SHANGHAI (AFP) - Kento Momota won his 10th title of a remarkable year as Japan's world No. 1 defeated Chou Tien-chen to retain his Fuzhou China Open crown on Sunday (Nov 10).
Home hope Chen Yufei similarly successfully defended the women's title with a gritty victory over Japan's Nozomi Okuhara.
Reigning two-time world champion Momota battled past Taiwan's world No. 2 Chou 21-15, 17-21, 21-18 in a repeat of last year's final.
The 29-year-old Chou is in the unusual position of not having a coach and instead relies on his longtime physio to guide him courtside during matches.
Chou saved one match point but handed Momota the title by hitting into the net. The Japanese player fell onto his back and screamed in celebration, his fists clenched.
Momota lost the final of the Indonesian Masters in January to Denmark’s Anders Antonsen and said that defeat sparked his incredible run of titles.
“I was in form in Indonesia and I was very disappointed when I lost,” said the 25-year-old, whose haul in 2019 includes another world crown and the prestigious All England Open.
“I used that as motivation to work harder. I didn’t want to lose another final so I’ve put in a lot of effort.” The women’s final was a similarly gruelling affair and likewise went to three games.
The peerless Momota, 25, has had another hugely successful year, his haul of titles in 2019 including another world crown and the prestigious All England Open.
He will make his Olympic debut next year at the Tokyo 2020 Games and is the favourite to claim the gold medal.
He had missed the 2016 Rio Games after accepting a one-year ban from international competition in April of that year for regularly visiting an illegal casino in Tokyo.
In a recent interview with Tokyo Weekender where he was asked who he considers to be his biggest rival, Momota said matter-of-factly: "Myself. I can only become stronger by overcoming my own weaknesses.
"I need to work harder so I can give back to those people who've supported me. I hope to qualify for the Olympics and play well for them. It's my way of showing appreciation."
The women's final on Sunday was a similarly gruelling affair and likewise went to three games.
China's Chen lost the first game 21-9 to Okuhara but recovered to lift the Fuzhou title for the second year in a row by winning the next two 21-12, 21-18.
It was more disappointment for Okuhara, who has now lost all six finals she has contested this year.
“I tried my best, but it wasn’t enough,” she said.
“It’s very painful to accept. I’m very disappointed that I lost another final.”
In contrast, this was Chen’s fifth tournament triumph this year. “I feel honoured and proud of myself,” she said.