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Viktor Axelsen claims Malaysia Masters title

Viktor Axelsen of Denmark poses during the awarding ceremony after the men's singles final match against Kenta Nishimoto of Japan at Malaysia Masters 2018 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Jan. 21, 2018. Viktor Axelsen won 2-1 to claim the title. (Xinhua/Chong Voon Chung)

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- Danish shuttler Viktor Axelsen claimed his first title in 2018 at the Malaysia Masters badminton tournament on Sunday, beating Kenta Nishimoto from Japan.

In a tournament with surprises as China's Lin Dan, Chen Long and Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei being eliminated early, Kenta denied Axelsen an easy win, winning the second set by saving two match points. But Axelsen managed to maintain his lead in the third set and won the game.

However, Axelsen, who has stayed as World No. 1 since last September, evaded the question when he was asked at the press conference that whether he thinks his time has come as the dominance of both Lin Dan and Lee Chong Wei receded.

"I played well this week, but I want to play better in the All England," he said, adding All England is his biggest goal. He again lashed out at this year's tight tournament schedule, urging the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to reconsider their decision.

"If we play 20 tournaments a year, how can we play our best when we have to," he said, noting that it is not right for the BWF to give fines to those "who want to take care of their bodies and prepare for the big tournament."

The BWF stipulated that the top players must play at least 12 tournaments in 2018. Combined with other major games such as Thomas Cup Badminton, Asian Games and BWF Super Series Finals, a player may have to play 19 or 20 tournaments, an arrangement which drew the complaints of many players.

In other categories, the Chinese team's hope to win the mixed doubles was dashed when newly formed pair Zheng Siwei/Huang Yaqiong lost to Tang Chun Man/Tse Ying Suet. The Chinese women's doubles pair Chen Qingchen/Jia Yifan also lost to Kamilla Rytter Juhl/ Christinna Pedersen of Denmark.

Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei, with some foot injury, lost to Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand while Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong, the Rio Olympic silver medal pair in the men's doubles, fell to Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto from Indonesia.

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