Olympic Games in Rio is the first time Viktor Axelsen has played on the Olympic stage. Despite his nerves, he has been rewarded with a semi-final, holding his 4th seeding. But unfortunately, today was not the day for his first Olympic final. He lost in two sets to China’s second seed, Chen Long: 14/21, 15/21.
Before the match, it would seem as if the Kings of badminton would have to make room on the top of the podium for the young Dane, but a well-playing Chen Long but an end to that dream. For now Viktor Axelsen will have to compete for the bronze, which still would be an incredible result for the Dane.
Axelsen took an early lead to 3/0, but Chen quickly caught up with him. And despite the fact that the Dane got to 11 first, Chen Long catches up on him again and 12/12 turned into a 12/18. From there Chen Long took the first set 21/14.
It did not matter what Axelsen did on court, Chen Long just seemed to do it better. The errors the Chinese made in the beginning of the match was nowhere to be found, Axelsen had a hard time hitting winners.
He struggled to keep up an at 8/11 it was the Danes last chance to make improvements and get back in the game. He managed to do so, building up the shuttle in his favor, but when the Dane was to make the final smash, it was out side of the court. Which resulted in Axelsen never getting a positive rhythm or streak in his game.
It was the first time in the Olympics, the Dane was up against a top 10-ranked player, and extra hard work was necessary for a victory. That extra level was not in Axelsens reach today, and his Chinese opponent exceeded to the final tomorrow against Lee Chong Wei.
Viktor Axelsen will play former Olympic champion Lin Dan of China for the bronze medal tomorrow.
There is a chance that this will be the last Olympics for Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei, and Axelsen has proved that he could be a serious candidate for the gold in Tokyo 2020.