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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Viktor Axelsen one match away from retaining Dubai World Superseries Finals title after avenging defeat to Shi Yuqi

Akane Yamaguchi won six points in succession as she rallied from 14-18 behind to edge out Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in three games to book place in the women’s final

Denmark's Viktor Axelsen returns a shot to China's Shi Yuqi during the semi-final of the Dubai Badminton World Superseries Finals in Dubai. Mahmoud Khaled / AFP
Denmark's Viktor Axelsen returns a shot to China's Shi Yuqi during the semi-final of the Dubai Badminton World Superseries Finals in Dubai. Mahmoud Khaled / AFP

Viktor Axelsen is one game away from regaining his Dubai World Supeseries Finals men’s title after smashing Shi Yuqi in straight games at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Saturday.

The Danish World No 1 was ruthless as he avenged his defeat to the Chinese in the group stage with a 21-12, 21-8 demolition in just 41 minutes to reach his third consecutive final in Dubai.

Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei, a three-time Olympic silver, got the better of Son Wan-ho of Korea 21-17, 21-11 in the second men's semi-final later on to set up a showdown against Axelsen.

In contrast to the one-sided opening men’s semi-finals, the preceding women’s semi-final was a thriller.

Akane Yamaguchi won six points in succession as she rallied from 14-18 behind to edge out Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand in three games to book her place in the women’s final.

It was an absorbing contest between the Japanese World No 2 and the Thai World No 6 that had the crowd on the edge of their seats throughout the 1 hour, 12 minute match.

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Read more

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Opening-day victories for Axelsen and Sindhu

Axelsen expects a 'tough time' defending title

Sindhu hopes to round off season on a high

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Intanon led 16-11 before finishing it off with a deep forehand winner to take the opening game 21-17 in 24 minutes.

However, the former Thai world champion went down meekly in a contrasting second game in which she committed too many unforced errors as Yamaguchi levelled the tie 21-12.

The third game ebbed and flowed with Intanon leading 11-10 at the break. Yamaguchi struggled after the restart, trailing 18-14, before staging a stunning comeback to win six successive points to lead.

Intanon saved a match-point to make it 20-19 before Yamaguchi finally found the winning shot to end 28 engrossing minutes of action.

Next up for Yamaguchi is India's Pusarla Sindhu who booked her passage to the championship match after a hard fought 21-15, 21-18 triumph over China’s Chen Yufei.

The silver medallist at both at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the World Championship in August will meet Yamaguchi in the women’s final.

Sindhu, a silver medalist at both the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and August's World Championship, took the opening game comfortably but had to battle her way through in the next as Yufei staged a strong challenge, clawing back from 15-11 to lead 15-16 at one stage.

However, some unforced errors saw the Chinese teenager fall behind again 19-16 before winning a long rally (57 shots) and another to close in on 19-18.

But nerves got the better of her as she smashed one into the net and sent a back-hand wide to leave the large Indian contingent at Hamdan Sports Complex celebrating another win for Sindhu.

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Men’s singles:

Viktor Axelsen (DEN) bt Shi Yuqi (CHN) 21-12, 21-8; Lee Chong Wei (MAS) bt Son Wan-ho (KOR) 21-17, 21-12.

Women’s singles:

Akane Yamaguchi (JPN) bt Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) 17-21, 21-12, 21-19; Pusarla Sindhu (IND) bt Chen Yufei (CHN) 21-15, 21-18.

Men’s doubles:

Marcus Gideon/Kevin Sukamuljo (INA) bt Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (JPN) 21-10, 18-21, 21-16, Liu Cheng/Zhang Nan (CHN) bt Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (DEN) 21-17, 21-16.

Women’s doubles:

Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota (JPN) bt Huang Yaqiong/Yu Xiaohan (CHN) 21-13, 21-14; Shiho Tanaka/Koharu Yonemoto (JPN) bt Kamilla Juhl/Christinna Pedersen (DEN) 21-19, 21-19.

Mixed doubles:

Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet (HK) bt Wang Yilyu/Huang Dongping (CHN) 18-21, 21-18, 21-17; Zheng Siwei/Chen Qingchen (CHN) bt Tontawi Ahmad/Liliyana Natsir (INA) 21-12 21-17.