TOKYO: Japan’s Kento Momota outgunned Thai rival Khosit Phetpradab 21-14, 21-11 in a one-sided final to capture the Japan Open badminton title on Sunday.
The 24-year-old sank to his knees after a towering smash completed a comfortable win, kissing the Japanese badge on his shirt as he took another step towards redemption following a gambling scandal that threatened to ruin his career. “I was just so overwhelmed at winning and the sense of what I achieved,” said Momota after becoming the first Japanese player to win the men’s singles crown. “I kept telling myself ‘a couple more points, a couple more points’ — and then finally it was over. The home support was a massive help.”
Momota, who was booted off the Japanese team for the 2016 Rio Olympics and banned for over a year for visiting an illegal casino, had been furious with himself after crashing out of the Asian Games at the semi-final stage last month. But having beaten China’s two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in the Tokyo quarter-finals and top seed Viktor Axelsen in the last four, Momota’s run to the Japan Open title was fully deserved as he dominated his matches with his attacking style.