WORLD No 1 Viktor Axelsen etched his name into the Malaysia Open history books when he became only the third Dane, since the great Erland Kops and Peter Gade, to capture the men's singles title today.
Fresh from winning back-to-back titles — the Indonesia Masters and Indonesia Open last month — a ruthless Axelsen destroyed two-time world champion Kento Momota of Japan 21-4, 21-7 in just 34 minutes in front of a packed Axiata Arena.
The Malaysia Open title was surprisingly Axelsen's first Super 750 crown in the World Tour era, which started in 2018.
In the post-match interview, the reigning Olympic champion who is based in Dubai, said: "I was really surprised with the level I played today and the match in general.
"I was super tired yesterday but somehow I managed to find some extra energy.
"It's great to play Momota in another final. I respect him a lot as a player but today I played really well and maybe he didn't feel that comfortable. I was expecting a really tough match, but happy with how I played."
On how he felt to have finally won the Malaysia Open crown after having tried for a decade, the former world champion said: "It feels amazing because the Malaysia Open is a title you want to win. I played it down yesterday (Saturday) because I didn't want to pressure myself.
"It's a title that's very important to me and I'm happy to have won it already."
Axelsen, who is the first European men's singles player to win the Malaysia Open since compatriot Gade's triumph in 2007, refused to be compared with the latter.
"Peter Gade is Peter Gade. In his own right, he was an amazing player and all his achievements speak for itself.
"However, I wouldn't want to be compared to him because I am my own player and I have my own journey.
"Right now, I'm very happy with where I am," said Axelsen, who pocketed US$47,250 (RM208,000) for winning the Malaysia Open title.
Momota still had a smile on his face despite the heavy defeat. The 28-year-old, who looks a far cry from his prime, admitted he was nowhere near Axelsen, who ironically was his losing opponent in the final of the 2020 Malaysia Masters.
Momota, who has never looked the same player since a tragic accident two years ago after he won the Malaysia Masters, has vowed to use his experience this week to try and bounce back, not just for himself but for the local fans who continued to chant his name after his defeat yesterday.
"Viktor's level was higher than I expected. I thought I was getting better in this tournament, but it was a little too much for me today," he said.
"However, I will use the experience of playing in this big final for the upcoming tournaments," said Momota, who earlier admitted to reporters that he feels a lack of confidence when stepping on to the court these days.
In the Malaysia Masters this week, Momota will open his title defence against Danish shuttler Rasmus Gemke in the first round.
Men's singles: Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Kento Momota (Jpn) 21-4, 21-7
Women's singles: Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Chen Yu Fei (Chn) 21-15, 13-21, 21-16
Men's doubles: Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) bt Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto (Ina) 24-22, 16-21, 21-9
Women's doubles: Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Fadia Silvia Ramadhanti (Ina) bt Zhang Shu Xian-Zheng Yu (Chn) 21-18, 12-21, 21-19
Mixed doubles: Zheng Si Wei-Huang Ya Qiong (Chn) bt Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 21-13, 21-18.