Viktor Axelsen playing against Zhao Jun Peng in the Indonesia Open final on Sunday.

Enter ‘Viktor Axelsen’ era

FORGET about Lin Dan, this is the “Viktor Axelsen era”, this is what the fans around the world are saying.

And few would disagree. He has dominated world badminton in the last three years.

The statistics is imposing. The world No 1 captured 13 titles from 17 finals since 2020, including the Tokyo Olympics gold.

And the 28-year-old has already won three tournaments this year, two of which came in Jakarta, the Indonesia Open and Indonesia Masters in the past two weeks after his All England triumph in March.

The successes have led to many feeling that no one can come near him — the Viking reigns as king of the court.

Yet, there is no swagger, no claim to greatness despite all his achievements as Axelsen played down talks about his invincibility.

“I don’t really think about any era of myself, to be honest. I just want to do my best all the time,” said the 2017 world champion.

Axelsen has set up his base at the Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara ahead of the Malaysia Open next week.

“I’m really happy that I managed to accomplish many of my dreams and goals. I have always dreamt of winning the Olympics, the World Championships, All England, Indonesia Open and all the big, big tournaments which I have already done, some of them twice.

“So, I’m just living the dream to be honest, but I don’t see myself as one badminton era kind of guy. I just want to play the best I can and win as many tournament as I can.”

Axelsen was also quick to point out that he simply can’t afford to rest on his laurels with the emergence of top contenders, including world No 5 Lee Zii Jia, whom he had a pulsating 70-minute battle with in the semi-finals of the Indonesia Open last Saturday.

“There are many, many good players right now. For sure if you don’t play well, many of them can beat you. Obviously Zii Jia was the one who pushed me the most in Indonesia,” said Axelsen.

“He’s a great player, everybody knows that… great talent, great guy off the court too. It’s nice to have these good players on the World Tour and this makes it even better for the fans to watch.

“As a badminton player, it’s always good to have many great competitors too. There are many good men’s singles out there, Zii Jia is obviously up there, he’s a great opponent.”

However, the Malaysia Open is one of the few tournaments Axelsen has yet to win, and it comes as no surprise that the Dane is making every effort to get himself ready for next week’s Super 750 showdown at the Axiata Arena.

Axelsen, who made the arrangement to train at the ABM through India’s Thomas Cup winner Lakhsya Sen, thanked the BA of Malaysia for hosting him.

“I was talking with Lakhsya about practising together (in Kuala Lumpur). He was planning to come here, so I asked if I could join him.

“I then spoke to Mr (Wong) Choong Hann (BAM singles coaching director) and he said that I’m more than welcomed here.

“Playing two tournaments in a row was pretty tiring physically and mentally. Now I have a week here, I’m really fortunate to be able to train here at BAM, so really thankful for that.”

Axelsen brushed off claims that his decision to train at ABM and not alongside Zii Jia was due to the latter being seen as a threat to his title hopes.

“I’m not trying to keep anything secret, as you can see even in Dubai, I train with all kind of players,” he explained.

“There’s nobody I don’t want to train with. Lakhsya was the one I was talking to.”

The usual training routine at ABM has been turned into a star-studded affair as Axelsen was not the only one who had arrived in Kuala Lumpur early.

The other stars who also train at the BAM centre of excellence include three-time women’s singles world champion Carolina Marin, Hong Kong’s men’s singles Angus Ng and Lee Cheuk Yiu, and French world No 7 mixed doubles pair Thom Gicquel and Delphine Delrue.

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