Kento Momota regains Japan’s national championship

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Kento Momota drops to his knees as he celebrates victory over Kenta Nishimoto in the Japan national championship final. (photo: Kyodo)
Kento Momota drops to his knees as he celebrates victory over Kenta Nishimoto in the Japan national championship final. (photo: Kyodo)

Tokyo: The 24-year-old World No. 1 men’s singles player – Kento Momota, won his second Japan badminton national championship on Sunday, defeating World No. 9 Kenta Nishimoto in the final at Tokyo’s Komazawa Gymnasium.

Momota got off to a strong start in the first game, mixing his strong smashes with trick net shots to take the first set 21-9.

Kento Momota holds the huge trophy after winning his second Japan national title. (photo: Kyodo)
Kento Momota holds the huge trophy after winning his second Japan national title. (photo: Kyodo)

However, he couldn’t keep up with Nishimoto at the end of second set to go down with 18-21.

Momota was forced to dig deep in the third set to keep Nishimoto at bay and eventually prevail after a dominant 21-11 display in the decider.

“Everyone wants to take the title, including me,” said Momota after the match.

The reigning world champion who won the title in 2015, but was suspended after he admitted gambling in illegal casino in Japan. The suspension was lifted in mid of 2017 and the Japanese badminton star immediately made heads turn when he became the first Japanese men’s singles player to win the World Championships title this August.

“This was a tournament that I must win because I would like to honor the victory to people who have been supporting along the way, including the company that has been sponsoring me (NTT East),” said Momota.

In women’s singles final, World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi defended the title by beating World No. 5 Nozomi Okuhara 21-16, 17-21, 21-11.

“Okuhara and I have played each other many times at international tournaments, but we rarely play against each other in Japan. I am glad I was able to win in today’s final,” said Yamaguchi.

Meanwhile, World No. 1 Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota outlasted the Rio Olympic gold medalists Ayaka Takahashi/Misaki Matsutomo in straight-sets to win the women’s doubles title.

The men’s doubles title went to Keigo Sonoda/Takeshi Kamura while the 2018 All England champions Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino were able to defend their mixed doubles title.

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