Badminton: World No. 1s Kento Momota and Tai Tzu-ying triumph at Singapore Open

Kento Momota beat Anthony Ginting (not pictured) 10-21, 21-19, 21-13 to win the Singapore Badminton Open men’s singles title on April 14, 2019.
Kento Momota beat Anthony Ginting (not pictured) 10-21, 21-19, 21-13 to win the Singapore Badminton Open men’s singles title on April 14, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Kento Momota beat Anthony Ginting (not pictured) 10-21, 21-19, 21-13 to win the Singapore Badminton Open men’s singles title on April 14, 2019.
Kento Momota beat Anthony Ginting (not pictured) 10-21, 21-19, 21-13 to win the Singapore Badminton Open men’s singles title on April 14, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Tai Tzu-ying in action against Nozomi Okuhara (not pictured) during the Singapore Badminton Open women’s singles final at Singapore Indoor Stadium on April 14, 2019.
Tai Tzu-ying in action against Nozomi Okuhara (not pictured) during the Singapore Badminton Open women’s singles final at Singapore Indoor Stadium on April 14, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Tai Tzu-ying (right) triumphed 21-19, 21-15.
Tai Tzu-ying (right) triumphed 21-19, 21-15.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Despite not being at his best, world No. 1 Kento Momota dug in deep to win the Singapore Badminton Open men’s singles title on Sunday (April 14) by beating  seventh seed Anthony Ginting 10-21, 21-19, 21-13.

The 22-year-old Indonesian was the sharper of the two in the first game, reeling off eight points in a row to build a 13-4 lead. 

The Japanese reigning world champion had no answer to his opponent’s aggression as he meekly surrendered the first game 21-10.

Ginting kept his momentum to surge to a 16-11 lead in the second game but Momota rediscovered his mojo to lead 18-17 for the first time.

The 24-year-old Japanese then kept his nerves in the latter points to clinch the second set 21-19 and force a third game.

Momota found himself trailing again in the deciding game, but his never-say-die mentality saw him win nine consecutive points to go from 12-8 down to lead 17-12. 

Ginting managed only one more point as Momota built on his momentum to seal his victory in 73 minutes.


Kento Momota sealed his victory in 73 minutes. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Earlier, world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying proved too strong for third-ranked Nozomi Okuhara of Japan as she triumphed 21-19, 21-15 in the women's singles final for her second straight title this year.

Taiwanese Tai, the 2017 Singapore Open champion, won the Malaysia Open a week ago.

At the Singapore Indoor Stadium where the finals did not feature a single Chinese player, the 24-year-old was in control from the start, building a 13-8 lead in the first game.

 

Her Japanese opponent slowly worked her way into the match and levelled the score at 18-18 as their long rallies drew gasps of awe from spectators.

But Tai remained unflappable and closed out the first game.

She stepped up her aggression in the second game, and a smash that landed in the corner of the court sealed the win.

The victory extends Tai's head-to-head record against the Japanese to 5-4 - Okuhara, also 24, won their last meeting in November.

Tai, who saved four match points in the 57-minute semi-final against Japan's Akane Yamaguchi on Saturday, said at the post-match press conference: "(Okuhara) plays more offensively and she's not an easy opponent to play against.

"I know she can run, so I was mentally prepared to run a lot today since I also had a long match yesterday.

"From the first day of the competition, there were a lot of people cheering for me... today there were even more and I had so many supporters, so I was very touched."


The victory extends Tai Tzu-ying's head-to-head record against Nozomi Okuhara to 5-4. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Okuhara, the 2017 world champion, said: "She's very speedy and skilled, so I had to be careful. I made a lot of easy mistakes, so I couldn't win today.

"I put pressure on myself and I was thinking too much."

Japan clinched two of the three doubles titles, which were all won by third-seeded pairs.

Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara beat the unseeded South Koreans Kim Hye Jeong and Kong Hee Yong 21-17, 22-20 in the women’s doubles, while Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda overcame the Indonesian fourth seeds Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-13, 19-21, 21-17 in the men's event.

In the mixed doubles, Thais Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai thumped  the unseeded Malaysians Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing 21-14, 21-6.