Viktor Axelsen wins first title of the year in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR – World number one Viktor Axelsen captured the Malaysia Masters crown on Sunday, edging out home favourite Lee Zii Jia 21-6, 20-22, 21-13, to secure his maiden silverware of the year.

The Danish men’s singles ace has been in magnificent form and only dropped one game throughout the tournament for the well-deserved triumph.

The 30-year-old was up against an in-form Lee who had won last week’s Thailand Open, as well as a boisterous home crowd who raised the decibels as soon as the Malaysian emerged for the final.

Axelsen cruised to the opening game as Lee struggled to find his rhythm, but Lee returned fired-up in the second game to level proceedings thanks to his deft net-play and ferocious smashes.

But the reigning Olympic champion returned to ascendancy in the deciding game, trapping Lee into tight corners before netting the winners with his powerful attacks.

Axelsen said he envied the strong support his opponent received throughout their 63-minute contest.

“I couldn’t hear myself think, and I definitely couldn’t hear what my coach was saying. It was a great experience for me to play here,” he said.

Lee, meanwhile, said he is still finding the best version of himself despite reaching back-to-back finals.

“I’m not completely satisfied with my performance, but these past two weeks has been a great experience for me playing against different players,” he said.

Wang Zhi Yi claimed the women’s singles title after the Chinese came from a game down to beat India’s PV Sindhu 16-21, 21-5, 21-16.

Denmark had also bagged the men’s doubles title through Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen, while home pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai gave the crowd a lift by winning the mixed doubles event. –AFP