Viktor Axelsen’s pulsating three-game victory over Kento Momota proved he remains the man to beat on the badminton circuit after the Dane won 20-22, 21-18, 21-12 to clinch the Denmark Open title.
Axelsen battled for 93 minutes to seal the win, which should be especially sweet for the lanky Dane, who lifted his fifth title of the season in Odense, the city he grew up in.
“It feels really overwhelming. It’s a combination of being overwhelmed and really tired. It was a tough one today. Kento is a really strong opponent. It was a crazy mental game, quite demanding.
“It goes up and down in a match like this when you play such a great player,” the world number two said after the match.
Momota can be encouraged with his overall performance in Odense, as he looked to be near his best.
The world number one was a picture of patience and a defensive solidity as he snatched the opening game from Axelsen in deuce after managing a run of seven consecutive points.
Leading 17-14 in the second game, even Momota would have thought he had this match in the bag.
But his opponent, also the reigning Olympic champion, proved time and again he would not wilt before the final point and staged a dramatic comeback after Momota’s returns did not yield the high intensity required.
Axelsen, who looked to be running out of steam in the first game, suddenly looked like a fresh player and dominated the third to win rather comfortably.
Other matches saw Akane Yamaguchi claim the women’s singles title after her opponent An Se-young retired in the third game.
Japan also won in the men’s and mixed doubles through Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi and Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino, while Huang Dong Ping-Zheng Yu of China claimed the first title of the day in the women’s doubles.