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Axelsen ensures European representation in world finals with dominant defeat of Chen Long

Saturday 26 August 2017

Viktor Axelsen became the first European player to qualify for the men’s singles final at the TOTAL BWF World Championships in 16 years, with a straight-games victory over reigning champion Chen Long.

Chen, who won back-to-back world titles in Copenhagen and Jakarta before winning Olympic gold last year, was unable to match his Danish opponent as 2014 bronze medallist Axelsen ran out 21-9 21-10 victor on Court One.

While Chen won the first point of the match, Axelsen dominated from the start, never once coming close to relinquishing the lead as he took the opening game with ease.

Chen looked to have regained his form as the second game got underway, but Axelsen soon took advantage once again to ensure European representation in Sunday’s finals.

“I’m feeling so happy, I can’t believe I just beat Chen Long in two games,” he said. 

“I’m out of words at the moment, I’m just really happy.

“I’m so proud right now, but I’m not done yet. I have another match to focus on tomorrow, so right now I’m enjoying this victory, but tonight I’ll start preparing for the next one.”

Current Olympic champions Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir moved one step closer to their second world title as a pair with a 21-16 21-13 triumph over Lee Chun Hei Reginald and Chau Hoi Wah.

The third seeds made light work of their tie with the Hong Kong duo, dominating throughout both games without falling behind in the second.

“We will come to play at our maximum potential tomorrow,” said Natsir.

“After what we have gone through in this match and previous matches, we are here to win the championships.”

Ahmad added: “It was Independence Day in Indonesia yesterday so to win gold on Sunday would make it much more meaningful.”

There was more success for Indonesia to come as Mohammad Ahsan and Rian Agung Saputro - the only non-seeded players to reach the semi-finals - progressed to the men’s doubles gold medal match with a 21-12 21-15 defeat of fourth seeds Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.

While in the women’s singles, seventh seed Nozomi Okuhara came from behind to prevail over India’s Saina Nehwal to reach her first world final.

In defeating Nehwal, Okuhara becomes the first Japanese player to qualify for a world final in 40 years.

Two-time medallist Nehwal had breezed through the first game, but Okuhara found fifth gear to win the next two to progress, recording a 12-21 21-17 21-10 victory.

There was defeat for current women’s doubles Olympic champions Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi, as they fell 21-17 21-15 at the hands of China’s Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan.

Chen has the opportunity to reach another final later today when she faces English pair Chris and Gabby Adcock in the mixed doubles semi-final alongside Zheng Siwei.

Article by Sportsbeat. 

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