Badminton: Momota claims second title this year with huge win over world No. 1 Axelsen in Indonesia Open


Indonesia Open winner Kento Momota of Japan and runner-up Viktor Axelsen of Denmark pose after their men's singles final match in Jakarta on July 8, 2018.
Indonesia Open winner Kento Momota of Japan and runner-up Viktor Axelsen of Denmark pose after their men's singles final match in Jakarta on July 8, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Japanese shuttler Kento Momota claimed his second badminton title this year on Sunday (July 8) after defeating first-seeded Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the tournament's men's singles final.

The 23-year-old started the men's singles match with a convincing lead 11-1 at the first game's interval, before closing the match 21-14 and 21-9 after several unforced errors by the Dane.

Momota won bronze in the 2015 Indonesia Open but was slapped with a 12-month ban by the Japan Badminton Association the following year after being caught gambling in an illegal casino.

This is Momota's biggest title since his 2017 comeback. He had won the lower-level Vietnam International Challenge in March.

"This victory means so much to me ahead of the World Championships and Asian Games," he told journalists after the match.

World No. 1 Axelsen praised Momota's performance and said his opponent deserved the victory.

In the women's singles, first seed Tai Tzu-ying claimed her second tournament victory here after beating China's Chen Yufei 21-23, 21-15, 21-9.

Despite her win, the Taiwanese said she was unsatisfied with her performance and played too hastily in the opening game.

"After losing the first game, I told myself that I really need to win this match. I am glad that the crowds are behind me," she said.

Tai first won her first Indonesian Open title in 2016 as an unseeded player.

Chen said she was pleased with her tournament performance after stunning big names such as Akane Yamaguchi of Japan and South Korean Sung Ji-hyun in her road to the finals.

Second seed Yuki Fukushima and Sayaka Hirota of Japan bagged the women's doubles title after beating unseeded compatriots Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara 21-14, 16-21, 21-14.

In mixed doubles, the host nation's top-seeded Tontowi Ahmad and Lilyana Natsir thrashed Malaysians Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying 21-17, 21-8 in a repeat of the Rio Olympic final two years ago.

Indonesia matched Japan's two titles, with first seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo beating Japanese fourth seeds Takuto Inoue and and Yuki Kaneko in the men's doubles 21-13, 21-16.