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All England Open 2021: Lee Zii Jia upsets Axelsen to win maiden title, Nozomi Okuhara crowned winner a second timeΒ 

Lee Zii Jia
Lee Zii Jia
Sohinee Basu
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 22 Mar 2021
News

The 111th edition of the All England Open drew to a close with Japan's Nozomi Okuhara and Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia getting crowned as champions.

For World No. 4 Nozomi Okuhara, this was her second All England Open title win. She ousted Thailand's Pornpawee Chochuwong. Meanwhile, 22-year-old Lee Zii Jia took home a maiden All England Open title, defeating defending champion Viktor Axelsen in an epic final.

In the women's finals, Nozomi Okuhara did not have to break too much sweat against Chochuwong as she claimed a second All England Open title in straight games, 21-12, 21-16.

In the men's finals, however, the story was entirely different. An extremely high octane match was played out between an inspired Zii Jia and an aggressive Axelsen.

The match stretched over three marathon games. Both players fought tooth and nail before Zii Jia had the last word, winning 30-29, 20-22, 21-9.


Nozomi Okuhara dominates Pornpawee Chochuwong to bag the All England Open 2021

Nozomi Okuhara
Nozomi Okuhara

World No. 4 Nozomi Okuhara meant business coming into the final of the All England Open as she took on World No. 11 Thai talent Pornpawee Chochuwong. Having outplayed Ratchanok Intanon in a heated semi-final clash, Okuhara was in no mood to waste unnecessary points as she dominated from the get-go.

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Having won the 2016 All England Open, Nozomi Okuhara seemed determined to add a second title. Chochuwong, who came into the match having defeated India's PV Sindhu, looked spent and Okuhara cashed in on that with her experience.

A bronze medalist from the 2016 Rio Olympics, Okuhara did not have to work too hard as she raced on to a second title at the All England Open, 21-12, 21-16.


Lee Zii Jia stuns Viktor Axelsen to win the All England Open 2021

Lee Zii Jia
Lee Zii Jia

In a rematch of the 2020 semi-final clash at the All England Open, the young Lee Zii Jia locked horns with defending champion Viktor Axelsen.

Zii Jia, who stormed into the final of the All England Open 2021 after defeating Netherlands' Mark Caljouw, was at his tenacious best. Taking on reigning World No. 2 Axelsen, the World No. 10 player from Malaysia played an inspired match that lasted a grueling 1 hour and 14 minutes.

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The first game required as many as 59 points to determine the winner. Zii Jia pushed Axelsen to his extremes before taking it 30-29. Not to be written off so quickly, Axelsen fought back in the second game, winning 20-22.

By then, the signs of exhaustion were beginning to show in the 27-year-old Axelsen's game and before long, Zii Jia made a final dash in the deciding game, winning the marathon 30-29, 20-22, 21-9.

Lee Zii Jia's stunning victory over Axelsen at the All England Open is a major indicator of the Malaysian's future dominance on the badminton circuit. Especially in the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, Zii Jia, with his current form, has the potential to very well be a top medal contender.

Moreover, with his aggressive style of play, Zii Jia could possibly follow in the footsteps of the former Malaysian legendary player, Lee Chong Wei.

Published 22 Mar 2021, 13:55 IST
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