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India Open 2018: Top seed Viktor Axelsen pulls out

992   //    28 Jan 2018, 23:25 IST

Daihatsu Indonesia Masters 2018
Viktor Axelsen

What’s the story?

India’s premier badminton tournament -- the $350, 000 Dr. Akhilesh Das Gupta India Open 2018 -- scheduled to be held in New Delhi from January 30, 2018, suffered a big blow on Sunday with the top seed Viktor Axelsen announcing his decision to pull out of the event.

Axelsen informed his fans on his Instagram account that an ankle injury will prevent him from defending the title he won last year by beating Chou Tien Chen.

In case you didn’t know

Axelsen is highly popular in India and was recently in the country for nearly three weeks as he led the Bengaluru Blasters to the final at the Premier Badminton League 2018.

The heart of the matter

Axelsen suffered the said injury during his second round match against the World No. 21 Kazumasa Sakai of Japan at the Indonesia Masters this week. Towards the end of a tight first game, the world champion made a bad landing on his left foot and that hurt his ankle.

The pain gradually got worse with each rally and it forced the Danish star to retire while trailing 20-22, 7-11 as he did not want to compound the problem. It also ended the six-match winning streak of Axelsen, who came to the tournament after winning the Malaysia Masters the week before.

This Sunday, the World No. 1 updated that his ankle is still causing him problems and that he is disappointed to not be able to play in India.

Despite Axelsen’s pullout, the tournament will still have quite a few of the big stars. All the top Indian stars led by the second seeded Kidambi Srikanth return to action at this event.

HS Prannoy, Parupalli Kashyap, B Sai Praneeth, Ajay Jayaram, Sameer Verma and Sourabh Verma all feature in the men’s singles draw, apart from Chou Tien Chen, Shi Yuqi, Wang Tzu Wei and Anders Antonsen.

What’s next?

Axelsen’s next major tournament should be the All England Championships, which is to be held from March 14-18.

Author’s take

An injury at the very start of the season is most unfortunate. With the entire season lying ahead, taking proper care to let the injury heal is of utmost importance. Axelsen has indeed taken a wise decision, albeit it will be a major loss for Indian fans.