Badminton world No. 1 Axelsen succumbs to Lee on path to Thomas quarters


Bangkok (AFP)

Veteran Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei enacted his revenge on world number one Viktor Axelsen by stunning the Dane in a two-game match in their final group encounter of the Thomas Cup on Wednesday.

Lee, 35, beat the 24-year-old star 21-9, 21-19 in 42 minutes in Bangkok, where the bi-annual badminton tournament is being held alongside the women's Uber Cup.

The Malaysian player, a former world number one who is now ranked seven in the twilight of his career, has lost to Axelsen in their past three encounters, most recently at the Dubai World Superseries Finals in December.

"I decided to be aggressive," Lee told the New Straits Times on Wednesday night, adding that beating Axelsen was "a matter of pride".

"It was a very important match and I was motivated. I have never lost to him in a team event before, and I wasn't ready to lose today," he added.

Both teams will head into the quarter finals with a shot at glory, having beaten previous foes in their Group D with 5-0 clean sweeps.

Denmark also has a title to defend after becoming the first non-Asian country to take home the trophy in 2016.

But the big challenge will be overcoming China, whose Olympic star Chen Long has helped lead his powerhouse team to three 5-0 wipeouts of Australia, France and India.

On the women's side, top-seeds Japan have been in menacing form this week, swatting away India on Wednesday 5-0 with stars Akane Yamaguchi and Nozomi Okuhara once again doing the business in the singles, while Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi secured the points in the doubles.

The men are also strong, cruising past Taiwan 5-0 Wednesday morning after two 4-1, 4-1 victories earlier in the week.

Thailand's women have so far delighted the home crowd, battering both Germany and Hong Kong in their first two ties as they aim to be seeded in the draw for the quarters.