It was a case of winner take all in today’s final group match between Viktor Axelsen and Lee Chong Wei at the Dubai World Super Series finals. The mathematics was simple, whoever won would make the semi-finals of badminton richest event.
History favoured the Malaysian as Axelsen had never beaten his experienced opponent before but history is there to be challenged and Axelsen picked the most opportune moment of his life to send the Malaysian super star home after the group stages.
Things looked to be going along swimmingly from a Malaysian perspective with Lee Chong Wei taking the opening game rattling off 5 points in a row to win 21-14. But the hurt of 9 consecutive losses and the lure of a semi-final spot and the sniff of a share of the $1 million-dollar prize pot spurred the world number 4 on to his first win ever over the current world number 1.
“Yes a big win for me today over Lee Chong Wei” said Axelsen via his official facebook page. “Time now to prepare for the semi-finals tomorrow.
Men’s singles group B proved to be very tight in the end with Son Wan Ho losing his final match to Ng Ka Long Angus leaving all men with wins but ultimately the Korean and Dane going through in the top two positions.
In group A Jan O Jorgensen came unstuck after two impressive wins opening up the group win for Tian Houwei. The Dane losing out in two games to the Chinese player but both men advancing to the semi-finals.
There was some winter sun consolation for Marc Zwiebler with the German inflicting yet another defeat to the grossly underperforming Hu Yun of Hong Kong. The German ending his tournament third place in group A.
Conrad & Kolding top group A
Mads Conrad Pietersen and Mads Pieler Kolding continued their blistering Dubai form to end the group stages of the Super Series finals in pole position of group A. The Danes were taken to three games today in their final pool game agasint Indonesians Pratama and Suwardi. The Danes will now advance to the semi-finals along with Kamura and Sonada after the Japanese came back from a first day loss to secure second position in the group.
Like Axelsen, Juhl & Pedersen too faced a win or bust match versus Koreans Jung & Shin in group B of the women’s doubles. The Danes coming through in a marathon 70-minute match to claim second spot in the group joining Chinese pair Chen Qingchen & Jia Yifan in the semi-finals.
Joachim Fischer and Christinna Pedersen were guaranteed a semi-final spot after two early group wins. In today’s match versus Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto the prize for victory was top spot in the group with the loser taking the second group spot in the semi-finals.
The Indonesians won the battle today but qualifying in second spot means a pair of semi-finals for Pedersen in both doubles and mixed.
Adcock’s title defence still on track
In the very final match of the group stages husband and wife team Chris & Gabby Adcock (pictured above) reminded everyone never to write them off in a major event after beating Chinese pair Lu & Huang not only on the day in two games but to the second qualifying spot in the semi-finals out of B.
It was the end of the line for Carolina Marin today with the Olympic champion requiring almost a miracle to make the semi-finals. A result going her way in the other match plus an overwhelming victory against Rio runner up PV Sindhu was required. The Spaniard failed to beat the Indian thus ending her Super Series finals involvement.
For all results from the final group stages in Dubai click HERE
MS Semi finals
Jan O Jorgensen (DEN) V Tian Houwei (CHN)
Viktor Axelsen (DEN) V Son Wan Ho (KOR)
WS Semi finals
Sung Ji Hyun (KOR) V Pusarla V Sindhu (IND)
Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) V Sun Yu (CHN)
MD Semi finals
Mads Pieler Kolding/Mads Conrad Petersen (DEN) V Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (JPN)
Chai Biao/Hong Wei (CHN) V Shem Goh/Wee Kiong Tan (MAL)
WD Semi Finals
Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) V Kamilla Rytter Juhl/Christinna Pedersen (DEN)
Chang Ye Na/Lee So Hee (KOR) V Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan (CHN)
MX Semi Finals
Praveen Jordan/Debby Susanto (INA) V Chris Adcock/Gabby Adcock (ENG)
Joachim Fischer/Christinna Pedersen (DEN) V Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (CHN)
Article by Mark Phelan Photos courtesy Badminton Photo