Viktor Axelsen remains the man to dethrone in 2023 as the Danish ace dominated Kodai Naraoka to secure a 21-6, 21-15 victory in 40 minutes to defend his Malaysia Open title.
Axelsen had cruised through his men's singles semi-finals match against Kanta Tsuneyama, while Naraoka embarked on the longest match of the tournament in the semis when he beat Kunlavut Vitidsarn.
Both shuttlers’ physical prowess clearly told, as Axelsen charged at his opponent from the start.
The Japanese had no answers to Axelsen’s forehand smashes, and when he did try to be deceiving at the front court, the Dane read and responded to everything.
The first game ended as soon as it started, and in the second the world champion continued to pummel the Japanese with more winners from his smashes.
The Japanese’s body language slumped as the game wore on, and even though he fared better, could do nothing to stop the Dane who strode to victory.
“He looked stiff legged due to the long matches he’s played. For me, that was a good thing. I just tried to play consistently at a high pace and not give him many chances. If he wanted to win, he had to work really hard.
"But congratulations to Kodai, he’s a fantastic player and we will see more from him,” said Axelsen, who pocketed $87,500 (RM379,312) as champion.
Naraoka, who played marathon three-game matches prior to the final, admitted that took a toll on him.
“I did feel tired coming into this game, but I still did my best. He used his height well, and his smashes were too powerful for me,” said the world number seven.
Akane Yamaguchi claimed the women’s singles title after the Japanese top seed came from a game down to beat South Korea’s An Se Young 12-21, 21-19, 21-11.
Chen Qingchen-Jia Yi Fan continued to dominate in the women’s doubles as China’s top pair beat South Koreans Baek Ha-na-Lee Yu Lim 21-16, 21-10 for the title.
China had earlier clinched the mixed doubles crown as top seeds Zheng Si Wei-Huang Ya Qiong beat Japan’s Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino 21-19, 21-11.
Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto made up for last year’s final loss as the Indonesians denied China a third title by beating Liang Wei Keng-Wang Chang 21-18, 18-21, 21-13.