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Viktor Axelsen, Akane Yamaguchi Sail Into India Open Final

Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen and Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi’s dominance continued as they stayed on course for a second successive title, progressing to the finals of the India Open Super 750 in New Delhi on Saturday. After world no.1 Yamaguchi beat Thailand’s defending champion Supanida Katethong 21-17 21-16 in the women’s singles, Axelsen, also world no. 1, streamrolled fourth seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia 21-6 21-12 in the men’s event. In the summit clash, Yamaguchi will face Korean sensation An Seyoung in a repeat of last week’s Malaysia Open Super 750 final while Axelsen is pitted against the mercurial Kunlavut Vitidsarn of Thailand.

It was a no contest in men’s singles as Axelsen, who had more time to rest after Friday’s interrupted quarterfinals, smashed through the defence of a struggling Christie during the lop-sided 38 minute clash.

Christie tried to bring down the shuttle at a steeper angle but ended up spraying into net repeatedly. He was also guilty of allowing his rival to use his trademark jump smashes. Axelsen also used his height to reach every shuttle thrown at him. The result was that the opening game soon ended at 21-6.

Axelsen was quick to open a 4-0 lead in the second game but two errors – one going long and a forehand finding the net – opened up the doors for Christie as he clawed back at 6-6.

The Indonesian, however, couldn’t keep pace as strayed the shuttle twice into the net as Axelsen had a four-point cushion at the break.

Christie tried to extend the rallies and played some delectable cross court net shots but Axelsen managed to wriggle out with the help of his venomous smashes.

Another powerful smash gave him eight match points and he sealed it when the Indonesian fluffed the line.

“I didn’t have to spend too much energy yesterday, so I was fresh today. I moved well, shots were good. I have played Vitidsarn in three different locations, so I am looking forward to a good final tomorrow,” Axelsen said.

“I know Jonatan Christie is a strong physical player, so my game plan was not to go there and run, I wanted to go and play aggressive and up the pace and it really helped.” Earlier in the women’s singles semifinals, Yamaguchi rode on her superior strokeplay to outshine Supanida 21-17 21-16 to make a second successive final.

Egged on by the crowd, Yamaguchi never really looked in trouble, despite Supanida showing her artistry during the 39-minute match.

The left-handed Supanida tried to keep pace with Yamaguchi, recovering from a 8-14 deficit to 17-18 but the Japanese was always a step ahead as she closed out the opening game comfortably.

In the second game too the two engaged in some tight rallies with Supanida giving ample display of her repertoire of strokes but she couldn’t sustain the pressure on the Japanese, who broke off from 15-16 to seal the issue. In mixed doubles, fourth seed Chinese pairing of Wang Yi Lyu and Huang Dong Ping of China beat Korea’s Kim Won Ho and Jeong Na Eun 21-15 12-21 21-19 to set up a clash with third seeds Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.

The Japanese combination had stunned world no. 1 pair of Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong 21-18 18-21 21-14 in 59 minutes.

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