Axelsen aims higher after claiming second badminton world title
TOKYO (AFP) - Danish badminton ace Viktor Axelsen said he could still "become a better player" after winning his second world title on Sunday (Aug 28), but brushed off comparisons with Chinese great Lin Dan.
Reigning Olympic champion Axelsen crushed Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn 21-5, 21-16 in Tokyo to add another world title to the one he claimed in 2017, cementing his place at the top of the sport.
The 28-year-old did not lose a single game at this week's world championships and he believes he has the potential to improve further with "a long road ahead" of him.
"I want to become as good as I possibly can," said the world No. 1, who has lost only one singles match this year.
"I try to take every day as it comes and try to get better and better every day. I still feel like I can become a better player and that's my main goal."
Axelsen will try to emulate Lin in winning back-to-back Olympic titles when the Paris Games get underway in 2024.
Lin won two Olympic golds and five world titles during his storied career but Axelsen refused to be compared to a player he believes is badminton's greatest of all time.
"For me, Lin Dan is the best player who has ever been - he's the GOAT," said Axelsen.
"I just try to focus on myself and try to do as good as I possibly can, and I'm really proud about where I am right now."
The 21-year-old Vitidsarn, who was appearing in his first world championships final, said Axelsen was "not the same as other players".
"He's very strong and he's very fast," said Vitidsarn, a three-time junior world champion.
"Other players need two or three steps and Viktor needs only one or two."
In women's singles, Japan's Akane Yamaguchi retained her title in front of her home crowd with a 21-12, 10-21, 21-14 win over China's Chen Yufei.
Top seed Yamaguchi had not dropped a single game on her way to the final but she had to dig deep to beat Olympic champion Chen after the momentum shifted in the second game.
"With the fans being here in the arena, the support they gave me really gave me strength," said the 25-year-old Yamaguchi.
"Maybe that was the reason I was able to stay very positive throughout the tournament."
Chen was bidding to become the first player from badminton powerhouse China to win a women's singles world title since 2011.
China has won a total of 15 women's singles world titles - five times more than any other country - but No. 4 seed Chen was the nation's first women's world finalist since 2014.
The 24-year-old said she had "tried not to pay attention" to the pressure on her to end the drought but conceded it "did have some impact".
"I couldn't deal with it mentally and that's something I need to work on," she said.
In men's doubles, Indonesian pair Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan's dominant run as world champions came to an end with a 21-19, 21-14 loss to Malaysia's Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik.
Ahsan and Setiawan were bidding for their fourth straight title but Chia and Soh's win gave Malaysia its first-ever badminton world champions.
In women's doubles, top-seeded Chinese pair Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan beat South Korea's Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong 22-20, 21-14.
In mixed doubles, China's Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong beat Japan's Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino 21-13, 21-16.