PETALING JAYA: Watch out, Lee Zii Jia.
The All-England champion better get ready for a backlash from a wounded world No. 1 Kento Momota after the Japanese told his fans to expect him to come back stronger in the next tournament.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Momota is set to play in the Indian Open from May 11-16 where he would surely seek to avenge his defeat to Zii Jia in the quarter-finals of the All-England last month –- should they cross paths again.
Zii Jia won 21-16,21-19 to finally mark his maiden victory over Momota in seven meetings, dashing the latter’s hopes of a triumphant return to the international stage after a 14-month hiatus.
Japan head coach Park Joo-bong once revealed that Momota hates losing twice to the same opponent, and it has been proven true if history is anything to go by.
In 2019, Momota managed to exact revenge on four out of the six opponents whom he had a rematch with later on.
The four players were Denmark’s Anders Antonsen, Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting and Jonatan Christie, as well as China’s Huang Yuxiang.
And among them, the most ruthless payback was Momota’s resounding 21-9,21-3 win over Antonsen in the final of the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland – seven months after the latter pipped the former to the Indonesian Masters crown in January.
Momota also beat Jonatan and Anthony to the Japan Open and World Tour Finals titles in their following showdowns that year, after being eliminated at the Malaysian Open (second round) and French Open (quarter-finals) earlier.
As for Yuxiang, Momota responded to his Indonesian Open last-16 defeat in June 2019 by winning in the Malaysian Masters quarter-finals in January last year.
Momota, in a message to his fans via his official Youtube channel, said: “After losing, I saw many comments (from the fans) like ‘what happened to Momota?’
“To be honest, I’m glad that you (fans) think so. It’s nice to feel uncomfortable about losing. I want to be strong enough to make you think that I won’t lose.
“I still feel guilty that I am No. 1 in the world and suffered a defeat.
“I will take this defeat positively, and I hope I can show you that. I will come back stronger.”