Momota shows class en route to beating Axelsen in men’s singles final

Master of masters: Japan’s Kento Momota celebrating after beating Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen in the Malaysian Masters final at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil. Momota won 24-22, 21-11. Inset: Lee Zii Jia. — S.S. KANESAN /The Star

JAPAN’S Kento Momota claimed himself “unfit” after powering his way to the Perodua Malaysian Masters victory.

Despite not being at his physical best, the 25-year-old Japanese ace pulled off a good show to beat world No. 5 Viktor Axelsen 24-22,21-11 in the men’s singles final of the season opener at the Axiata Arena.

That’s just how good the world No. 1 is.

Momota was in his element as he extended his head-to-head record over the Dane to a whopping 14-1 after notching an astonishing 13 straight wins dating back to 2014.

Axelsen, the 2017 world champion in Momota’s absence, looked as if he could salvage his pride when he stormed to 7-1 lead and held three match points in the opening game but he failed to capitalise on the advantages.

Momota sealed the first game victory and turned the second game into a lopsided affair.

Catch it if you can: South Korean men’s doubles player Lee Yong-dae throwing his racquet to the crowd after he and partner Kim Gi-jung beat Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China in the final yesterday.Catch it if you can: South Korean men’s doubles player Lee Yong-dae throwing his racquet to the crowd after he and partner Kim Gi-jung beat Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China in the final yesterday.

Momota was absolutely delighted to make up for last year’s first round disappointment when the top seed was booted out by compatriot Kenta Nishimoto.

“I wanted to win it badly after what happened last year, I’m glad that I won it this time, ” said Momota.

Momota had stated prior to the tournament that he wasn’t in his best condition after a hectic 2019 schedule, which culminated with a back-to-back World Tour Finals and All-Japan National Championships.

In fact, he had already withdrawn from the Indonesian Masters starting tomorrow.

Asked how he could still stand head and shoulders above the rest of his competitors, Momota said: “I may not be in my perfect condition, but I’m still sharp and brought in the confidence from my World Tour Finals victory.

“All I was focusing on was on my attack and defence. I don’t dwell on the points I lose to my opponents. That’s what I did.”

Axelsen was lost for words on his latest defeat to Momota.

“It’s pretty frustrating, ” said Axelsen.

“He played so well. I tried my best but it still wasn’t enough.

“You have to be stable all round, otherwise it’s going to be tough to beat him.”

Momota pocketed US$30,000 (RM122,000) while Axelsen took home US$15,200 (RM62,000).


Men’s singles: Kento Momota (Jpn) bt Viktor Axelsen (Den) 24-22,21-11.

Men’s doubles: Kim Gi-jung-Lee Yong-dae (Kor) bt Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen (Chn) 21-14,21-16.

Women’s singles: Chen Yufei (Chn) bt Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) 21-17,21-10.

Women’s doubles: Li Wenmei-Zheng Yu (Chn) bt Du Yue-Li Yinhui (Chn) 21-19,16-21,21-19.

Mixed doubles: Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (Chn) bt Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping (Chn) 21-19,21-12.

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