Aarhus: The men’s singles World No. 1 Kento Momota of Japan and World No. 8 Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia have been playing against each other three times in the last two and a half weeks, and both produced a breathless exhibition of aggression to kick off the 2020 Thomas Cup last Group D tie on Thursday.
Lee took the first game 21-15 in 23 minutes and Momota needed only 20 minutes to seal the second game 21-12 to send the match into the decider.
The third set played out as a high-intensity seesaw battle as the score was tied 11 times, and Momota managed to save two match points when trailing 18-20, and when on to win the third set with 23-21 when the Japanese scored the match point by smashing towards Lee’s backhand, the shuttlecock touched the top of the net and rolled over into Lee’s side.
“Right now, I play every match as if I am starting from scratch,” said Momota after the match.
“Today, I played patiently, and I was fortunate to win the match,” added Momota.
In the men’s doubles match that followed, after losing to Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi of Japan at the 2021 Sudirman Cup semi-finals, Malaysia’s Tokyo Olympic bronze medalists Aaron Chia/Soh Wooi Yik went down to the Japanese pair again with 13-21, 13-21.
“Our opponents have started analyzing our games, we’ll need to figure out a better way to win our matches in the future,” said Chia.
Japan’s World No. 13 Kanta Tsuneyama clinched the tie for Japan by seeing off World No. 70 Cheam June Wei 22-20, 21-13.
The Japanese scratch pair – Akira Koga/Yuta Watanabe dominated the second men’s doubles match with their power and precision to down World No. 26 Goh Sze Fei/Nur Izzuddin of Malaysia 21-10, 21-16.
Malaysia avoided a clean sweep by Japan when World No. 120 Leong Jun Hao played with a faster pace and with exceptionally net shots, beating Japan’s World No. 16 Kenta Nishimoto 21-19, 21-18 to conclude the tie with 1-4 against the Japanese team.
Malaysia is set to face the 13-time winners, Indonesia, in the quarter-finals on Friday.
Below is the day six result of the 2020 Thomas and Uber Cup finals:
2020 Thomas Cup Results (October 14, 2021):
Thomas Cup – Group C, China vs. India 4-1
Thomas Cup – Group D, Japan vs. Malaysia 4-1
2020 Uber Cup Results (October 14, 2021):
Uber Cup, Japan vs. India 3-0
Uber Cup, Korea vs. Denmark 3-0
Uber Cup, Indonesia vs. Thailand 2-3
Uber Cup, Chinese Taipei vs. China 0-3