(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
All set for the finals: The hosts shine for Europe
Date: 10/23/2021 10:21 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
The Danish stars Viktor Axelsen and Kim Astrup/ Anders Skaarup Rasmussen are through to the finals of their home tournament for the first time. 

Kento Momota vs Viktor Axelsen
The biggest showdown is finally here! Interestingly, the Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen’s home tournament saw the resurgence of perhaps his greatest rival, the world number one Kento Momota. Given an upward and a downward trajectory the athletes have respectively gone through in the last two years, a 14-1 record in favour of the Japanese star will be of little consequence tomorrow.

Throughout the Super 1000 tournament, the home favourite has been his usual steady self, while Momota has shown glimpses of self-confidence. As a result, both have won their matches in straight games. While the Dane overcame a feisty Lee Cheuk Yiu 21-9, 21-11 , the Momota conceded one less point and extended his record over the veteran Tommy Sugiarto 21-7, 21-12 in the semifinals. 

Ninth-time lucky? 
Despite being one of the top pairs in men’s doubles, Kim Astrup/ Anders Skaarup Rasmussen have failed to reach even the quarterfinals in their past eight appearances here. With great play and some luck, the home favourites have made it to the finals this time. Up 16-9 in the second after pocketing the opener, the Danes slipped up against the Malaysians Goh Sze Fei/ Nur Izzuddin. However, they did not let go of their lead in the third and won 21-11, 19-21, 21-18. 

Astrup/ Rasmussen face the reigning World Championships silver medalists Takuro Hoki/ Yugo Kobayashi for the title. The Japanese pair overcame a stiff challenge from the Germans Mark Lamsfuss/ Marvin Seidel. Despite winning the first game, the Europeans failed to control the proceedings in the latter two games. They eventually lost 20-22, 21-18, 21-16. 

Gilmour goes down fighting
Following the withdrawal of the top seed Chen Yu Fei, Kirsty Gilmour had the chance to demonstrate her calibre once again. Turning in brilliant performances every round, she reached the semifinals. Up against the Korean prodigy An Se Young, the Scot showed heart in the gruelling duel. She used her attacking prowess against a gifted opponent and stretched An Se Young to three games. She went down fighting 21-13, 12-21, 21-16. 

As expected, the Korean will be facing Akane Yamaguchi in the finals. The reliable Japanese player was in control through the first halves of both games against He Bing Jiao. However, she made up for the later lapses in concentration by remaining self-assured, winning 23-21, 22-20. 

The Olympic champions fall
Yuta Watanabe/ Arisa Higashino avenged their loss in Tokyo to the eventual champions Wang Yil Yu/ Huang Dong Ping 16-21, 21-17, 21-17. They will face the Thai pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai, who beat Praveen Jordan/ Melati Daeva Oktavianti in a close encounter 16-21, 21-17, 22-20. 

Huang made up for her loss with Zheng Yu, demolishing Jongkolphan Kititharakul/ Rawinda Prajongjai 21-10, 21-15 to book a spot in the women’s doubles finals. The Chinese duo will have to contend with the Koreans, Lee Sohee/ Shin Seungchan who in yet another clash with their compatriots Kim Soyeong/ Kong Heeyong  won 21-16, 18-21, 21-16.

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