Momota Back to Winning Ways – German Open: Review

World No.1 Kento Momota gave himself the perfect tune-up for the Yonex All England by winning the Yonex German Open yesterday over compatriot Kenta Nishimoto.

The all-Japanese men’s singles final saw Momota outclass Nishimoto 21-10 21-16 for his first title since the Fuzhou China Open in November last year.

Japan finished with three titles. Akane Yamaguchi beat Ratchanok Intanon in a tense women’s singles final (16-21 21-14 25-23), and Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe surprised compatriots Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda in the men’s doubles final (15-21 21-11 21-12).

Akane Yamaguchi (left) pipped Ratchanok Intanon for the women’s singles crown.

China’s Du Yue/Li Yinhui won their biggest title as a pair with their triumph in women’s doubles, while Korea’s Seo Seung Jae/Chae Yujung followed up on their victory at the Barcelona Spain Masters by claiming the mixed doubles crown.

Du/Li capped a spectacular week in which they beat fourth seeds Greysia Polii/Apriyani Rahayu in the quarterfinals, top seeds Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota in the semifinals, and second seeds Misaki Matsutomo/Ayaka Takahashi in the final, 22-20 21-15.

Korea’s Seo Seung Jae (right) and Chae Yujung triumphed in mixed doubles.

Korea’s Seo/Chae had a close shave in the quarterfinals against Dechapol Puavarnukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai, but were otherwise in cruise mode, quelling the challenge of Indonesia’s Hafiz Faizal/Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in the final 21-17 21-11.

Momota Finds his Touch

Kenta Nishimoto had beaten Momota at the Malaysia Masters this year, but on Sunday Momota was simply too good for his compatriot, wrapping up the contest in just 41 minutes.

Momota did have trouble during the week, as he was taken to three games in the second round by France’s Brice Leverdez, and by Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Vittinghus in the semifinals.

The victory is expected to give Momota the edge he needs as he seeks success at the All England, which no Japanese men’s singles player has ever won. In fact, Momota himself has never made it past the quarterfinals – which he reached three straight times, from 2014 to 2016, before a 15-month layoff due to a ban affected his participation at the last two events.

Du Yue (left) and Li Yinhui won their biggest title as a pair.

The Japanese was the standout men’s singles player last year, but this season he has had mixed luck. He crashed out in the opening round of the Malaysia Masters and was outwitted by Denmark’s Anders Antonsen in the final of the Indonesia Masters before coming good in Germany.

Still, Momota will be seen as the man to beat at the All England, simply given his record at the major events since his comeback.

Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, who lost close matches to Momota in Indonesia and Germany, puts Momota on a higher pedestal than any other contemporary player.

Hiroyuki Endo (right) and Yuta Watanabe got the better of compatriots Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda.

“His quality – that’s what sets him apart from everyone else,” said Vittinghus after the second round loss in Jakarta. “You feel like every time you put him under pressure, he has a way to just hit the shot back with tremendous quality. So you have to play 10-15 shots with good quality to win the point. Of course some of the players have tremendous quality as well, but I feel he’s always five percent better on that point. I don’t feel his pace is higher than anyone else, or his tactical game is much better, but I feel the quality of his shots is almost always close to perfect.

“When he’s attacking, he’s rarely going all out, he’s attacking more with just control, but that also means all his shots are often close to the lines, or close to the net, so you feel you have to cover more of the court than you have to against the other guys. You just have to run more against him which makes it harder.

“In defence he’s very solid, (only) Chen Long is on par with him. Again, the next shot, like his lift or at the net, is slightly better. Every time you have him under pressure you feel the next shot he hits is good quality, so you have to start over and start building the pressure again.”

Momota has a good draw at the All England, as he takes on Thailand’s Khosit Phetpradab in the first round and either Kantaphon Wangcharoen (Thailand) or Wang Tzu Wei (Chinese Taipei) in the second.

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