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Sunday August 14, 2022

Momota into Malaysia Open final

By AFP
July 03, 2022

KUALA LUMPUR: Japan’s Kento Momota expressed delight Saturday at reaching his first final of the year after enduring “difficult times”, following a convincing victory at the Malaysia Open over Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

It was a major boost for the once undisputed king of badminton after a recent run of poor form, and came in the country where a car crash over two years ago sent his career into free fall.

Momota received a rapturous reception from spectators for his semi-final in Kuala Lumpur, and wasted no time imposing himself on Kunlavut, who struggled to match his quality play.

He needed only 42 minutes to beat the Thai player 21-11, 21-12, delivering accurate smashes coupled with precise net play.

He will face world number one Viktor Axelsen of Denmark or Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie in the final on Sunday, with the pair set to complete their semi-final later Saturday.

“I just tried not to make any mistakes and move the shuttle as much as possible into the opponent’s side,” said Momota after his win.

“I’m so happy to reach this final after enduring so many difficult times.

I will try my best for the people who have supported me throughout.”

Momota was involved in a car accident in Malaysia in January 2020, when the vehicle taking him to Kuala Lumpur airport following his victory in a tournament crashed.

It left him with a fractured eye socket and, after a year out of action, he was a shadow of his former self when he returned.

Momota flopped at the Tokyo Olympics and lost in the first round at four of the five singles tournaments he has entered this year.

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