Viktor Axelsen withdraws from Malaysia Masters and Singapore Open, citing fatigue

Denmark's badminton world No.1 Viktor Axelsen returns a shot in the Malaysia Open men's singles final.
Denmark's badminton world No.1 Viktor Axelsen returns a shot in the Malaysia Open men's singles final. (PHOTO: Annice Lyn/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Men's world No.1 shuttler Viktor Axelsen has withdrawn from this week's Malaysian Masters as well as next week's Singapore Badminton Open, citing fatigue after playing - and winning - numerous back-to-back tournaments these past two months.

In an official statement to the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) by the Danish badminton federation on Tuesday (5 July), Denmark head coach Kenneth Jonassen wrote, “Viktor is withdrawing from the Singapore Open 2022 due to fatigue of playing back to back tournaments. He will now turn his focus to the BWF World Championships in Tokyo.”

Axelsen, 28, had also written a post on his Instagram page which he has since deleted. It had said, "I would have loved to compete again here in (Kuala Lumpur) this week and then in (Singapore). However when I woke up this morning my body and my head was telling me that it's time to rest and recharge before I step on the court again.

"I need some days off to rest, celebrate my recent wins with my family and then build up towards new goals."

Axelsen has been on a tear this year, winning the men's singles competitions at the European Championships, All-England Open, Indonesia Masters, Indonesia Open and Malaysia Open.

Axelsen withdrawal a boost for Loh Kean Yew

While fans will be disappointed to not be able to see Axelsen in action in the next two weeks, his absence could be a further boost for Singapore's reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew, as he seeks to become the first local men's singles champion at the Singapore Open since Wee Choon Seng in 1962.

Axelsen would have been a formidable opponent for the world No.9 in the final, as they are drawn in opposite halves. Loh, however, had stunned the Dane en route to his memorable Badminton World Championships triumph last December.

With Axelsen's withdrawal, there are only three higher-seeded players than Loh at the men's singles competition at the Open, which will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from 12 to 17 July: Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen (world No.4), and Indonesians Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (world No.6) and Jonatan Christie (world No.8).

The likes of Japan's world No.2 Kento Momota and Malaysia's world No.5 Lee Zii Jia have decided to skip the Open to focus on next month's Badminton World Championships. Meanwhile, Danes Anders Antonsen (world No.3) and Rasmus Gemke (world No.13) have pulled out with injuries.

Loh will face France's Brice Leverdez in his opening round on 13 July, and could face Indonesia veteran Tommy Sugiarto in the round of 16.

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