First up for the Dane in Dubai is India's Kidambi Srikanth of India, the world No 4 who has won three of the pair's previous six meetings
Viktor Axelsen expects a 'tough time' defending Dubai World Superseries Finals badminton title
Viktor Axelsen’s is hoping to maintain his previous good record in the UAE when the 2017 badminton Dubai World Superseries Finals gets under way, but concedes the level of competition means retaining his title will be no easy task.
The Danish world champion took silver here in 2015 before going one step farther last year, beating China's Tian Houwei 21-14, 6-21, 21-17 in the men's final.
“I really enjoyed playing here and [have] been playing quite well,” he said ahead of his title defence that gets under way at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Wednesday.
“I hope I can do the same this year. Of course there are no easy matches in a tournament like this. I’m sure we all are in for a tough time with the world’s elite eight competing for the title.”
Axelsen, 23, arrives in Dubai on the back of a successful year. He won both the Indian and Japan Open to become world No 1.
The tall shuttler underlined his status by winning the World Championship from Li Dan of China in straight games in Glasgow in August. He then finished runner-up at the China Open behind the host nation’s Chen Long last month.
- Dubai World Superseries Finals: Pusarla Sindhu hopes to round off successful season 'on a high'
- Pictures: Viktor Axelsen and Tai Tzu-ying best at 2016 Dubai World Superseries Finals
- Report: Viktor Axelsen flashes future world champion possibilities with Dubai title
“It has been a good year so far,” said Axelsen who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and gold at the European Championships in France.
“I think it’s important with so many tournaments to take one tournament at a time, and one match at a time. This year and next year I’ll do the same, because otherwise you lose track of what’s important.
“Next year the most important is the All England for me. I still feel there’s room for improvement. I think in order to keep improving you always have to think of things in a different perspective, to see what I can do better.
“Physically and mentally there’s stuff that I have to work on. However, at the moment my focus is only on the first match in the Dubai World Superseries Finals.”
First up for the Dane in Dubai is India's Kidambi Srikanth of India, the world No 4 who has won three of the pair's previous six meetings including their last match at the Denmark Open earlier this year.
“As I said earlier, every game in this competition is going to be very tough, not only for me, but for everyone,” Axelsen said.
“The eight players each in both the men and women’s competitions are not here without a reason. This if the finals of the Superseries and it will be the best on the day.”
The action on the first three days begins at 9am and resumes at 1pm after a one-hour break.
The matches consist of men and women’s singles, men and women’s doubles and the mixed doubles with total prize money to US$1 million (Dh3.67m).