Paris: The World No. 1 men’s singles player – Kento Momota of Japan who retired from the 2021 French Open semi-final when playing against teammate World No. 13 Kanta Tsuneyama last Saturday, issued an apology on his Instagram after the match, saying that he was forced to pull out of the tournament after sustaining an injury to his back at the end of the first game.
He was the heavy favorite to win French Open after the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Viktor Axelsen pulled out of the tournament in the first round.
In the semi-final, he fought tooth and nail with Tsuneyama in the first game, saved five game-point to seal the game 26-24 in 41 minutes.
Momota started to feel uncomfortable early in the second game and called for a medical timeout when he was trailing 3-6. The tournament referee then entered the court to advise Momota that if he decided to withdraw against his teammate, he would lose all ranking points accumulated for the entire 2021 French Open.
Regulation 4.4 of the World Ranking System Appendix to the BWF Statutes, Section 184.108.40.206 stated that:
4.4 In the World Championships, Grade 2 – Levels 2-4 tournaments, and Continental Confederation Individual Championships/Continental Multi Sports Games Individual Championships, if a Player / pair withdraws or retires from a match played against a Player / pair from the same Member they will not receive World Ranking points for that tournament.
Not sure if the reigning world champion understood 100% what the tournament referee said, he decided to keep playing but lost the second game to Tsuneyama 11-21.
Immediately after the second game, the men’s singles coach from the Japanese team came to Momota explaining the consequences of withdrawing, and they seemed to reach an agreement that it’s best for Momota to pull out of the tournament due to the injury.
A few hours later, Momota took to his social media platform to post the following message for his fans:
“Although my body is very tired, but my heart is still very energetic, I am fine, and please don’t worry about me. I really don’t want to give up halfway, but because of my back injury, I am very sorry for those who supported me!”
According to Badminton Statistics, the top three players who played the most minutes in both the Thomas Cup and Denmark Open (Jonatan Christie: 485 minutes, Viktor Axelsen: 429 minutes, Kento Momota: 377 minutes) all ended up either withdrawing or retiring from the tournament due to fatigue or injury.