Guangzhou: World No. 1 men’s singles player Kento Momota of Japan got his 2018 BWF World Tour Finals off to a brilliant start as he fended off World No. 14 Sameer Verma of India 21-18, 21-6 in just 35 minutes.
The 24-year-old, viewed by many as a potential successor to badminton’s four-heavenly Kings who have dominated men’s badminton for the last two decades, will meet World No. 17 Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand in his second Group B match on Thursday.
Wangcharoen put up a strong fight, unfortunately, he lost to Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 18-21, 21-18, 11-21 in a hard-fought opener that lasted 89 minutes.
Momentum was definitely on World No. 1 women’s singles Tai Tzu Ying’s side as she breezed past Zhang Beiwen of USA 21-15, 21-17 in her first Group A match. Tai will play PV Sindhu of India on Thursday.
World No. 6 Sindhu, on the other hand, pulled off a huge upset to see off World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan 24-22, 21-15.
In mixed doubles, Malaysia’s interest in the 2018 World Tour Finals was off to a bad start after two mixed doubles pairs were beaten by their respective opponents in the first group match respectively.
Fielded as the third/fourth seeds, Chan Peng Soon/Goh Liu Ying were thought to be in a comfortable position in group B because, based on the records, Chan/Goh were still unbeaten against their three rivals in Group B. However, they lost to Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping of China for the first time in their career on Wednesday, going down 20-22, 13-21. Chan/Goh still have a chance to redeem themselves in their next two matches. If they can beat Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja of Indonesia on Thursday and then Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino of Japan, they still could advance to the knock out stage.
Also in trouble was another Malaysian mixed doubles pair Goh Soon Huat/Shevon Jemie Lai as they were sent packing by Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand 19-21, 10-21.
Goh/Lai will be up against world No. 1 Zhen Siwei/Huang Yaqiong on Thursday.