(Credit: Badmintonphoto)
Viktor Axelsen one step away from back-to-back titles
Date: 1/14/2023 2:37 PM
Published by : Alan Raftery
In Kuala Lumpur today, the semifinals of the Malaysia Open 2023 threw up some tight matches. However, Viktor Axelsen’s mission to retain his title is going perfectly to plan so far. 

The lost opening game against compatriot Rasmus Gemke seems so long ago now for Axelsen, who since then has cruised through the rounds. Today, Japan’s Kanta Tsuneyama was left stunned at the first break, seeing the scoreboard at 0-11 to his opponent. 

A net-chord winner seemed to kickstart a fight-back, but Axelsen’s constant pressure was too much. Despite a late lapse in focus, losing five match points in a row, the Dane secured the final with a 21-7, 21-15 win. 

Axelsen now faces Kodai Naraoka in the final, who has earned himself a first Super 1000 final after a grueling 113-minute match with Kunlavut Vitidsarn ending 21-17, 19-21, 21-17. 

The two met in the HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2022 semifinal just before the Christmas break and it went the distance!

We will have another Yamaguchi vs An thriller
In the women’s singles, Akane Yamaguchi defeated 4-time Malaysia Open champion Tai Tzu Ying 21-18, 21-16, reaching another major final and increasing her head-to-head lead with Tai to 12-10.

Waiting for her is Korea’s An Se Young who defeated Chen Yu Fei on Malaysian soil once again, winning 21-12, 19-21, 21-9 and setting up a mouth-watering final. Yamaguchi has had the better of recent encounters, winning the last three in the second half of 2022. 

Repeat of World Championships 2022 final
It’s another final for dominant duo Zheng Si Wei/ Huang Ya Qiong who defeated Dejan Ferdinansyah/ Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in two straight games, 21-16, 21-18.

In the other semifinal, despite a slow start, Yuta Watanabe/ Arisa Higashino defeated Dechapol Puavaranukroh/ Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-18, 21-15 to set up a World Championships final rematch. The Japanese did get revenge at the Japan Open last year, but can they do it again?

Zheng Si Wei is hunting his fifth straight Malaysia Open title, the fourth with Huang!

Reigning champions out of Women’s Doubles
It was an unfortunate tearful end for current title holders Apriyani Rahayu/ Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti who were forced to withdraw after the first game due to an injury to Ramadhanti. Chen Qing Chen/ Jia Yi Fan make it to yet another final. 

For their opponents on the other hand, it will be their first Super 1000 final. Unseeded Baek Ha Na/ Lee Yu Lim defeated Zhang Shu Xian/ Zheng Yu 21-17, 23-21. 

Liang/ Wang making an impact
Liang Wei Keng/ Wang Chang powered on to their first Super 1000 final after a 21-16, 11-21, 21-15 win over Satwiksairaj Rankreddy/ Chirag Shetty. The young pair are seeking to make a statement by adding to their Japan Open win last year. 

Their opponents will be having a second go at the final. Fajar Alfian/ Muhammad Rian Ardianto overcame the Koreans Seo Seung Jae/ Kang Min Hyuk, winning 21-18, 21-17. 

The two pairs met in the Indonesia Masters final where the home pair took the win. The Chinese duo got the win when they faced off in the Japan Open quarterfinal. Who will take this one?

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