In a grueling semifinal match versus Japanese player Kodai Naraoka on Saturday at the badminton World Tour Finals that concluded the season, Viktor Axelsen, the world’s best player, came out on top.

Seeming anxiety in a long semifinal match against Kodai Naraoka of Japan on Saturday at the badminton World Tour Finals, which concluded the season, Viktor Axelsen, the world’s best player, came out on top.

After the tournament’s first host, China withdrew because of its draconian Covid regulations, the Badminton World Federation moved its $1.5 million marquee event to the Thai capital’s Nimibutr Arena.

Following a shocking loss to India’s H.S. Prannoy yesterday—only his third setback this year—self-assurance Axelsen’s seemed shaken.

The Olympic champion defeated Naraoka earlier this week in the group stage in 33 minutes, but on Saturday, the Japanese fighter, rated 14th, unleashed a deadly onslaught and seemed like a real challenger throughout the one-hour and 23-minute contest.

In the first game, there was a struggle for nerves. Axelsen led by two points at the half, but his opponent picked up the tempo and won 23-21 on a fourth game point.

Although Naraoka’s spirited onslaught put steady pressure on the 28-year-old Dane, he recovered to win the second 21-19. In the match’s decider, Naraoka put up some amazing rallies and had some excellent net play, but he lacked the endurance to win. Seven times, Axelsen converted on match-point chances, ultimately triumphing 21-18 in the tiebreaker.

The confrontation was the most difficult one for him this year, according to Axelsen. Kodai is a young player whom I greatly admire. According to Axelsen, he has a very promising future.

Foregoing Axelsen’s customary strong smash wins, Naraoka informed reporters he chose a low-play strategy. In the final on Sunday, Axelsen will face Anthony Ginting, a star from Indonesia.

In an earlier match, Ginting defeated fellow countryman Jonatan Christie in a fast-paced, intense contest 21-15, 11-21, and 21-18. We each are aware of our areas of strength and weakness, and the game was pretty challenging.

Olympic gold medalist Chen Yufei was defeated by world champion Akane Yamaguchi in the women’s draw, 21-19, 21-10, to secure her place in the championship round.

I played brilliantly with all of my strength and ability in the second game, and the victory in the first game gave me more confidence and helped me easily prevail. My energy levels were OK, but I didn’t seem to be acting with enough conviction. I kept making changes, but eventually, I believe I was moving too slowly.

Yamaguchi’s opponent on Sunday will be Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan, who defeated He Bing Jiao of China in the other semifinal 21-18, 21-14. Because Yamaguchi plays at a faster tempo, I’ll try to match her tomorrow. s