Double joy for Japan as Kento Momota and Akane Yamaguchi won the Japan Open

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Kento Momota is establishing himself as badminton's best men's singles player post Lee Chong Wei-Lin Dan era. (photo: Xinhua)
Kento Momota is establishing himself as badminton's best men's singles player post Lee Chong Wei-Lin Dan era. (photo: Xinhua)

Tokyo: World No. 1 Kento Momota and World No. 2 Akane Yamaguchi claimed the respective Japan Open men’s and women’s singles titles as action concluded Sunday at the Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in Tokyo.

Playing in front of the roaring home crowd, Momota was in full control in the first set by winning 21-16 against Jonatan Christie of Indonesia. The Japanese player was perfect in shots, tempo and footwork to tame World No. 6 from Indonesia 21-13 in the second, successfully defended the Japan Open title he won last year.

Kento Momota poses for pictures at the awards ceremony. (photo: Xinhua)
Kento Momota poses for pictures at the awards ceremony. (photo: Xinhua)

“I wasn’t not confident of winning the Japan Open since I didn’t do well at Indonesia Open last week,” said Momota who lost to Huang Yuxiang of China in second round of the Super 1000 event in Jakarta last Thursday.

“But thanks for the support from all of the fans, it really gave me motivation to work hard by winning this tournament,” added Momota.

Japan also had success in the women’s singles when Akane Yamaguchi overcame compatriot World No. 3 Nozomi Okuhara 21-13, 21-15 in the final.

That victory would also give Yamaguchi sufficient ranking points to overtake Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan to become the new World No. 1 women’s singles player in the BWF ranking that will be released next week. Tai first reached World No. 1 on December 1, 2016, and she has since stayed at the top of the world for 137 consecutive weeks.

This was also Yamaguchi’s second consecutive title in two weeks following last week’s Indonesia Open, and also her second Japan Open title in six years.

“It feels great as I’ve never won two weeks in a row,” said Yamaguchi.

“I was a little worried when we engaged in some long rallies. Fortunately, I was able to regain control and to play with perseverance,” added the 22-year-old.

South Korea’s unseeded women’s doubles pair Kim So Yeong/Kong Hee Yong came into the tournament on a great run and ended the tournament with an even greater height as they put on a high-quality performance to beat No. 1 seeds Wakana Nagahara/Mayu Matsumoto of Japan 21-12, 21-12.

For the second final in two weeks against the same opponents, last week’s Indonesia Open men’s doubles Champions No. 1 seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia kept their pressure on No. 4 seeds and the 2013 champions Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan to win 21-18, 23-21. This was also Gideon/Sukamuljo’s third consecutive Japan Open title since 2017.

Meanwhile, mixed doubles No. 2 seeds Wang Yi Lyu/Huang Dong Ping of China saw off No. 7 seeds Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti of Indonesia 21-17, 21-16 to win their second Japan Open title. The pair first won the title in 2017.

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