The Olympic champion falls short
Date: 1/22/2023 7:31 PM
Published by : Yash Sharma
The Super 750 event India Open 2023 had a mixed finals day. 

There were walkovers by Chinese athletes in women’s doubles and mixed doubles, citing poor health. As a result, their Japanese opponents were awarded the trophies. In contrast, the remaining three matches proved to be absorbing affairs. 

In women’s singles, An Se Young avenged her loss last week to Akane Yamaguchi. Elsewhere, men’s doubles Chinese pair Liang Wei Keng/ Wang Chang overcame their final opponents, the world champions Aaron Chia/ Soh Wooi Yik, to lift the trophy. They have quickly established themselves as one of the best in the category.

In contrast, Viktor Axelsen was denied a fairy tale ending this time as he tasted the first defeat of the year. Playing for a record-tying third India Open crown today, the two-time world champion found himself against familiar opponent Kunlavut Vitidsarn. Yet, it felt different. 

Coming into the match, the Thai youngster had been denied even a game in the previous six encounters. However, he dug deep today, unsettling Axelsen. Showing a calmness characteristic of Kento Momota in his prime, the World Championships silver medallist saved a game point before clinching the all-important first game. It gave him the belief to challenge Axelsen all the way. 

The Dane settled the score at 1-1 by turning on the attack. However, his mental fortitude faltered in the decider. Given that he was the huge favorite against Vitidsarn, Axelsen was expectedly nervous. It cost him dearly as the Thai did not give an inch.

The Olympic champion made 4-5 errors on return-of-serve. Trailing 12-10, he made numerous misjudgements. In contrast, Vitidsarn found unbelievable acute angles on his winners to score six consecutive points, all but sealing his victory. 

In a titanic tussle lasting just over an hour, Kunlavut Vitidsarn overcame the all-achieving world number one Viktor Axelsen. The scoreline read 22-20, 10-21, 21-12. 

Check all finals results here.
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