee 21-11, 21-17.

South Korea also won two titles, as Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung triumphed 21-19, 21-12 over French pair Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue in the mixed doubles.

China has hosted several international sporting events in 2023 after ditching a tough zero-Covid policy that prompted cancellations and postponements.

Badminton’s Sudirman Cup became the first such event when it took place in the eastern city of Suzhou in May.

The country has said it expects 12,500 athletes to converge on Hangzhou, south of Suzhou, for the Asian Games from Sept 23 to Oct 8. AFP

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