Kunlavut stuns world No. 1 Axelsen to win Indian Open title


Red-hot Kunlavut Vitidsarn ended his losing streak to world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, shocking the Dane in a thrilling three-game final of the Yonex Sunrise Indian Open on Sunday in New Delhi.

The Thai, who had not beaten Axelsen in any of their six head-to-head contests played without inhibition on Sunday, combining a mixture of a solid defensive game and attacking tactics to derail the reigning Olympic champion 22-20, 10-21, 21-12 in 64 minutes.

It was the first triumph for Kunlavut in a BWF World Tour Super 750 event, and his second win on the World Tour. The Thai world No. 3 had claimed his maiden crown at the German Open (Super 300) last year.

In their previous encounters, the Thai’s incessant retrieving had proved in vain against the hard-hitting Dane who used to dictate points with his explosive smashes. But the tables were turned on the Dane on Sunday, as Kunlavut intensified his offensive game, never allowing the world champion to settle down.

Axelsen held a marginal edge in the opening game when he rallied from 12-15 to level scores at 18-all and held a game point at 20-19 in the opener. Two net shots went in favour of Kunlavut, giving the Thai the opening game.

Kunlavut stuns world No. 1 Axelsen to win Indian Open title

The Dane was in full command in the second game, overwhelming the Thai No. 1 with his trademark smashes, winning easily at 21-10. 

The 21-year-old Thai was at his best in the decider, quickly gaining the upper-hand at 15-10. Kunlavut stayed in control with his attacking game and well-placed shots to wrap up the match conceding only two more points. 

Kunlavut became the second Thai male to win the Indian Open after Boonsak Polsana in 2008. Kunlavut will next head to the Super 1000 Indonesia Open, which begins on Tuesday, and then return to Thailand for the Princess Masters in early February.

The women’s title was won by South Korean An Se Young, who stunned Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi 15-21, 21-16, 21-12.

On Saturday, top seed Yamaguchi had eliminated Thai hope Supanida Katethong 21-17, 21-16.