Denmark's Axelsen and Chinese Taipei's Tai win the 2020 All-England Badminton Championships.
Viktor Axelsen is All-England champion for the first time.
A straight sets 21-13, 21-14 victory over Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien-Chen at Arena Birmingham on Sunday makes Axelsen the first European champion in 21 years.
And Tai Tzu Ying is the women's champion for the third time in four years, defeating China's Chen Yu Fei 21-19, 21-15.
Axelsen had to settle for second last year, beaten in the final by current World No.1 Momota Kento, who continues his recovery after a road accident, but this time he seized the opportunity.
The World No.7 went on the attack from the start and never let Chou settle.
"It's a dream coming true, every badminton player dreams about winning All-England"
Denmark's Rio 2016 bronze medallist is returning to optimum shape after a difficult year. And he believes his Olympic experience stands him in good stead for the challenge ahead.
Axelsen seizes moment in absence of Momota
The Danish shuttler almost didn't make it to the final after dropping the first set in the semi-final to Malaysian World No.13 Lee Zii Jia 17-21.
But the 26-year-old hit back to win 17-21, 21-13, 21-19.
In the final he allowed himself no such lapse, taking the game to Chou, blazing into a 12-7 lead before taking the first set 21-13.
The second followed a similar pattern, almost a carbon copy as Axelsen closed it out 21-14.
The title puts him in exalted company alongside Danish shuttle giants Peter Gade, Morten Frost, and Erland Kops.
Gade was the last European to win the title back in 1999, 21 years later Axelsen held it aloft, proving once more that he is a serious contender for the gold medal at Tokyo 2020.
"A lot of legendary names on this one," the new champ said cradling the trophy close, "it is a dream come true."
"Right now I can say that I am the All England winner 2020. It sounds pretty good in my ears. I am so happy right now."
Axelsen "proud of performance"
In a virtuoso display of aggressive, attacking badminton, it was hardly any surprise that Axelsen was proud of his performance:
"I think I managed to play really well today. In these finals it comes down to whether you can control your emotions and stick to the game plan. I managed to do that today and I am so happy about that."
Now being mentioned in the same sentence as Gade, Frost, and Kops, the imposing Dane was delighted:
"Looking at the legendary Danish men’s singles players that have been doing well here, putting my name on this trophy is a big achievement."
Want to see the Wolverine take on an Olympian?
"I do not know really what to say other than right now I have to enjoy this win. I am really happy and proud about my performance this week."
Axelsen's rival and 2019 Indonesia Open champion Chou said he has work to do after the final:
"It was difficult for me as he is really fast and was able to control me, so I need to work harder after this final, as this is the only way I can improve."
"He was better than me, but I will prepare more because I want to win a title here."
Tai Tzu Ying wins women's title
Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu Ying emerged victorious from a thrilling women's final, overcoming defending champion Chen Yufei from China 21-19, 21-15.
It was Tai's third All England title in four years, eliminating Olympic champion Carolina Marin in the semi-final along the way.
The women's final was a contest between World No.1 Chen and World No.2 Tai, and was characterised by brilliant attacking play from Tai and superb defensive skills from Chen.
In the end the Chinese shuttler couldn't hold back the relentless offence of Tai, who just edged a tight first set 21-19, just a single point separated the two for most of the 1st.
Tai finally found a way to break down Chen's defensive resistance, and didn't let up.
The second set looked like it was going to be just as tight until Tai found a foothold and took it by 6 points, 21-15.
Chen Yufei's loss in the final means that China has failed to win an All England title for the first time since 1995.
Chinese badminton star was inspired by watching her first game during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. She's come a long way since, and now has her eyes firmly focussed on Tokyo 2020 gold.
By the Olympic Channel.