Tough Malaysia Open draw for Kento Momota, Easier Half for Lee Zii Jia

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Kento Momota needs to arrive in Malaysia next week if he wants to compete at the Malaysia Open. (photo: AFP)
Kento Momota needs to arrive in Malaysia next week if he wants to compete at the Malaysia Open. (photo: AFP)

Kuala Lumpur: World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan to begin his 2021 Malaysia Open challenge against World No. 14 Kidambi Srikanth of India while reigning women’s champion Tai Tzu Ying from Taiwan will play World No. 11 Michelle Li of Canada after the draw for the BWF World Tour Super 750 event was released on Monday.

The projected quarter-finals match-up put Momota against a tricky opponent, World No. 5 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia. Both have battled each other 7 times since 2019, and 4 out of the 7 matches were stretched to rubber-game.

World No. 1 Momota, however, could be tested in the semi-finals by either World No. 4 Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan or World No. 7 Jonatan Christie of Indonesia.

Meanwhile, the reigning All England champion, Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia is set to start his Malaysia Open campaign against compatriot Daren Liew. Lee could play a repeat of this year’s All England final against Viktor Axelsen in the semi-finals if Axelsen who was tested for COVID-19 positive last weekend could make the competition.

Lee will potentially need to beat 2015 champion Chen Long of China, World No. 3 Anders Antonsen of Denmark, or World No. 11 Shi Yuqi of China to make the final.

In men’s doubles, Malaysian pairs got no favors from the draw. World No. 9 Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik will start against World No. 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia, and World No. 13 Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong will meet World No. 7 Fajar Alfian/Muhammad Rian Ardianto also from Indonesia. Another Malaysian men’s pair, World No. 15 Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi was drawn to battle World No. 2 Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan in the first round.

Meanwhile, the four-time Malaysia Open women’s singles champion and top-ranked, Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan could meet World No. 7 PV Sindhu of India in the quarter-finals and Carolina Marin of Spain in the semi-finals.

Since Malaysia has banned the entry of travelers from India to curb the COVID-19 spread, it’s unclear if Indian players could make the competition. In addition, even though Carolina Marin was included in the draw, she might choose to play at the Spain Masters that will be held in her hometown, Huelva, from May 18 to May 23.

The Malaysian government required a 14-day mandatory quarantine for foreigners from 40 countries including top badminton nations like Denmark, Japan, and China. Therefore, players such as Viktor Axelsen who already been diagnosed with COVID-19, Kento Momota, and Carolina Marin would need to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at the latest on May 11th if they wanted to compete at the tournament that will be held from May 25 to May 30.

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