Axelsen aim to deny Chong Wei his 12th Malaysian Open title


DENMARK’S world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen is in awe of Lee Chong Wei’s dominance in the Celcom Axiata Malaysian Open.

While the 24-year-old Axelsen has yet to taste success in Malaysia, the 35-year-old Chong Wei will be out to win his 12th title at the home tournament starting today.

The reigning world champion Axelsen says that it will give him nothing but joy to ruin Chong Wei’s party in front of his adoring home fans this week.

Axelsen and Chong Wei are in the same half of the draw and they could cross path as early as in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Both players clashed in the Thomas Cup Finals group stage in Bangkok last month with Chong Wei pulling off a spectacular 21-9, 21-19 victory for his first win in four recent encounters.

Axelsen knows it will be difficult to beat Chong Wei at his own backyard but the Dane is ready to turn the tables on his opponent.

“Chong Wei always plays really well in Malaysia and has won many, many times here,” said Axelsen after the unveiling ceremony of the World Tour Finals trophy at the Royal Selangor in Setapak here yesterday.

“I’ll try my best to overcome him this time if I get the chance to play him. It’s always tough playing against him in any part of the world, especially in Malaysia.”

Axelsen lost both of his last two matches against Chong Wei in the Malaysian Open – the first round of 2013 tournament and also the last eight in 2016.

“The fact that I have not won in Malaysia yet is certainly a motivation for me to do well this week,” said Axelsen, who will play Thailand’s Khosti Phetpradab in today’s first round.

“I’m not going to be too preoccupied on who I’ll be playing in the quarters or semis because the first round is equally important to me.”

Besides Chong Wei, Axelsen also picked Japan’s Kento Momota as the one to beat at the Malaysian Open. The Dane has yet to beat the Japanese star since 2014.

Momota is in the other half of the draw and the duo could only meet in the final.

“I’ve lost to him most of the times. I haven’t really found a way to deal with Momota yet,” said Axelsen.

“I’m working hard on my game and I’m looking forward to meeting him again. Hopefully we’ll play another good match.”

The unseeded Momota will take on Indonesian Anthony Ginting today and if he wins, he will play second seed Son Wan-ho of South Korea in the second round.

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