Axelsen all smiles for the media
Axelsen – King of the World
Date: 8/28/2017 10:40 AM
Published by : Mark Phelan
Viktor Axelsen wrote his name into Danish and European badminton folklore yesterday as he lifted the coveted world title at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow. Axelsen became king of the world after his two set win over all time great Lin Dan to be the first European men’s singles winner since 1997. 

Axelsen and his game had steadily grown in stature as the tournament wore on. His semi final victory over double world and reigning Olympic champion Chen Long was near perfection and was a real indication that the Dane was about to hit his peak on the biggest stage of all. 

Both Axelsen and Lin Dan were held in limbo for a long time back stage as the drama of the women’s doubles and women’s singles played out. China eventually grabbed the doubles title thanks to Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan while Nozomi Okuhara took the women’s singles title in what has been hailed as the greatest women’s singles match of all time that lasted 10 minute shy of two hours. 

After a 1pm finals start Axelsen and Lin Dan finally made their grand entrance close to 5.30pm. The noise in the sold our arena was mind blowing as the greatest of all time and the pretender to the throne strolled onto court. 

The first set was close with never more than just a few points between both players. The momentum ebbed and flowed but it was Lin Dan who got himself to game point first at 20-19. The great Chinese was on a mission to create his own history and win the title for a record sixth time but Axelsen was in no mood for sentiment. From nowhere Axelsen took three unanswered points to take the opening game. It was clear that Lin Dan was feeling the pressure.

“I never lost my focus in that game. I kept belief and stayed in the moment taking each point at a time. Looking back I think maybe this was a key point in the mental aspect of the match.” 

In the second set, after an initial early game flourish, Lin Dan appeared to struggle or moreover Axelsen started to assert his dominance. The Dane raced to the interval with a 6 point lead but all the time remaining both composed and uber relaxed. 

Axelsen’s demeanour on court was that of a king on coronation day. The moment was coming, he knew it. At 19-13 it now became just a matter of time before Europe had its long awaited champion. Axelsen was playing way to well against Lin Dan who had ran out of ideas to let it slip at that point. A brief run of three points from the great Chinese did more to inject a few more decibels into the chants of the huge Chinese contingent in the crowd than to phase Axelsen. 

19-16 ahead Axelsen just seized the moment and took the two points need to claim the crown that so many Europeans had tried to do and failed this millennium. 

Axelsen looked in disbelief as he turned to face the large Danish bank of supporters which continued his family and friends. An embrace with Kenneth Jonassen followed before the Dane fell to the floor with the realisation at what he had just achieved. 

A new king has been crowned. A new hero of European men’s singles has announced his arrival and a super star has taken his place on top of the world as the greatest of all time, Lin Dan hands over the baton. 

“This is something I have dreamed about since I was a little boy.” said Axelsen immediately after his victory. “I have grown up watching Lin Dan and to beat him in the final makes it all the more almost unbelievable. I have to thank all my team and my family. There are many sacrifices made to achieve this title and all my team have helped me achieve it. The supporters also who cheered me on were so important. All week the Danish fans came and gave me the edge. I have said it many times Denmark is a small country but I am so proud to win this for me, my country, family and supporters.”

Axelsen now adds his name to the other great Danish men’s singles champions Flemming Delfs (1977) and Peter Rasmussen (1997), however one suspects that Axelsen will go on to win many more titles after already achieving so much in his relatively young career. 

Congratulations are also extended to Europe’s other medallists on finals day as the Adcock’s and Juhl & Pedersen took to the podium to collect their mixed and women’s doubles bronze medals respectively. 

For all results from finals day at the 2017 world championships click HERE

For a photo gallery from 2017 world finals click HERE

Article and images by Mark Phelan for Badminton Europe

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