(Photo: Badmintonphoto)
Axelsen: The Danish Maestro
Date: 8/29/2022 9:43 AM
Published by : Yash Sharma

Viktor Axelsen lifts his second World Championships crown without dropping a game. His first title came back in 2017.

Viktor Axelsen has achieved another milestone. While the pandemic has negatively impacted many people, the break seems to have been a miracle for the Danish superstar. He has been unstoppable for the last two years. The accolades he has gathered over this period are astounding. Axelsen is the current: world number one, Olympic champion, All England champion, year-ending Finals champion and now the world champion.

He is the first Dane to lift two world titles in men’s singles, joining the likes of Lin Dan, Chen Long, and arch-nemesis Kento Momota. He served another masterclass against Kunlavut Vitidsarn 21-5, 21-16. He now leads 5-0 against the 21-year-old. On the other hand, it is a great achievement for the Thai youngster as well: winning a silver on only his second attempt. To his credit, Axelsen was dominant throughout the match. In contrast, Vitidsarn made some unforced errors and could not judge the tempo of the rallies well.

The unbeatable hero

So, the question is, what makes Axelsen so good? Is he unbeatable? How can no one beat him in 40+ matches? There are different perspectives that need to be explored to answer the overarching question.

The men’s singles category has been undergoing slow transformation following the decline of Lin Dan - Lee Chong Wei legendary rivalry, say since 2017. While Lee Chong Wei predicted another great rivalry between Viktor Axelsen - Kento Momota, the two athletes have dominated different halves of the change. Kento Momota was the absolute best player in 2018 and 2019 before his unfortunate accident, winning consecutive World Championships crowns and lifting 11 titles in the latter year. Following that, the earlier vanquished Viktor Axelsen has led the way.

In his bid to beat Momota, Axelsen developed a lot as an all-round player. He worked on his consistency and shot quality in every single shot. As Momota humbly pointed out once, “Viktor has the best defence in the world.” While it may not have been true at the time Kento said it, it is now. Axelsen certainly has both the best defence as well as the best attack at the moment.

Who can trump Axelsen?

While the upcoming youngsters Lakshya Sen, Li Shifeng, Lee Zii Jia, and others are definitely trying to beat Axelsen, the current best has another advantage. He played with the likes of Lin Dan, Lee Chong Wei, Chen Long, and Taufik Hidayat to climb the summit at which he presently finds himself. His is a game deeply rooted in the classics of badminton, the basic game is right there with the best-ever.

As the young guns try to dethrone Viktor Axelsen, they must be respectful of what they are up against. It will definitely take more than fanciful tricks to up the Danish great. What exactly will be required? Perhaps the absolute best version of Kento Momota! It doesn’t hurt to hope, after all.

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