Axelsen sails into Malaysia Open badminton semis

World number one Viktor Axelsen cruised into the Malaysia Open badminton semi-finals on Friday, easily crushing Japan's Kenta Nishimoto 21-6, 21-12.

The Danish defending champion attributed his quick 38-minute win to an extra rest day, which he gained when his opponent in the previous round pulled out injured.

"I have had two days' rest. Physically I felt fresh, and Kenta played an extra match at a high pace. So maybe physically he was a little tired," Axelsen told reporters after the match.

Nishimoto did not do himself any favours by starting with a flurry of errors.

When he regained some momentum, Axelsen had already raced to a seven-point lead in the first game.

Top-seeded Axelsen left his opponent little margin for error as he dominated with precise smashes that left Nishimoto largely defenceless.

Nishimoto improved in the second game where he tried to engage Axelsen in sustained rallies, but the Dane was superior in both attack and defence to seal a comfortable victory.

In the semis Axelsen will face another Japanese player, Kanta Tsuneyama, against whom he holds a 5-1 win record.

"I think it will be a challenging match. I always go into a match with full respect for my opponent," the 29-year-old Dane said.

Axelsen has been in sensational form over the past year, with eight titles to his name in 2022 including the All-England and World Championships.

He is on a collision course with Kodai Naraoka ahead of the final, with the Japanese rising star beating India's H.S. Prannoy 21-16, 19-21, 21-10 on Friday.

Naraoka will face Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the semis.

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