(Reuters) - Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen became the first male player from Europe since Peter Rasmussen in 1997 to enter the final of the BWF World Championships while Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara ended Saina Nehwal’s campaign in Glasgow on Saturday.
Axelsen, a bronze medalist in the 2014 edition of the showpiece event in Copenhagen, knocked out China’s Chen Long 21-9 21-10 in 39 minutes for his second career victory over the defending champion.
Axelsen was surprised by the ease of his progress and the towering 23-year-old said his focus was sharp as he bids to emulate compatriot Rasmussen who won the title 20 years ago.
“I can’t believe I just beat Chen Long in straight games,” a bemused Axelsen said after the 39-minute match. “I’m so proud right now, but I’m not done yet. I have another match... I will start preparing.”
Nehwal, looking to improve on her second placed finish in the 2015 World Championships in Jakarta, saw her challenge fade after a strong opening game, as seventh seed Okuhara pulled away for a 12-21 21-17 21-10 win.
In the women’s final, world number 12 Okuhara, who felled defending champion Carolina Marin on Friday, meets either China’s world junior champion Chen Yufei or India’s Olympic silver medalist Pusarla Sindhu.
Standing in Axelsen’s way is China’s Lin Dan, who has uncharacteristically struggled in the initial rounds. He showed no mercy to top seed Son Wan-ho in their 58-minute semi-final though, with a trademark jump smash sealing the 21-17 21-14 win.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru