On Friday, while India’s PV Sindhu accounted for women’s world no.1 Carolina Marin in Dubai’s World Super-Series Finals, Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen did the same in men’s singles. The Dane played a remarkably fast game against Malaysia’s world no.1 Lee Chong Wei and won for the first time in his 10 encounters with the celebrated Malaysian. Lee is the only man to have won the year-end Super-series event on four occasions in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2013 and until yesterday, he had never lost to Axelsen. The Malaysian began strongly but later in the match, Axelsen proved equal to him. On a day that saw semifinalists in all categories being finalized, Lee and Marin’s defeats became the major talking points.
Viktor Axelsen played his last Group B match against Lee Chong Wei after losing to the Malaysian on the last 9 occasions. Lee himself was returning to courts after a 2-month lay-off brought about by a hamstring injury in October but didn’t look in trouble as he dominated the first game against the Dane. Showing great reflexes, Lee took the first game 21-14. But in a sudden twist, Axelsen did a turnaround and forced Lee into errors in the second game. After taking the second game 21-14 from Lee, Axelsen found it difficult in the third. Lee began with a 1-0 lead but Axelsen snatched the lead back from him and made it tough for the Malaysian, until the scores became level at 17-17. When the vintage Lee looked like sailing through for his tenth consecutive victory over the Dane, the complexion of the match changed again. The Dane won a crucial point to lead at 19-18 and it was here that a shot from Lee went wide. Axelsen held two match points and he converted on the second, when Lee’s service struck the net and Axelson won 14-21, 21-14, 21-19. For the place in Sunday’s final, Axelsen will have to beat Korea’s Son Wan Ho, who came through despite losing 26-24, 8-21, 11-21 to Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long Angus. The second men’s semifinal will feature China’s Tian Houwei and Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen. The two played against each other on Friday and despite Jorgensen’s straight games loss to the Chinese, both of them reached the semifinals and will meet again on Saturday for another show of strength.
In women’s doubles, Japan’s world no.1 pair of Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi will replay their Olympic gold medal match against Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl, while in the other semifinal, China’s Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan take on Korea’s Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee. In mixed doubles, after beating China’s Lu Kai/Huang Yaqiong, Great Britain’s husband-wife team of Chris and Gabby Adcock will fancy their chances of repeating their last year’s title winning performance in World Super-series Finals. However, the Adcocks will first need a semifinal win over Indonesia’s Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto, who reached the Last-Four by defeating the Danish pair of Joachim Fischer Nielsen/Christinna Pedersen. In men’s doubles category, Saturday’s first semifinal will feature Denmark’s Mads Conrad-Petersen/Mads Pieler Kolding playing against Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda while in the second, China’s Chai Biao/Hong Wei take on Malaysia’s Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong.
After Sindhu’s victory over Carolina Marin, it was revealed by the Spaniard that she was undergoing treatment for problems in her lower back. But that didn’t make her unfit in any way. Incidentally, the World and Olympic Champion Marin lost all her three Group B matches. As for, Sindhu, she couldn’t have progressed to the semifinal without the win because Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi, had a better game difference despite losing to Sun Yu today. Asked if she knew about the game-difference factor Sindhu said she found these equations complicated and concentrated in eking out the win again Marin.