26/05/2024 09:29 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 (Bernama) -- Reigning Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen overcame a partisan home crowd and national number one Lee Zii Jia to clinch his second men's singles crown in the Malaysia Masters badminton championships at the Axiata Arena here today.

World number one Axelsen took 63 minutes to defeat world number 10 Zii Jia 21-6, 20-22, 21-13 in the final and add to the title he won in the 2018 edition.

The win also helped the Dane end a five-month title drought as he bagged his first title of the season, having last tasted victory in the World Tour Finals title in Hangzhou, China, in December last year.

The defeat, meanwhile, extended Zii Jia's miserable record of having never won a single title on home ground.

Zii Jia’s best-ever achievement in the Malaysia Masters was a semi-final appearance in 2020 when he went down to eventual champion Kento Momota of Japan. Zii Jia also reached the quarter-finals in 2019.

Having extended his winning record against Zii Jia to seven in 10 matches, Axelsen admitted that the former All England champion and the partisan home crowd put him under a lot of pressure. 

“I think Zii Jia might be slightly tired after playing a lot of matches over the last two weeks, but I still think he played a great game. Only in the second part of the third game, I feel he may have taken his foot off the pedal a little bit.

“But also credit to myself... I think I played a great game although it's not easy to play with the entire Malaysia against you. I am feeling really good physically, all looking pretty well ahead of the Olympics.

“Right now, I don't want to look too far ahead. I don't even want to think about next week. I just want to enjoy this win and recover and then take it from there,” he said after the prize-giving ceremony. 

Axelsen walked away with the US$31,500 prize money as champion while runner-up Zii Jia pocketed US$15,960. (US$1 = RM4.712).

Meanwhile,  Zii Jia said that playing 10 matches in two weeks in the Thailand Open and Malaysia Masters had taught him a lot and helped him gain more exposure ahead of the Paris 2024 Olympics, scheduled from July 26 to Aug 11. 

“I am still on track to finding my best performance... have to keep tracking my improvements. (I'm) Still trying to find the best version of myself... I have three more tournaments to test (before Paris). 

“Even if I were fit, there's no guarantee I would have won because he (Axelsen) is an experienced shuttler. I gave it my best today and, of course, I'm sad,” said Zii Jia, who suffered cramps in his quarter-final win over another Danish shuttler, Anders Antonsen, on Friday.

Zii Jia advanced to the final by eliminating Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka Long  21-15, 21-17 while Axelsen did it by beating China’s Lu Guang Zu 21-6, 21-13.

For the record, the last Malaysian men’s singles player to win the Malaysia Masters title was Datuk Lee Chong Wei in 2016.

Earlier, Denmark's Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen bagged the men’s doubles title after beating Jin Yong-Na Sung Seung of South Korea 21-18, 21-14 in the final.


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