DUBAI • Both world singles champions, Chen Long and Carolina Marin, lost in straight games yesterday when the 2015 form-book was torn up in badminton's Super Series finals in Dubai.
Chen, who had won seven Super Series tournaments this year, was beaten for the first time by Viktor Axelsen, the fast improving world No. 6 from Denmark, 21-12, 21-17.
Marin, who had clinched five major titles in her finest-ever year, lost 11-21, 12-21 to Nozomi Okuhara of Japan. The result was a little less surprising because it was the second time in 24 hours that it happened.
The conditions in Dubai are slow and Marin's attacking game was unable to make much impact against a superbly mobile opponent.
It suited Okuhara so much she may start today's final with an even chance of taking her first major crown.
She takes on China's Wang Yihan, who overcame Thailand's former world champion Ratchanok Intanon 21-12, 21-12 in the other semi-final.
Chen was by his standards sluggish and error-prone.
He also allowed himself to be tied up at the net quite a lot by the canny Axelsen, who knew this was the best way of frustrating his tall opponent's long reach in defence and counter-attacks.
"I didn't play so well today," Chen admitted. "I didn't have good fortune and my opponent played better than I did."
Axelsen, after his first win over Chen and by far the biggest of his career, ran around in small circles and later acknowledged that he was "overwhelmed".
Axelsen will play Kento Momota, the Thomas Cup hero from Japan, who beat his fellow Dane Jan Jorgensen 21-19, 21-18.
Earlier, Chris and Gabby Adcock, the husband and wife team from England, who seem to take adversity in their stride, achieved arguably their finest performance together when they reached the final of the mixed doubles.
They did that with a 21-17, 22-20 win over Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto of Indonesia.
The Adcocks were behind for much of the first game and faced trouble again when their four-point second game lead evaporated into a 16-17 deficit.
They will today face Ko Sung Hyun and Kim Ha Na, the world's sixth-ranked pair from South Korea who beat Hong Kong's Lee Chun Hei and Chau Hoi Wah 21-15, 20-22, 21-12 , in the final.
WORLD SUPERSERIES FINALS, DUBAI
Finals: StarHub Ch201, 5pm