Not many players can claim to have beaten two contemporary legends – Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei – in back-to-back finals.
Viktor Axelsen can. The Dane is clearly the man of the moment; with his Daihatsu Yonex Japan Open triumph over Malaysia’s Lee coming in his first tournament after his TOTAL BWF World Championships win over China’s Lin, things are going swimmingly well for the lanky Axelsen.
Until he won the World Championships in August, Axelsen (featured image) had an up-and-down season. He won his second Superseries – the Yonex-Sunrise India Open – after making the quarter-finals at the Yonex All England, but then his form wavered with early exits in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. But the Dane completed a stunning turnaround beating Chen Long and Lin Dan on the last two days of the World Championships; a month’s break later, the Dane scythed through the draw at the Japan Open, dropping only one game through the week, and getting past Lee in the final.
The victory saw him jump 11 places to No.5 in the Destination Dubai Rankings, 6670 points behind leader Son Wan Ho of Korea.
Son was a picture of consistency, making the semi-finals in both Korea and Japan, earning enough points to displace India’s Kidambi Srikanth at the top.
Son was one of the few in Men’s Singles to have stayed close to the top all season; the rest of the category saw fluctuations in the rankings. Four events remain on the 12-leg MetLife BWF World Superseries tour for the top eight players and pairs to secure their spots to the Dubai World Superseries Finals. Given that few players have managed to keep their form through the season, a few surprises are likely in the last lap of qualifying.
Among the big gainers were Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting and Jonatan Christie, who reached the final in Korea. The two surprise finalists made significant gains on the Destination Dubai Rankings – Ginting, who won the title, leapt up by 15 spots and Christie by 11.
Ginting’s victorious run to the Korea Open title included defeats of the likes of Hong Kong’s Ng Ka Long and Korea’s Son Wan Ho; with Christie too making the final, it was reaffirmation that the young Indonesian crop in Men’s Singles has arrived. Ginting and Christie are currently No.10 and No.11 respectively.
Another young player to perform impressively was Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu Wei, who beat OUE Singapore Open champion Sai Praneeth (India) and Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus to make the semi-finals in Seoul, which helped him progress up six spots in the Destination Dubai Rankings. The promising Chinese Taipei player is currently at No.9.
In second spot is India’s Kidambi Srikanth, while Japan Open quarter-finalist Chou Tien Chen (Chinese Taipei) is No.3.
Lee Chong Wei shrugged off his disappointing first round exit at the World Championships to storm to the Japan Open final; the Malaysian gained eight spots and stands at No.6.
China’s Shi Yuqi (semi-finalist in Japan), is just ahead of Axelsen at No.4, while occupying spots 7 and 8 are Ng Ka Long and Lin Dan.