Kumamoto Masters: Momota Keeps Going

Home heartthrob Kento Momota continued to impress in his comeback from a prolonged spell of poor form, as he beat Rasmus Gemke to enter the quarterfinals of the Kumamoto Masters Japan 2023.

Momota had on Sunday won his first title in two years, the Korea Masters 2023, which saw him climb 11 places to No.41 in the BWF World Rankings. After winning both his qualifying round matches in Kumamoto on Tuesday, Momota beat eighth seed Loh Kean Yew in the opening round yesterday in a close third game.

The former world No.1 came through a stiff test today against Gemke. Having won the opening game from 17-19 down, he had an opportunity to win the match in straight games but Gemke kept his nerve to take the match into a decider.

Momota exerted great control at the net.

The Dane established a big lead, going up 11-5 at the break and 14-8 before Momota fought back with his aggressive game, landing several smash winners close to the lines. The Japanese reeled off seven points in a row to take the lead at 15-14 and never relinquished control, eventually winning 21-19 20-22 21-16 in 100 minutes.

“He looked like he wanted to play a lot of rallies with me, so I decided to play more half-smashes and clears, and my strategy went well,” said Momota.

“I know my hairpin netshots were really good, and I wanted to play more attacking shots and use my netshots as much as possible. I could handle my opponent’s smashes very well today. As long as I can make myself ready for his smashes, I knew I’d be fine.”

Momota said he was still surprised by his first round win over Loh Kean Yew.

“Yesterday’s opponent (Loh) is really fast, and honestly I’m surprised that I could win yesterday.”

Next up for Momota will be Lu Guang Zu or Shi Yu Qi.

An Se Young eased through to the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, in women’s singles, top seed An Se Young – in her comeback event from an injury layoff – beat Gao Fang Jie to enter the quarterfinals.

Olympic champion Chen Yu Fei was stretched by 2022 World Junior champion Tomoka Miyazaki in the opening game before easing through 23-21 21-12 to set up a clash with fifth seed Carolina Marin.


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