Tokyo: World No. 1 men’s singles player Kento Momota After made a successful comeback in the first round of All-Japan Championships when he defeated a second-year high school student Moriguchi Koshiro 21-12, 21-14 in 36 minutes on Wednesday.
This was Momota’s first official match since Jan 13, 2020, after surviving a fatal car crash where the driver of Momota’s shuttle was killed on the spot. Momota suffered bruises all over his body and was later diagnosed with a fractured right eye socket where he was seeing double vision on the court. He then underwent surgery in February to repair his broken eye socket and has successfully recovered from the injuries since.
The 26-year-old hoped this was the step in the right direction of winning gold at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
“I enjoyed being back onto the court, I can feel that I am on my way back to competition,” said Momota.
Momota got off to a slow start in the first game after winning the first 5 points, before misjudging several baseline shots from Koshiro. However, Momota was clearly in the league of his own by wrapping up the first game 21-12.
“I had the butterflies and I couldn’t capitalize on a lot of good opportunities, but overall, I felt good on my strokes,” added Momota.
The World No. 1 managed to speed up his tempo in the second set and completed the game with a resounding smash.
“I’ve been through a lot in the last 11 months, and I want to thank everyone who supported me,” said Momota after the match.
“I just need to be more confident and believe in myself when I am on the court.”
“Frankly, I typically get truly unsettled in the first round of the All Japans. Also, today was my first official match in some time so I was uncomfortable”, explained Momota.
“I want to win the title here. However, I’m going to just take it one game at a time.”
He is set to take on Hatano Riku in the second round on Thursday.