Viktor Axelsen was the highlight of Denmark’s solid performance against Group A rivals Singapore, riding the disappointment of five missed game points to help his team to a strong start at the TotalEnergies BWF Sudirman Cup Finals 2023.
With Loh Kean Yew having beaten the Dane twice in their last three encounters, and with Axelsen himself having been below his best at his last two international assignments, Singapore would have sensed an opening. Loh fought off five game points to take the lead, and the pressure fell squarely on Axelsen.
Yet the Dane was unflappable from then on, giving his opponent no further leeway. Loh had a window at 11-8 in the third, but once again Axelsen stepped up with an eight-point streak that effectively took the match away from his challenger.
That made it 2-0 for the Danes, for in the opening match Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra BØje had edged Terry Hee/Jessica Tan 21-19 21-18.
“Loh is a great player and I knew it would be difficult playing against him. The shuttle was fast and it was hard to control. His attack was always threatening so I’m glad I could pull this one off.”
Mia Blichfeldt consolidated for Denmark before Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen made it 4-0. Singapore pulled one back through Jin Yu Jia/Crystal Wong in the women’s doubles.
China in Comfort Zone
China barely broke a sweat against Egypt in the other Group A tie, winning four of their matches in under 25 minutes.
The one match that set off a brief buzz in the crowd was men’s singles, when Adham Hatem Elgamal led Shi Yu Qi 8-6 in the first game before the world No.10 shut the door on him.
“I said yesterday that I’m coming here not just to play, and end up losing, but also to have a great experience,” said Elgamal. “This qualification period, every second on court means a lot to me. I think I’ve improved since I last played top players. I hope it’s a good start for me.
“I will watch the match recording a hundred times to learn the mistakes I made. I’m ready for Denmark, and I hope Viktor will play.”
Clean Sweep for Japan
Japan made an emphatic statement in their opening tie against England, dropping only one game in five matches.
Chloe Birch and Lauren Smith took a game off Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara before the two-time world champions wrapped it up for Japan, 21-17 13-21 21-11.