Dubai is gearing up for a cracking men's singles final. The title match of the 2017 edition of BWF Superseries final will be contested by holder Viktor Axelsen and four-time champion Lee Chong Wei at the Hamdan Sports Complex on Sunday, December 17.
Axelsen, who is reigning supreme in BWF rankings, demolished world number eight Shi Yuqi 21-12, 21-8 in just 42 minutes on Saturday to reach his third straight title match of the year-ending tournament. Notably, he lost the 2015 final to Kento Momota but went on to win last year's final against Tian Houwei.
Axelsen starts as favourite?
The reigning world champion, who has grown by leaps and bounds in the recent past, should take confidence from his recent record against the Malaysian great. Despite losing nine of their 11 meetings so far, Axelsen has won the last two, including the most recent match at the Japan Open final.
With conditions in Dubai favouring attacking players, the two will be looking to outmatch each other when it comes to employing the smashes they are known for. However, Axelsen, with his variety and excellent reach, is likely to trouble Chong Wei.
Having won two Superseries titles and the world meet in Glasgow in 2017, Axelsen would want an icing on the cake. The Dane is also bidding to become the only second player after Chong Wei to retain the Superseries Finals title.
"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," Axelsen said after his win on Saturday.
Chong Wei eyes return to top
On the other hand, Chong Wei avenged his group-stage defeat to world number three Son Wan Ho in the all-important semi-final on Saturday. There was no stopping the 36-year-old as he crushed his South Korean opponent 21-17, 21-11.
Chong Wei has had an inconsistent year and his first-round defeat at the Glasgow world meet raised questions about the veteran's ability to continue competing at the highest level. However, a win on Sunday at the premier event will not just take him back to the number-one spot in BWF rankings, but also help silence his critics.
"I'll fight all out against Viktor too. If I win, I will be the No. 1 player in the world again. It'll be a great way to end the year," Chong Wei was quoted by The Star as saying.
When does the match start and how to watch it live
The men's singles final between Chong Wei and Axelsen will not start before 5 pm local time, 6:30 pm IST
Live streaming and TV coverage
India: TV: Star Sports 2. Live streaming: Hotstar
Malaysia: TV: Astro Supersport 4. Live streaming: Astro Go
Singapore: TV: Star Hub. Live streaming: Starhub Go
Live scores can be followed on BWF's official website.