“Everyone has studied my game, and sometimes even when I play well, things don’t work out. That’s the difficulty I faced this year.”
Japan’s Kento Momota feels the pressure of being ranked no. 1 in the world, but for all the worry, he’s hardly shown it this season, and won his fourth BWF World Tour tournament before his home fans with a 21-16, 21-13 straight-set victory over Indonesia’s seventh-ranked Jonathan Christie at the Japan Open in Tokyo.
“I wasn’t in form, and that made me nervous, coming into the Japan Open,” said Momota, whose last win was in April. “Winning under these conditions is something different from last year. After my [second-round] loss in Indonesia, I came with the mindset to win in Japan. I haven’t done well at other tournaments, but I was determined not to lose here at my home event.”
He didn’t and will continue at no. 1 in the BWF World Rankings. He will be joined by countrywoman Akane Yamaguchi at no. 1, following the latter’s 21-13, 21-15 win over fellow Japanese star Nozomi Okuhara, 21-13, 21-15.
“I was worried I wouldn’t be able to win the long rallies, but I was patient, and whenever there was a chance to make a decisive shot, I was able to make the sharp shots,” said the winner.
It’s the second Japan Open title for Yamaguchi, who also won in 2013, and with the victory, will ascend to the top spot in the world rankings. For Japanese fans, it’s a hopeful sign ahead of the 2020 Olympic Games; the Japan Open served as the test event.
In the men’s Doubles, Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA) confirmed their no. 1 world ranking with their third straight Japan Open title over countrymen Mohamad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan. A third title was also won by China’s no. 2-ranked Yi Lyu Wang and Dongping Huang, who had previously triumphed in 2016 and 2018. Summaries:
BWF World Tour/Japan Open
Tokyo (JPN) ~ 23-28 July 2019
(Full results here)
Men/Singles: 1. Kento Momota (JPN); 2. Jonatan Christie (INA); 3. Jan O. Jorgensen (DEN) and B. Sai Praneeth (IND). Semis: Christie d. Jorgensen, 21-14, 21-14; Momota d. Praneeth, 21-18, 21-12. Final: Momota d. Christie, 21-16, 21-13.
Men/Doubles: 1. Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA); 2. Mohamad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan (INA); 3. Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda (JPN) and Junhui Li/Yuchen Liu (CHN). Semis: Ahsan/Setiawan d. Kamura/Sonoda, 22-20, 21-10; Gideon/Sukamuljo d. Li/Liu, 16-21, 21-11, 21-18. Final: Gideon/Sukamuljo d. Ahsan/Setiawan, 21-18, 23-21.
Women/Singles: 1. Akane Yamaguchi (JPN); 2. Nozomi Okuhara (JPN); 3. Michelle Li (CAN) and Yufei Chen (CHN). Semis: Okuhara d. Li, 21-12, 21-18; Yamaguchi d. Chen, 21-15, 21-15. Final: Yamaguchi d. Okuhara, 21-13, 21-15.
Women/Doubles: 1. So Yeong Kim/Hee Yon Kong (KOR); 2. Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara (JPN); 3. Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi (JPN) and Wenmei Li/Yu Zheng (CHN). Semis: Matsumoto/Nagahara d. Matsutomo/Takahashi, 21-16, 21-19; Kim/Long d. Li/Zheng, 21-16, 21-11. Final: Kim/Kong d. Matsumoto/Nagahara, 21-12, 21-12.
Mixed Doubles: 1. Yi Lyu Wang/Dongping Huang (CHN); 2. Praveen Jordan/Melati Daeva Oktavianti (INA); 3. Peng Soon Chan/Liu Ying Goh (MAS) and Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja (INA). Semis: Wang/Huang d. Chan/Goh, 21-10, 21-6; Jordan/Oktaviati d. Faizal/Widjaya, 21-15, 21-18. Final: Wang/Huang d. Jordan/Oktavianti, 21-17, 21-16.