Badminton: Japan's Kento Momota hungry for victory in World Championships

Kento Momota is the man in form coming into the Nanjing showpiece and is tipped by many to win the tournament.
Kento Momota is the man in form coming into the Nanjing showpiece and is tipped by many to win the tournament.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NANJING (China) • Japan's Kento Momota brushed off any talk of pressure after the world No. 7 made a blistering start to his badminton World Championships campaign yesterday.

The explosive 23-year-old is the man in form coming into the Nanjing showpiece and is tipped by many to win the tournament.

After swatting aside Ukraine's Artem Pochtarov 21-13, 21-12 in the first round, Momota said: "I don't take the attention at home and abroad as pressure, but instead motivation.

"The first match was an easy win. I feel very good now and hope I can win all the matches. I want to win," Xinhua news agency quoted the sixth seed as saying.

Momota will next take on Luka Wraber, the 136th-ranked Austrian, today.

In the women's draw, world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei eased through to underline her status as the woman to beat.

The top seed was never really in trouble against Wendy Chen of Australia, winning 21-10, 21-16 to reach the third round.

Similarly untroubled were former No. 1 Saina Nehwal of India, the 10th seed, who beat Turkey's Aliye Demirbag 21-17, 21-8.

However, Thai star Ratchanok Intanon survived a major scare as the fourth seed was forced to battle back from the brink of a shock early exit before prevailing 16-21, 22-20, 21-10.

Ratchanok, the 2013 champion, looked set to go out to the unseeded Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark, before recovering her poise to gleefully reach the third round.

The 23-year-old Thai went down in the first game after a lacklustre display and was struggling for rhythm in much of the second, trailing 19-16 at one stage.

But the former No. 1 then stormed back to squeeze through the second game and then raced away in the decider.

She will face Nehwal tomorrow.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2018, with the headline 'Momota hungry for Nanjing victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe