Momota, Yamaguchi raise Olympic hopes with Japanese sweep
World number one Kento Momota said he was lifted by the crowd and can’t wait to return for the Tokyo Olympics after he sealed a home singles sweep at the Japan Open.
Momota and Akane Yamaguchi gave Japan their first ever sweep of the men’s and women’s singles titles on Sunday, raising Japanese hopes a year out from the 2020 Games.
Momota, last year’s champion, has now won 10 matches in a row at the venue that will host the Olympic badminton tournament. “I felt great as I heard a lot of applause and the court is great, too,” Japan’s Daily Sports quoted the world champion as saying.
“I want to play (next year) to entertain them at this venue so that I can return the favour,” he said.
The win came after Momota made a second-round exit at the Indonesia Open in Jakarta as top seed and defending champion.
“I didn’t get good results last week and I wasn’t confident of a repeat,” Momota said, according to Kyodo news agency.
“But so many people were rooting for me, and thanks to all of you I was able to win. I hope to keep working hard knowing that I have that support.”
Momota clinched the men’s title after world number two Yamaguchi beat third-ranked Nozomi Okuhara in an all-Japanese women’s singles decider.
The match lasted just 46 minutes, with 22-year-old Yamaguchi lifting her second straight trophy after last week’s Indonesia Open. “It’s the first time I’ve ever won two weeks in a row and there’s a feeling of accomplishment,” Kyodo quoted her as saying.
“I had a bad feeling when we started out with long rallies. But it was good I was able to regain control of the moment and play with perseverance.”