Momota Hopes for Rematch With 'Big Hero' Lee
World number one Kento Momota said Thursday he hoped for another showdown against "big hero" Lee Chong Wei, who this month announced he plans to return after successful cancer treatment.
Kento Momota (Image: Twitter)
Hong Kong: World number one Kento Momota said Thursday he hoped for another showdown against "big hero" Lee Chong Wei, who this month announced he plans to return after successful cancer treatment.
Momota has won two and lost two against the Malaysian badminton great, losing their most recent encounter at the Indonesia Open before 36-year-old Lee's diagnosis, but the Japanese player is itching for one more match.
"I admire him still and he's a really big hero," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Hong Kong Open's second round.
"I'd really like to hit a shuttle with him on court again. So I really hope he comes back as soon as possible."
Lee last week said he could return to training by the end of the year after responding well to nose cancer treatment, adding he had no intention of retiring and has an eye on an elusive gold medal at what would be his fifth summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Momota has said he wants to emulate Lee and Chinese player Lin Dan -- two super-stars who reigned over badminton for well over a decade.
He bested Lin in a bruising first-round clash at Hong Kong Coliseum, sapping his strength for Thursday's second round against countryman Kanta Tsuneyama in what became a test of mental endurance.
"I was tired and couldn't increase my speed, so it was a really, really tough match," Momota said after his narrow 17-21, 21-17, 21-16 win.
Momota shot to top of the rankings this year after a gambling scandal saw him slapped with a 12-month ban.
He will next face Asian Games winner Jonatan Christie, who on Thursday took down seventh seed Anthony Ginting 21-15, 25-23 in an all Indonesian derby.
Elsewhere sixth seed South Korean Son Wan-ho faced down some menacing smash shots from Khosit Phetpradab, clawing back a 5-10 deficit in the second game to win 11 of the next 14 points against the Thai and advance to the last eight 21-15, 21-19.
Marin roars in
Spain's Carolina Marin roared into the women's quarter-finals after blitzing Michelle Li 21-14, 21-8 in a triumphant rematch of her second-round loss last year.
The reigning Olympic champion was wrong-footed early in the first game as Li sought to contain her opponent's peerless aggression with some breezy taps over the net.
But Marin soon got the Canadian's measure and a few soaring lobs brought the rallies back to her combative style.
"I'm feeling really good today. I'm happy with how I could control the shuttle on court," she told AFP after the match.
Third seed P.V. Sindhu suffered a 26-24, 22-20 upset at the hands of South Korea's Sung Ji Hyun, a day after the Indian told AFP that nerves had almost derailed her first round match.
Pornpawee Chochuwong won a berth in the final eight after wearing out Mia Blichfeldt 17-21, 21-10, 21-13, a day after the Thai upset fourth seed Chen Yufei in the first round.
Chochuwong's Danish challenger recovered from a mid-point stumble to jump back and dominate the highlight rally of the match, but tired in the final minutes and couldn't hide her frustration after a flurry of unforced errors.
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