Shuttler Lee Cheuk-yiu stormed into his first level 1,000 tournament semi-final after defeating Chou Tien-Chen of Taiwan and will meet Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen of the hosts. In a gruelling 78-minute battle, the 2019 Hong Kong Open champion emerged the eventual winner over the fourth seed Chou following a 21-16, 19-21, 21-19 victory in the US$850,000 tournament. “I feel so happy as this is my first time of reaching a Super 1000 tournament semi-final,” said unseeded Lee after the match. “It was an exhausting tie as I also played my senior Ng Ka-long the previous round of three games over an hour. My body feels so tired now.” After one game apiece, Lee looked likely the winner as he was leading 18-13 in the rubber, but then the fourth seeded Taiwanese fought back fiercely, taking five points in a row to revitalise his chances. “I was leading by five or six points in the third game but then was too eager to win,” said the 25-year-old right hander, who also beat Chou when they last met at the Indonesia Masters in early 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the win in Indonesia, Lee was still 2-1 behind in the head-to-head record. Ng dumped out of Denmark Open by Hong Kong teammate Lee “But fortunately I was able to hang in there and there was a bit luck as I took the next two points to reach match point before wrapping up the tough battle.” Facing home favourite and second seed Axelsen for a place in final, Lee hoped he could continue his from the last time that they met. He beat the Dane on his way to winning the 2019 Hong Kong Open at the Hung Hom Coliseum. “He is a quality player, the reigning Olympic champion and it will be a great match to take on him in front of his home crowd,” said Lee. Axelsen, the second seed, also had a tough campaign against Lee Zii-Jia of Malaysia as he won both games 21-19 in front of a passionate home crowd. The Olympic men’s singles champion praised the performance of the unseeded Hong Kong player and expected another tough fight after struggling to beat the Malaysian. “He has done very well right and it will not be easy at all as it’s a semi-final,” Axelsen said. “Right now I will not think too much about it, just relax a little bit, get something to eat to keep the feat up and get ready for tomorrow.” Axelsen thanks ‘inspiration’ Chen after beating him to badminton gold The other semi-final will feature top seed Kento Momota of Japan and Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia. In the mixed doubles quarter-finals, Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet of Hong Kong suffered a successive defeat under the hands of Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping of China when they lost in a quick fire 21-14, 21-17 match. The mainland duo also beat Tang and Tse in the group stage at the Tokyo Olympics when the pairs last met.