Jakarta: It was a strong start to the first round for Japan in the Asian Games men’s team event as the “Land of the Rising Sun” swept Malaysia, the country once a badminton powerhouse but is on the path of sun setting, 3-0 to advance to the quarter-finals.
Reigning World Champion Kento Momota who spearheaded Japan’s first men’s singles challenge, secured the first point by beating World No. 27 Daren Liew 21-13, 21-14 at Istora Senayan stadium on Sunday.
“Daren was aggressive today, but fortunately my defense was good enough to counter his attacks,” said Momota.
“Drift inside the stadium made it hard to control the shuttlecocks, but, I’ve learn to handle that from playing at the Indonesia Open last month,” added Momota.
Momota defeated World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen 21-14, 21-9 in the final to win this year’s Indonesia Open.
A solid run from World No. 3 Japanese men’s doubles pair Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda saw them fended off challenges by Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong 21-18, 21-18 to clinch the second point for Japan.
Malaysia’s World No. 53 Lee Zii Jia put up strong challenge against World No. 10 Kento Nishimoto, but Nishimoto’s athleticism helped him closed out the match 21-18, 21-17 and sealed the tie 3-0 for Japan.
The defeat was the worst record of the Malaysian team in the Asian Games since 1986, where the Malaysians were at least able to advance to the final eight in each edition until this year.
Japan will play defending champions Korea in the quarter-finals. Korea defeated Thailand 3-1 to enter the last eight.