Every title’s now a bonus for Axelsen as he has won it all

Come on: Dane Viktor Axelsen reacts to the line judge during his match against Japan’s Koki Watanabe. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen said he has nothing else to prove after winning all the major titles in badminton but remains hungry to achieve more success.

World No. 1 Axelsen captured the men’s singles gold in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and won the World Championships twice in 2017 and 2022.

The Dane has also won 27 Open titles including the prestigious All-England twice in 2020 and 2022, and was part of the team that triumphed in the 2016 Thomas Cup Finals.

Axelsen has not reached similar heights this year where he has yet to win an individual title but remained unfazed by his struggles.

“I’m very blessed and fortunate for what I have won so far,” said Axelsen.

“I can look back and I have won everything that I set out to win. I don’t have to prove myself anymore to anyone. Who should I prove myself to?

“But that does not mean that I’m not hungry to win more.

“Everything that I win after this is a bonus and that makes me very dangerous if I’m in a good place,” he added.

Axelsen, who turned 30 in January, has only reached the semi-finals twice this year in the Malaysian Open in January and European Championships last month.

The Dane, though, insisted that he was not feeling the pressure to end his title drought.

“I don’t feel any additional pressure just because I have not won a title this year,” said Axelsen.

“I’m doing my best every single day and I had a lot of physical issues in the last few months which I’m slowly figuring out now.

“I’m getting physically stronger and stronger, and I’m coming back now and I’m excited to play well again.”

Axelsen was in commanding form when he swept aside Japan’s world No. 20 Koki Watanabe 21-14, 21-11 to march into the second round of the Malaysian Masters at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The Dane should have little trouble overcoming Thai qualifier Panitchapon Teeraratsakul next.

Axelsen has a good opportunity to end his wait for a title this year in the venue where he has excelled previously.

He won the title in the 2018 edition and also captured the Malaysian Open twice in 2022 and 2023.

“I always enjoy playing in this arena. Personally, this place has been special for me,” said Axelsen.

“I’m happy with my performance in the first round and I hope to go on and win my first title this year here.”

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