Asia Badminton Championship: Japan Flourish as Momota Retains Title, Endo-Watanabe Shock World No.1
Asia Badminton Championship 2019: Kento Momota beat Shi Yuqi to retain men’s singles title while Endo-Watanabe stunned world No.1 Gideon-Sukamuljo.
Kento Momota came from behind to beat Shi Yuqi in Badminton Asia Championship 2019. (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Wuhan: Japan had a brilliant end to the Badminton Asia Championship 2019 after Akane Yamaguchi’s historic victory as Kento Momota and the Japanese men’s doubles pair of Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe won their title matches on Sunday.
For the first time in the history of the tournament, Japan emerged as the overall winners with three titles, ending China’s 12-year domination.
World No.1 Kento Momota defended his men’s singles title against home favourite Shi Yuqi by coming from a game down to win the match.
Momota beat Yuqi 12-21, 21-18, 21-8 in an hour and 10 minutes and stood on the podium with a wide smile on his face upon the title defence.
It wasn’t a rosy beginning for the world No.1 as Yuqi had come up with a brilliant plan to counter him. Yuqi was playing a high speed game with impeccable accuracy and pushed Momota behind completely.
Such was the prowess of Yuqi in the first game that Momota struggled to find replies and look completely clueless at times.
However, all of that changed in the second game as Momota began to find his stride. As Momota stayed in touch with Yuqi and played him around, fatigue began to creep in for Yuqi and he began missing his lines and net strokes.
Badminton Asia Championship 2019Players quotesA new generation of players are taking over and I am pleased to be part of it. Defeating Tien Minh gave me the satisfaction of defeating a veteran en route to the final. Retaining my title in Wuhan is a mission accomplished-Momota— Badminton Asia (@Badminton_Asia) April 28, 2019
The impeccable attack Yuqi showed in the first game started to crack as Momota’s defence got better and he started sending more and more shuttles back.
Also, Yuqi was dictating the rallies in the match in the first game but that changed in the second game as Momota gained more and more control of the game to eventually take the second game.
The decider was a one-sided affair as Yuqi completely struggled to find the legs to keep going. Momota gained speed, momentum and accuracy as he beat the Chinese world No.2.
Endo and Watanabe absolutely destroyed the world No.1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 21-18, 21-3 in the final in just 35 minutes as they became the first Japanese pair to win a mixed doubles title in Badminton Asia Championship.
Gideon-Sukamuljo were the heavy favourites going into the match but none of that mattered as Endo-Watanabe came out all guns blazing against the world No.1s.
Gideon and Sukamuljo, on the other hand, struggled with their rhythm and control. Gideon, who is known for his booming and steep smashes, struggled to keep his smashes steep which allowed Endo and Watanabe to defend easily.
While the first game remained a neck-and-neck, Endo and Watanabe did not allow Gideon and Sukamuljo to play themselves in in the second game.
The Japanese pair kept banging the shuttles at the Indonesian pair and went into the break with an 11-1 lead.
Even after the break, the Indonesians failed to match Endo and Watanabe and succumbed to the worst defeat of their career.
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