Axelsen becomes first Dane to win All England in 21 years

Axelsen beat Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan in straight sets. (AP pic)

LONDON: Viktor Axelsen became the first Dane to win the All England title for 21 years when he beat Taiwan’s top seed Chou Tien-chen with ease in Birmingham on Sunday.

In the women’s singles final Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying toppled world No 1 Chen Yufei to secure a hattrick of titles at the event.

Axelsen was in scintillating form to win 21-13, 21-14, making up for his loss in last year’s final.

The 26-year-old world No 7 was dominant throughout to claim the title. The last Dane to win the prestigious event was Peter Gade in 1999.

“This means a lot to me – it is a big, big, big dream come true and it’s up there with all my biggest achievements in my career so far,” he said.

“Right now I’m both happy and really emotional – it’s just crazy.

“I want to thank the crowd so much for all their support this week, both here at the arena and on social media.”

The tournament continued despite pretty much all sporting action being curtailed in Britain and across the world because of coronavirus – a decision criticised by Axelsen’s compatriot Hans-Kristian Vittinghus who described it as “making no sense”.

Axelsen, however, took a different view.

“Hopefully this (coming on a weekend with a lot of sport cancelled because of Covid-19) can help make badminton a more visible sport in this country,” he added.

“I just hope everybody managed to stay safe, and I’m happy that we managed to be able to play this week, and I hope everything will get under control quickly.”

The All England event counts towards Olympics qualification, with the ranking lists on April 28 deciding which players will be involved in the Tokyo tournament.

As of Monday the Badminton World Federation (BWF) is suspending all tournaments until April 12 in light of the coronavirus pandemic – meaning the Swiss Open, India Open, Malaysia Open and Singapore Open will not take place.

Tai, runner-up to Chen last year, signed off on a high though as she won 21-19, 21-15 to take the women’s crown.

“I’m very familiar with playing against Chen as I’ve played against her so many times, and I’ve performed really well against her,” she said.

Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota beat Du Yue and Li Yinhui to win the women’s doubles in Sunday’s first final.

The mixed doubles went to Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti who beat Thai third seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai in an entertaining contest.