Axelsen to face defending champ Chen in Olympic badminton final
TOKYO, Aug 1, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Denmark's badminton world number two Viktor Axelsen overcame a nervy start to move into the Olympic final on Sunday, ending Guatemalan underdog Kevin Cordon's unlikely tilt at the title.
World number 59 Cordon has been the surprise package in Tokyo but Axelsen was ultimately too clinical for him, winning their semi-final 21-18, 21-11.
The Dane will face China's defending champion Chen Long in Monday's final, and he was glad to secure a top-two finish after taking bronze at the 2016 Rio Games.
"Obviously I want more than just a final -- this is not enough for me," said Axelsen.
"I was so tense and wanted it so badly, so I couldn't even enjoy the game today. In a few hours I'll be really happy and proud, but right now it's just relief."
The two players were meeting for the first time, and Cordon's unorthodox style caused Axelsen some early problems.
"He has a really volatile playing style," said Axelsen.
"He's really aggressive, playing tricky shots and a little bit unusual shots, but with good quality. So it was tough for me to get the pace high enough."
Cordon still has a chance to claim Guatemala's second-ever Olympic medal in Monday's bronze playoff against Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting.
"I had a chance in the first set," said Cordon, whose run to the semis has captivated his native Guatemala.
"I took a risk to try to play faster than him or try to attack with my smash, but there were some easy mistakes. And of course, with these kind of top players it's not easy to win easy points."
Rio champion Chen has the chance to emulate Chinese badminton legend Lin Dan in winning consecutive Olympic titles, after beating Ginting 21-16, 21-11 in the other semi-final.
"I didn't think too much about my strategy because it's already the semi-finals -- I just needed to execute," said Chen.
"Because I haven't played internationally for the past year and a half, I don't know what level my opponents are at. That was a big question mark coming into the Olympics, so I'm happy I've been able to play well."