(Photo: Badminton Photo)
Vittinghus: It feels pretty awesome but I need to change my flight!
Date: 1/23/2021 3:02 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
We are all set for a big finals day at the TOYOTA Thailand Open after an action-packed semifinals day. Here is a rundown of who came out on top.

Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, at 35, has had one of the best badminton weeks in his long career. The experienced Dane had already defeated two players in the world top 20 in gruelling matches which went the distance. Today, he faced the world number three Denmark Open champion, Anders Antonsen. 

Surprisingly, this was the first time the two Danes have played on the competitive stage. In men’s singles, it is often emphasised that matches can be like games of chess, where strategy and mental strength is key. The first game was certainly like this, frequent smiles and comments exchanged after outfoxing their opponent. 

Antonsen was able to keep a small lead for most of the way, until 19-19. Remembering what happened in his quarterfinal against Lee Cheuk Yiu yesterday, 19-19 is a good scoreline for Vittinghus. He once again used his know-how and kept his composure at the most crucial time to win 21-19. 

Perhaps picking up that this knocked Antonsen back a little bit, Vittinghus came flying out of the blocks in the second game with eight consecutive points. This was too much damage to come back from. Another surge from 10-4 to 16-4 all but secured his win. Completing a 21-8 second game, he released his bottled up emotions when booking his spot in the big final. 

-I am very emotional. Obviously, it is not the greatest performance Anders has ever put in. He broke down mentally after giving away the first game, but I could not be any prouder of my own performance. 

It is an inspirational career-high performance for a fan favourite player who never gives up. Vittinghus was previously runner-up at the 2014 Dubai World Superseries Finals, champion of the Australian Open in 2016 and won bronze at the 2017 European Championships. Four years on, he is at the top of the world again. Explaining why he may have been able to deliver these performances, he says. 

-I play Viktor, Anders and Rasmus in training all the time and I know how good these guys are, and they are a big reason why I am still here at this level. To beat someone like Anders at the age of 35, not having been in this position for four years, I think there is a lot to be proud of, Vittinghus stated with clearly a huge smile behind the mask. 

-Right now, it feels pretty awesome, but I have a flight back home tonight so I just hope I can change it. There is a nice little prize cheque now so maybe I can just buy a new ticket if not, Vittinghus joked. 

Marin and Axelsen on for the double!
The European champions who were the best of the rest last week in the singles, Carolina Marin and Viktor Axelsen, once again find themselves one match away from the title. 

Carolina Marin faced Korea’s An Se Young, as she did last week, and it was a very similar well-contested two-game victory, 21-19, 21-15. It is a repeat of the final last week for the Spaniard against Tai Tzu Ying, who after being down against Thailand’s Intanon, mounted strong comebacks in game two and three to reach the final again. 

Viktor Axelsen, who has only dropped one game across both weeks in Bangkok continued his business-like efficiency against Chou Tien Chen, winning in two-games, 21-19, 21-15. After a bright start, Chou fought hard and got back into the game. Fending off his attack, the All England and Thailand Open champion has a strong chance to get three titles back-to-back. 

This completed an all-Danish men’s singles final between Axelsen and Vittinghus tomorrow. The two have played five times, with Axelsen edging the head to head 3-2. Last time they played was at the 2019 Malaysia Masters where it was a close 21-18, 21-19 win for Axelsen. 

For the full results and fixtures, click here

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