The Dane will face a familiar foe in Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) in Sunday’s final, as the four-time champion from Malaysia bids for his first title in Dubai.
Axelsen stamped his authority from the early stages, showing greater intent than he had during his loss in the group match to Shi.
“It was a new day. Unfortunately it seems like he suffered a bit,” said Axelsen. “I’m happy with the way I played. I felt a little bit (strain) in my back at the end of the second game, but it’s okay now.
“I accepted that I might not be 120 percent. I’ve been in the final three times now, I hope I can make it two wins. I’m happy to be here, it’s an awesome place, and I’m enjoying it.”
Lee Chong Wei had blown a commanding lead against Son Wan Ho on Friday in their group clash but the Malaysian did not give his opponent an inch in their last four clash.
It proved to be a one-sided contest as Lee completed proceedings in 49 minutes at 21-17, 21-11.
Meanwhile, the women’s singles final will see crowd favourite Pusarla V Sindhu of India take on Japan’s Akane Yamaguchi.
Yamaguchi’s in-the-trenches resolve saw her beat Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon 17-21, 21-12, 21-19 in an enthralling semi-final encounter to make her first Dubai final.
Pusarla had her hands full against Chen Yufei who was always in the right place at the right time.
It was the Indian who had to do all the hard work, but the progress was incremental – Pusarla stitching up a lead, only to see Chen pulling close.
At a game and 15-11, the Indian had found momentum, but Chen was tenacious, and with every rally, Pusarla started to flag under the pace.
A 57-shot rally found Pusarla bent over, with Chen narrowing the lead to 17-19; but the Chinese teen showed her inexperience and faltered on the last couple of points to enable the Indian to slip away at 21-15 21-18.
“It was a good quality match, even though it was over in straight games, there were a lot of long rallies. I’m happy to be the first Indian in the Women’s Singles final here; I would like to become the first Indian to win the title as well!”
A short chat with pioneering UAE surfer Mo Rahma is all you need to appreciate how much he loves his sport. Although for him, calling surfing a sport doesn’t do it justice.
“Surfing is more than just a sport,” Rahma says in the video above (provided by Abu Dhabi Sports Council). “It’s a lifestyle, and that’s what I love about it.”
“It incorporates all my life. It’s my stress releaser, my place to go and zone out, and clear my mind from all the stress.”
Part of that lifestyle for Rahma includes an intense training routine, and he also credits meditation and yoga for helping him develop and improve his surfing ability.
I'm super proud to be Emirati and have amazing leaders and beautiful and amazing country united arab Emirates ... this pic was from the first surf comp that i represented my beloved #uae اللهم احفظ هذا الوطن الغالي وادم عليه امنه ووحدته وارحم بانيه ووفق قيادته وشعبه لكل خير يارب .. عروس تحتفل في عامها ال ٤٦ #uaenationalday #46 #UAE #mydubai #dubai #abudhabi #stoked #stokedemirati #fun #party #summer #celebration #family #proud #travel #goodvibes #lovelife #love #sea #ocean #peru #ripcurlmiddleeast #surf #surfing #surfer
While the UAE may not be famous for its big swells, Rahma makes the most of the facilities available to him in the country, and trains at the wavepool Wadi Adventure in Al Ain,
“Meditation is a big key,” he explains. “It makes my mind clear. Yoga is amazing. it gives you mobility, it gives you strength.
“I also train with a friend to do surf-specific training, and I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my surfing.”
Rahma, who is the UAE’s first international competitive surfer, paid tribute to the local surfing culture, calling the community in the UAE “absolutely amazing”.
It’s that appreciation of UAE’s budding surf scene that is motivating Rahma to do his best and inspire the next generation of young surfers.
“My core idea of pushing myself to the limit is to establish a new generation that can take over,” he says. “Hopefully they can compete and hopefully we can find the next champion of the UAE.”
— World Surf League (@wsl) March 6, 2017