Patience pays off for world No. 1 shuttler Momota
Japanese shuttler's cool temperament helps him win second S'pore Open title
Four years ago, Kento Momota was a rising star whose patience in Singapore saw him prevail 21-17, 16-21, 21-15 in 80 minutes to win his first Superseries singles title.
Much has changed since then. The 24-year-old is now the world No. 1 and world champion, but his ability to stay patient in trying times has remained the same.
The Japanese came from behind to beat Indonesia's Anthony Ginting 10-21, 21-19, 21-13 in 73 minutes for the Singapore Badminton Open men's singles title yesterday.
He revealed what he told himself while trailing in the second and third games: "Just be patient, never give up, just return any kind of shot (Ginting hits) and return as many as possible."
In front of 4,962 fans at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Ginting was the sharper of the two in the first game.
Unleashing a barrage of smashes, the 22-year-old reeled off eight points in a row to build a 13-4 lead as Momota looked often to his coaches for answers, but found none as Ginting took the first game 21-10.
The world No. 9 was up 16-11 in the second game, but costly errors and solid retrieving from Momota saw the latter turn the tables to take an 18-17 lead.
Momota, pumping his fist, would force a third game.
He trailed again at 12-8, but showed his powers of recovery to score nine consecutive points to lead 17-12.
He allowed Ginting only one more point before sealing his victory with a shot that his opponent reached too late.
Said Ginting: "He is a smart player, he can read what I'm going to do and anticipate my shots."
Momota, however, did not feel he changed much of his game plan.
"Ginting played much better than me and there was no turning point, but I think maybe he got tired and he was getting slower so I could catch up to him," he said.
Momota, who in 2015 was the first Japanese man to win a Superseries singles title, said of his Singapore triumphs: "This is the first place I won a major title and at that moment my badminton career totally changed. I'm happy to win again this year, Singapore is special to me."
In the women's singles final, Taiwan's Tai Tzu-ying defeated Japan's Nozomi Okuhara 21-19, 21-15 to clinch her second title in as many weeks, following last week's Malaysia Open triumph.
Tai, the women's world No. 1, had saved five match-points against Akane Yamaguchi in the semi-finals on Saturday.
She kept her nerves yesterday as well, securing the first game after Okuhara worked her way from 13-8 down to 18-18.
Two other events were won by Japanese players yesterday - women's doubles pair Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara beat South Koreans Kim Hye Jeong and Kong Hee Yong 21-17, 22-20, while Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda won the men's doubles title after beating Indonesians Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan 21-13, 19-21, 21-17.
Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai of Thailand beat Malaysians Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing 21-14, 21-6 for the mixed doubles title.