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Axelsen reigns supreme on thrilling final day at Yonex All England

Viktor Axelsen fulfilled a ‘dream come true’ as he romped to an imperious first Yonex All England title on finals day at Arena Birmingham.

The Great Dane was in scintillating form in the Midlands, breezing past No.1 seed Chou Tien-chen 21-13 21-14 to make amends for his defeat against Kento Momota in the final last year.

The world No.7 - seeded second in the competition after his brilliant form this year - was at his powerful best as the Taiwanese world No.2 could do nothing to suppress his dominance all over the court.

In lifting the trophy Axelsen became the first Danish player to do so since Peter Gade back in 1999, ending a 21-year wait and joining an illustrious list of Scandinavian players who have been crowned king of Birmingham including Morten Frost, Erland Kops and Poul-Erik Høyer Larsen.

And 26-year-old Axelsen, who also stormed to Barcelona Masters glory last month, branded it a super Sunday he would never forget.

“This means a lot to me - it is a big, big, big dream come true and it’s up there with all my biggest achievements in my career so far,” he said.

“Obviously right now I’m both happy and really emotional - it’s just crazy.

“I don’t really want to rank all my achievements, but this is up there with my biggest achievements  - it’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

“I’m an emotional guy - if you’re not happy and get cheered up by winning the Yonex All England in front of this amazing crowd, then you’re never going to be."

Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe won a thrilling men’s doubles final, toppling world No.1s and two-time champions Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo in three captivating games.

The Japanese sixth seeds had taken the lead with a 21-18 victory in the first game, before the first seeds levelled with a classy 21-12 triumph in the second.

But it was the world No.6s who pulled through after a topsy-turvy decider, clinching a 21-19 win to hand Endo his maiden All England title after being runner-up three times before alongside former partner Kenichi Hayakawa.

“This is a really special tournament for us, we love playing here and we are so happy we could win today," Endo said.

"We are way too happy to put this into words - we cannot believe this has happened, it was an amazing experience and we won’t stop here!”

Watanabe added: “We really pulled through until the end and were happy that many, many people cheered us on, and we are very thankful for those cheers.”

Tai Tzu-ying enacted revenge for her 2019 defeat against Chen Yufei in the women’s singles final, winning in two scintillating games to make it a memorable trifecta of Yonex All England victories.

The No.2 seed - who lost 17-21 17-21 against Chen in last year’s final - took the first game a hard-fought 21-19, before cruising to a 21-15 triumph in the second to take a further step into the terrain of badminton greatness.

“I’m very excited to be back at and to have won the Yonex All England,” she said.

“I’ve very familiar with playing against Chen as I’ve played against her so many times, and I’ve performed really well against her.

“Chen is a very skilful player who doesn’t tend to make very many mistakes.

“But I put her under pressure today, and I’m very happy that I was able to control the rallies well."

It was third time lucky for Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota in the women’s doubles, kicking off the day’s proceedings with a comfortable 21-13 21-15 win against sixth seeds Du Yue and Li Yinhui.

The world No.3s lost in the Birmingham final in 2018, before being knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual champions Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan the following year.

But they shone the brightest in the 2020 final, delivering an unerring display against the Chinese pair who had broken English hearts by beating Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith the previous evening.

“Obviously we lost in the final two years ago and in the semi-finals last year so we are really happy we could win as we didn’t think this moment would happen," Hirota said.

Fukushima added: “We are really happy that the tournament took place with everything else that is happening in the world and with issues of the tournament being possibly cancelled.

“This will encourage us for our next tournaments - we have to prepare properly, especially for the Olympics.”

Praveen Jordan stormed to a second Yonex All England title in the mixed doubles - but had a different partner by his side.

The Indonesian star was accompanied by Melati Daeva Oktavianti on Sunday, beating Thai third seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai in a compelling contest.

And he also held the mixed doubles crown aloft in 2016, beating Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christinna Pedersen alongside the now-retired Debby Susanto.

“I’m very humbled to win the Yonex All England Championships for the second time with a different partner,” he said.

“I want to say thank you to all the Indonesian fans who have come over here and supported us this week.”

And that capped off a scintillating five days of action at Arena Birmingham, where the thrills and spills of the Yonex All England Championships kept thousands of fans entertained in a superb tournament that did not disappoint.