The battle is on at the Dubai World Superseries Finals. All the top performing badminton players this year are competing at the 1 Million USD prize money tournament.
World Champion, World no 1 and defending champion Viktor Axelsen had a playoff against Chou Tien Chen (TPE) in the group stage. The player who wins this match goes into the semifinals tomorrow.
With high expectations on his shoulders, young Axelsen started out the match on a nervous node. After trailing 10-15 in the first game, Axelsen came back strongly to take the game 21-16. The second game slipped out of his hand after he lost his focus over an argument on whether the shuttlecock should be changed or not.
With everything riding on this match, both players came out guns blazing in the third game and gave everything they got. The score was 8-13 in favour of Axelsen, a crucial point of the game. Axelsen made a net kill and touched the net with his racket. It was a FAULT. However the umpire did not notice it and gave the point to Axelsen instead of his opponent. Chou Tien Chen was in shock with the utter injustice he was facing.
Then came the slow motion replay on the stadium giant screen. It clearly showed that the racket had hit the net and it was a clear fault. The umpire who initially said Axelsen did not touch the net, now changed her word saying that the shuttle had touched the ground before Axelsen touched the net. It was just bullocks. Chou Tien Chen shook his head in disbelief. The point was awarded to Axelsen. Score 8-14.
Then Axelsen, in a great show of sportsmanship, puts in a loose serve for his opponent. Chou Tien Chen returns it, Axelsen lets it hit the ground. As a lover of this sport, such an act is what I have been waiting for many years to see. While its frequently seen in sports such as tennis, its a rare phenomenon in badminton. Players trying to influence the line judge, time wasting, etc. has been spoiling the sport in the recent past. Here is the video below.
It is joy to think that many young players will be watching this praiseworthy act of Axelsen. He wanted to win the match fair and square. The example that he has set as role model today should be applauded by everybody. It also shows what a great player he can become in the future.
As for the chair umpire Liu Yun (China), I don’t think I have much to say. I could just laugh in disbelieve while I watched the match. Badminton is a very fast sport and sometimes difficult for the human eye to catch up. It must have been absolute nightmare for her. But wait! This is the same umpire who called a WRONG fault at the most crucial moment in the semifinal tie between Korea and Japan in the Sudirman Cup of 2015. That time it was 21 – 20, when she called a fault on Takuma Ueda of Japan for touching the net, when in fact the racket was nowhere near the net. She seems to have a blind spot near the net. Some umpires are good at their job, some are not. Only the best umpires should be there at such a major tournament. There is no blame on anyone.
The video clip where the umpire messed up in the semifinal of the Sudirman Cup 2015 is below