Axelsen reaches Japan Open final, faces Chong Wei

Viktor-Axelsen-Chong-WeiTOKYO: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen defeated world number one Son Wan Ho in the men’s singles semi-finals at the Japan Open on Saturday.

Axelsen, who beat two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China to clinch the world title in Glasgow last month, overpowered South Korea’s Son with a 21-16, 21-16 win.

He now faces Malaysian Lee Chong Wei who has won the Japan Open six times. Chong Wei booked a spot in the final after a 21-19, 21-8 win over China’s Shi Yuqi.

In the women’s singles, Spain’s Carolina Marin, Olympic gold medallist last year, reached the final as Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara dropped out from the semi-finals due to knee trouble.

Marin faces China’s He Bingjiao who beat Chen Yufei 21-14, 25-23.

Okuhara, newly crowned women’s world champion, was aiming to reclaim the trophy on home soil after winning it in 2015.

Home fans at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium expressed disappointment when the organisers announced her withdrawal.

“I did my best (to recover) but this morning, I wasn’t in the condition to play,” Okuhara, 22, told reporters, according to Sankei Sports.

“I was ready for a battle mentally but my body was telling me I couldn’t,” she said in tears.