KUALA LUMPUR – After having a very successful season in 2022, world’s number one shuttler Viktor Axelsen (picture) aims to kick off the new season with the same dominating form when the Malaysia Open starts from tomorrow till Sunday.
On paper, the 29-year-old Danish player, who will begin his title defence against compatriot Rasmus Gemke seems unstoppable in his quest for a second Malaysia Open title after having clinched his maiden Malaysia Open with a commendable 21-4, 21-7 win over Kento Momota of Japan in the final last July.
“Same like last year, my full focus will be on my training, preparations, family and wellbeing, then hopefully 2023 will be a year with a good health and good performances.
“I will try my utmost best to maintain my good performances all year, and then we see what happens,” he said when met after an official training at the Axiata Arena here, today.
Axelsen clinched six Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour titles in 2022, including the season finale, World Tour Finals in Bangkok last month, apart from bagging his second World Championship in Tokyo, last August.
Asked about a threat to the title, the reigning Olympics champion said he was not too concerned about other players, but rather focused on his own training and preparations.
“Everyone (is a threat), there are so many good singles players in this category, so much talent and good players, if you’re not focused and you can easily face problems early. The pressure is a privilege but it also means that I am in a position that I have done well.
“I will let others decide who is the favourite, for me, I just focus on my match. I have no favourites, I don’t feel like I have to do anything other than to do my best, and that is what I am going to do tomorrow,” he said.
Axelsen also admitted that, the Axiata Arena was among the toughest venues to play due to the strong drift.
Meanwhile, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) singles coaching director Wong Choong Hann said, though Axelsen is the favourite for the title, other players in the top 10 world ranking list are capable of creating surprises.
“Axelsen is certainly the favourite but we must not overlook the capabilities and prowess of others in the fray, especially local hero Lee Zii Jia, China’s Shi Yu Qi (China). Others who can pull off a surprise are Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Thailand), Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Jonatan Christie (Indonesia),” he said. – Bernama / pic AFP