Axelsen, 22, dug deep in an epic third set to prevail 21-14, 6-21, 21-17 as the men’s singles reached a dramatic conclusion and made up for his defeat to Japan’s Kento Momota in the same season-ending event last year.
Edging an incredible 52-shot rally against his tireless Chinese opponent while 17-16 up during the deciding stanza was to prove key to the 2010 BWF World Junior Championships winner tasting success at the seventh time of asking in Superseries showpieces.
For Axelsen, he was overjoyed to finish off in style a breakthrough year which has also included historic victory with his nation at May’s Thomas Cup and rise to no.4 in the global rankings.
Watch the Dane’s video action to his triumph above.
This was in contrast to world no.1 Tai Tzu-ying’s 37-minute stroll to reclaiming her Hamdan Sports Complex crown. The 2014 women’s singles winner from Chinese Taipei breezed past a tired Sung Jihyun of South Korea – drained by Saturday’s semi-final battle against India’s Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist PV Sindhu – by 21-14, 21-13.
Meanwhile, humble women’s champion Tai credited “fate” for her dominance in Dubai.
The 22-year-old simply kept the shuttlecock in play and watched her jaded competitor commit a series of fatal errors.
“It was fate to win this title for a second time,” said Tai.
“I had played against Sung already in the group stage and lost. I learned from that experience.
“Games against Sung are normally very intense, so I was quite surprised that it was smoother than usual.”
Elsewhere, China scooped two doubles golds on Sunday.
It was a special day for teenager Chen Qingchen as she claimed both women’s and mixed doubles crowns to take her 2016 title tally to six – which is more than any other player.
She teamed-up with Jia Yifan in the women’s event, downing Japanese Olympic gold medallists and world No1 pairing Misaki Matsutomo and Ayaka Takahashi in a tense three-game match (21-15, 13-21, 21-17).
Only a matter of hours later, the 19-year-old then linked up with Zheng Siwei to see off England’s defending champions Chris Adcock and Gabrielle Adcock by 21-12, 21-12.
After her Dubai double, Chen revealed that she plans to buy a car for her father from the two winners’ cheques of $84,000which she will split between Jia and Zheng.
“I am super grateful and thankful for both of my partners who helped keep me motivated on court,” the Chinese shuttler said.
In the men’s doubles final, Malaysian duo Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong took the title with a brisk 40-minute 21-14, 21-19 success over Japan’s top two Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.
It was the pair’s third title of 2016, adding to their wins in India and Denmark, as well as their Olympic silver medals in Rio.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, we have finally achieved our targets this year – it’s been an amazing year for us,” said an overjoyed Shem after his latest success.
The Olympic silver medallist, who was edged by Korean Sung Ji-Hyun in a three-set epic on Saturday night, is looking forward to big goals ahead in 2017 after a successful campaign.
The 21-year-old Hyderabad-native says her ultimate ambition is to claim top spot in the world rankings and one day become All England Open Badminton Champion.
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Crowd favourite PV Sindhu couldn’t make her UAE stay a triumphant one as the Indian crashed out of the semi-finals following a back-and-forth tug of war with Sung Ji Hyun in the Dubai World Superseries Finals.
The packed house at Hamdan Sports Complex deafeningly cheered on the Olympic silver medallist, but the backing wasn’t enough to overcome a dominant third-game display by the Korean, who booked her place in the women’s singles final with a 21-15, 18-21, 21-15 win on Saturday.
Sung jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the deciding game, seizing all the cushion she would need to stave off Sindhu’s scrappy fightback. The barrage also erased any momentum her opponent had built up after winning the final three points of the second game to even the match.
“I think from the beginning of the third set, I would have kept much more control,” Sindhu said of what she would have done differently. “I gave her [four] points in a row, so that I would have changed.
“She went on and kept going. I think that made a big difference.”
The first game was tight until the very end, when Sung pulled away by claiming six of the final seven points on offer.
With both players evenly-matched, the result came down to which players went on more scoring runs and on this day, that distinction belonged to Sung.
“She knows my game and I know her game,” Sindhu said. “It depends on that day.”
For Sung, it was a courageous effort in front of a very one-sided audience, but the world No4 felt the raucous environment might have actually played in her favour, if at all.
PV Sindhu loses to Hyun Sung of Kor 15-21 21-18 15-21 in the SF of BWF SS Finals— Sports India (@SportsIndia3) December 17, 2016
What an amazing year for sindhu.keep making us proud🇮🇳🇮🇳🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/cOaX8uTejz
“There was great fan support for Sindhu but sometimes that may also put pressure on her because there is a lot of expectation,” Sung said.
“But actually for me I was trying to forget about the atmosphere and focus on the game. It didn’t really matter very much to me.”
Regardless, Sindhu certainly noticed the increase in turnout and was thankful of the overwhelming support.
“A big thanks to everybody because the whole week they’ve been very supportive. Definitely I would come back next year hopefully with good results,” she said.
Sung will now meet Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying in the final today after the world No1 punched her ticket to the title match earlier with a 21-19, 21-19 victory over China’s Sun Yu.
Tai, who won in Dubai in 2014, reversed history by ending a five-match drought against Sun with an impressive performance.
In the second game, Tai overcame an early 3-0 hole and later, when it appeared Sun would force a decider, earned seven of the final nine points to seal the win.
“I’ve always made too many mistakes in past matches against her, while she was always stable,” Tai said. “Today I tried to cut down on the errors. I’m very happy to have finally beaten her after five losses.”