Singapore Badminton Open 2019

Singapore Badminton Open 2019: Patience pays off again for Kento Momota

Japan's Kento Momota showing his true grit in staging a comeback win over Anthony Ginting of Indonesia in the Singapore Badminton Open men's singles final yesterday.
Japan's Kento Momota showing his true grit in staging a comeback win over Anthony Ginting of Indonesia in the Singapore Badminton Open men's singles final yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Japanese world No. 1 comes from behind to turn the tables on Indonesia's Ginting

Four years ago, Kento Momota was a rising star whose patience in Singapore saw him prevail 21-17, 16-21, 21-15 in 80 minutes to win his first Superseries singles title.

Much has changed since then. The 24-year-old is now world No. 1 and world champion, but his ability to stay patient in trying times has remained the same.

The Japanese came from behind to beat Indonesia's Anthony Ginting 10-21, 21-19, 21-13 in 73 minutes for the Singapore Badminton Open men's singles title yesterday.

He revealed what he told himself while trailing in the second and third games: "Just be patient, never give up. Just return any kind of shot and as many as possible."

In front of the 4,962 fans at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Ginting was the sharper of the two at the start.

The 22-year-old reeled off eight points in a row to build a 13-4 lead as Momota looked often to his coaches for answers, but found none as Ginting took the first game 21-10.

The Indonesian world No. 9 looked to be cruising to victory at 16-11 up in the second game, but costly errors and solid retrieving from Momota saw the Japanese turn the tables to take an 18-17 lead.

Momota, fist pumping, would force a third game. He trailed again at 12-8, but showed his powers of recovery to score nine straight points to lead 17-12. He allowed his opponent only one more point before sealing his victory.

Momota said: "He played much better than me and there was no turning point, but I think maybe he got tired and was getting slower so I could catch up."

Said Ginting: "I tried to attack more (in the second game), but Momota already anticipated that.

"When I led (in the third), he changed his style by giving me flatter shots instead of giving me opportunities to attack. He is a smart player, he can read what I'm going to do and anticipate my shots."

As the world No. 1, Momota knows he enters tournaments with a target on his back and this is why he is constantly trying to improve his game.

"I think I'm not as good as other legendary players, so I must keep on working to improve," he said.

"Even though I'm No. 1 and the world champion, I'm not satisfied with my level."

Asked if Singapore is his favourite hunting ground, Momota said: "This is the first place I won a major title and my badminton career changed from then on. I'm happy to win again this year. Singapore is special to me."

Earlier, Japan won two other events - Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara beat 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 Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-13, 19-21, 21-17 in the men's doubles.

Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand thrashed Malaysians Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing 21-14, 21-6 to clinch the mixed doubles title.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 15, 2019, with the headline 'Patience pays off again for Momota'. Print Edition | Subscribe