Axelsen wins game and hearts with beautiful gesture

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Axelsen wins game and hearts with beautiful gesture
World champion Viktor Axelsen in action against Chou Tien Chen.

Dubai - Dane wins clash with good friend Chou Tien Chen to book semifinals place in Dubai World Superseries Finals

By Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Fri 15 Dec 2017, 7:24 PM

Last updated: Fri 15 Dec 2017, 9:29 PM

World champion Viktor Axelsen won more than a game of badminton on an unforgettable Friday evening.

For the record, the giant Dane won his do-or-die Group B clash with good friend Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan 21-16, 14-21, 21-15 to book his place in the semifinals of the Dubai World Superseries Finals at Hamdan Sports Complex.

But what will never be found on any record books is the heart of a true champion that he showed after winning a contentious point in the third set.

When the match was delicately poised in the decider, Axelsen's racquet touched the net while going for a smash. The chair umpire failed to see that. Despite protest from Chen, the point was controversially awarded to the defending Dubai World Superseries Finals champion.

Axelsen, who this year became the third Danish player in history to win the World Championship, then played a tame return to gift the next point to his opponent, drawing a big applause from his adoring fans.

"The umpire should have seen it. So I decided to give a point to show that it's a fair game and also to make a statement that this is not good enough," Axelsen told reporters after the match.

"They should be able to see such things even though it was my point this time, it could have been Chou's as well," he added.

The 23-year-old star then backed the use of technology on contentious points in badminton.

"I think we should have a replay for points like that in badminton. Players should have the right to challenge such decisions," he said.

Chen, who went out of the championship with his second defeat in the group stage, heaped praise on his friend Axelsen for the beautiful gesture.

"That incident didn't affect my game. I didn't lose the match because of that. The judge didn't do the right thing. It was a bad decision, but Viktor showed great sporting spirit," Chen said after the match.

"Overall, it was a very good match. It was a fair match. I have no complaints."

Axelsen, on the other hand, didn't look too happy with his performance despite advancing to the last four-stage in the season-ending finale where he is eyeing to become only the second player in history after Malaysian legend Lee Chong Wei to defend the title.

"It was up and down definitely today. I didn't have a great start, but managed to step up and win the match. I was really happy about that, but I can't say the same about my overall performance," he said.

"Physically I didn't feel really good. But, of course, I am happy that I am through."

The world number one now expects a tough match in the semifinals on Saturday.

"Right now I am just focusing on my next game. I don't know who I will play with and I don't know when I will play so I just have to do what I can do to be ready physically and mentally for the game."

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