World number one and reigning world champion Viktor Axelsen has confirmed that of the 27 tournaments that make up the all new HSBC BWF World Tour, it is the YONEX All England that will command his attention for 2018.
It has been 19 years since a European lifted high the men’s singles trophy at the YONEX All England and after a 2017 littered with titles, Axelsen is right to harbour grand hopes of emulating his compatriot Peter Gade.
The towering Dane was well fancied to end Europe’s long wait last season before falling to Lin Dan at the Quarter Final stage – in a repeat of the Rio 2016 bronze medal match. But big wins in India, Japan, and notably Glasgow then Dubai, will have further buoyed confidence ahead of a return to Birmingham.
Axelsen will bring his own expectation to the Super 1000 event this time around.
“My target for 2018 will be the All England, the World Championships and the Thomas Cup” the 23 year old said whilst out in India playing for Bengaluru Blasters in season three of the PBL
“I have time to prepare well before the All England [starting March 14] and I will try to take benefit of that and prepare in the best possible way.
"With the packed schedule these days, you have to be happy when you have the time to practice. Hopefully, I can be there in good form and good shape there."
Axelsen will start those preparations ahead of the YONEX All England in Kuala Lumpur at the Malaysia Masters – a Super 500 tier event on the new HSBC BWF World Tour - before tackling the Indonesia Masters.
But he is rightly wary of a heavy schedule, and has been more vocal than most about the pressures that will come from a packed tournament calendar.
“I have to focus on choosing the right tournaments where I can play my best and I also have to accept that I can’t be at 100% always” he added.
“The quality is high in men’s singles. It is really tight. Everytime you play if you can’t bring you’re a game, your best game, you can lose out to a lot of players”.
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