Badminton: Dane Axelsen becomes world No. 1 after Momota’s withdrawal in Tour final, Sport News & Top Stories

DENPASAR, INDONESIA (AFP) – Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen rose to world number one on Wednesday December 1 after beating compatriot Rasmus Gemke in the group stage of the World Tour Badminton final in Indonesia.

The 27-year-old won gold in the men’s singles at this year’s Tokyo Games and overtakes Kento Momota of Japan, as Gemke retired from his match due to injury.

Momota was the world’s best male player since September 2018 and also retired from his game, just a minute after his start.

“I’m so sorry for my fans to end up like this,” said Momota, who injured her back in training earlier today.

The 27-year-old, who won a record 11 titles in 2019, and Gemke have dropped out of the competition as their remaining matches were considered forfeits under tournament rules.

Axelsen is now favorite for the title and will meet unranked Indian player Lakshya Sen in his next group game on Thursday.

The World Tour finals mark the end of the season of three consecutive tournaments played under strict biosecurity conditions on the Indonesian resort island and without spectators.

In the draw for the World Championships from December 12 to 19 held yesterday, second seed Axelsen was chosen to meet Loh Kean Yew in the first round in Huelva, Spain.

This is the third time in three months that he will face the 20th Singaporean. He has won the previous two matches, the most recent being Sunday’s Indonesian Open final.

Seeded Momota got off to a much easier start, meeting Poland’s Michal Rogalski.

Earlier, Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi finished her Tour final women’s singles group match in 34 minutes, beating Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min in consecutive matches 21-11, 21-14.

Thailand’s top mixed doubles pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai beat home favorites Praveen Jordan and Melati Daeva Oktavianti 21-14, 10-21, 21-11.

“Today’s games were close. We were under pressure and almost struggled to find the rhythm of the game,” said Sapsiree.

Yeo has received a pass for her debut World Championships match and will meet Scotland’s 21st World Kirsty Gilmour or Japan’s 22nd Aya Ohori in the round of 16.

Chinese Taipei’s top seed Tai Tzu-ying and second seed Yamaguchi both also received first-round passes.

Tai is set to meet fourth seed and home favorite Carolina Marin, who also enjoys a first-round pass, in the semifinals. The Spaniard is aiming for a fourth world title.

About Walter J. Leslie

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