Badminton: Viktor Axelsen reaches Japan Open final, faces Lee Chong Wei

Viktor Axelsen of Denmark celebrates his victory against Son Wan-Ho of South Korea during their men’s singles semifinal match at the Japan Open Badminton Championships in Tokyo on September 23, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 23 September 2017
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Badminton: Viktor Axelsen reaches Japan Open final, faces Lee Chong Wei

TOKYO: Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen defeated world number one Son Wan-Ho in the men’s singles semifinals at the Japan Open on Saturday.
Axelsen, who beat two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China to clinch the world title in Glasgow last month, overpowered South Korea’s Son with a 21-16, 21-16 win.
He now faces Malaysian Lee Chong Wei who has won the Japan Open six times. Lee booked a spot in the final after a 21-19, 21-8 win over China’s Shi Yuqi.
In the women’s singles, Spain’s Carolina Marin, Olympic gold medalist last year, reached the final as Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara dropped out from the semifinals due to knee trouble.
Marin faces China’s He Bingjiao who beat Chen Yufei 21-14, 25-23.
Okuhara, newly crowned women’s world champion, was aiming to reclaim the trophy on home soil after winning it in 2015.
Home fans at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium expressed disappointment when the organizers announced her withdrawal.
“I did my best (to recover) but this morning, I wasn’t in the condition to play,” Okuhara, 22, told reporters, according to Sankei Sports.
“I was ready for a battle mentally but my body was telling me I couldn’t,” she said in tears.


Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

Updated 19 July 2019
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Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

  • The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands

CAIRO: Algeria midfielder Adlene Guedioura says Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal represents the “match of a lifetime” as his country bids to capture the title for a second time.

The Desert Foxes lifted their lone trophy on home soil in 1990 but coach Djamel Belmadi has reinvigorated a team that crashed out in the group stage two years ago and then flopped in World Cup qualifying.

“I think it’s the match of a lifetime for a lot of players in the team and for Algeria,” said Guedioura, who at 33 is the oldest member of the squad.

The Nottingham Forest journeyman has started five of six games in Egypt and insisted much of the credit for Algeria’s eye-catching performances must go to former national team midfielder Belmadi.

“He really knows the players and what he wants. The good thing is he knows how to get through to the players and how to listen,” said the 48-time international.

“If you don’t have a good cook you can’t have a good recipe. With that we realize we can be all together and it’s important to be a team.

“It’s important for Algeria because we used to have good individuals and now we feel very strong as a team and we want to achieve as a team.”

A Youcef Belaili goal earned Algeria a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the group stage, but Belmadi was quick to point out the statistics were heavily weighted in their opponents’ favor.

“Of course we can lose this match. We have an opponent that is number one in the FIFA rankings for Africa. They were at the World Cup. We were eliminated in the first round in 2017,” said Belmadi.

“If you get to the final, the aim is obviously to win it. The game in the group stage wasn’t decisive but now it is and that’s the difference.”

He added: “The most important is to stay concentrated and determined yet calm at the same time.”

Algeria will have the backing of an additional 4,800 fans for the final.

Some of them will arrive in Cairo on military planes organized by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands.

In April, long-standing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after weekly Friday protests against his expected candidacy for elections, and football fans have been heavily involved in demonstrations.

“We know what’s happening. The people we represent have been wonderful,” said Guedioura

“It’s magnificent what is happening. We’re focused on football but we want to win the final for the people,” he added.