Kento Momota Saves 4 Match Points To Enter Japan Masters Second Round

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Wish Kento Momota the best of luck in the 2023 Japan Masters second round. (photo: Shi Tang/Getty Imges)
Wish Kento Momota the best of luck in the 2023 Japan Masters second round. (photo: Shi Tang/Getty Imges)

Kumamoto: The 29-year-old Japanese former two-time badminton world champion Kento Momota defeated 2021 world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore in the Japan Masters first round on Wednesday by saving 4 match points in the second game and extending the match to the decider.

Highlights of Kento Momota vs. Loh Kean Yew in the 2023 Japan Masters first round:

In the first game, Loh Kean Yew scored 4 points in a row to widen the gap after 11-10. Although Momota tried to catch up, he still fell short by losing 18-21.

However, Momota recovered in the second game and was leading by 6 points at one point. Nevertheless, Loh Kean Yew was by no means wanted to give up the match. Loh reached the match point at 20-19, 22-21, 23-22, and 24-23, but Momota showed his resilience to fight back and finally took the second match 26-24 to force a decider.

The third game was a nail-biter, with Momota leading 16-9 at one point. However, Loh Kean Yew refused to give up and staged a remarkable comeback, going on a 10-3 run to level the score at 19-19.
With the match on the line, Momota produced a moment of magic, hitting a lucky net shot that Loh Kean Yew couldn’t return. Momota collapsed to the floor in disbelief, having secured a hard-fought victory with a final score of 21-19.

When speaking to Japanese media “BADMINTON SPIRIT” after the match, Momota said that now he could finally enjoy the game again.

Kento Momota, who once topped the BWF world rankings and swept 11 BWF World Tour titles in 2019, has hit a low point in his career after the car accident in Jan of 2020. He made a successful comeback at the Korea Masters last week and he is riding on this momentum, came to the Japan Masters and passed two qualifying rounds in a row, and now defeated the powerful enemy Loh Kean Yew, ranked 9th in the world.

Momota, ranked 41st in the world, pointed out after the game that he was very decisive at critical moments in the decider and was the key to the final victory. This hard-fought win serves as a testament to his resilience and also as a blessing for him as “I am still able to compete tomorrow.”

Momota was eliminated in the first round of the BWF World Tour tournaments eight times this season. His Japan Masters second-round opponent will be Danish player Rasmus Gemke, ranked 28th in the world. The two have met 7 times in their careers, with Momota winning 5 times. Recently, Momota has lost 2 games in a row to Gemke.

Japanese media noted the renewed joy that Momota displayed on the court. Momota openly admitted that his previous injuries had hindered his ability to perform at his peak level. However, he expressed his newfound ability to move with greater speed and effectively counter his opponents’ strategies. “I am very happy now,” Momota declared with a sense of relief and contentment.

“BADMINTON SPIRIT” also asked Momota that there were many children in the stadium on Wednesday to watch his match, and what he hoped to bring to these young spectators, Momota responded, “Now I am treating myself as a shuttlecock, just keep playing hard. Unlike other foreign players, I don’t have powerful and amazing smashes or excellent control skills, but I want everyone to see that I am putting pressure on my opponents tenaciously and go into battle with strong determination.”

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