The Jakarta Post
World champion Kento Momota led Japan to a 3-0 win over Malaysia in a round of 16 match in the Asian Games badminton men's team competition at the Istora indoor stadium in Senayan, Jakarta, on Sunday.
Momota, who won at the World Championships early this month, dominated opponent Liew Daren 21-13, 21-14.
Despite the convincing win, the explosive 23-year-old shuttler was at times overwhelmed by Daren’s aggressive shots, especially in the second game, before he regrouped to hold off his opponent's offense.
Daren’s impressive effort, however, ended in vain as he made a rash of errors that Momota capitalized on to win the game.
During the post-match press conference, Momota applauded his opponent.
“The opponent was strong in his attacks. I’m not completely satisfied with the match and I have to prepare for tomorrow’s match,” he said.
The lefty shuttler said he hoped to win a gold medal.
Japan expanded its team lead through Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda in a doubles match against Goh V. Shem and Tan Wee Kiong.
The world’s third-ranked pair were on fire, energetically executing sharp shots throughout the game.
Sonoda repeatedly shouted in excitement and spectators seemed to be enthralled throughout the closely fought match.
With unforced errors from the Malaysia pair and clutch play from Japan in crucial moments, the match ended 21-18, 21-18 for Japan.
Tan expressed disappointment in the post-game presser.
“I think we played fine, but it was unlucky that we couldn’t win […] Maybe we were rushing throughout the match,” Tan said about their loss.
He went on to praise the Japanese as “fast players”.
Kenta Nishimoto later wrapped up Japan's overall team victory by upsetting debutant Lee Zii Jia.
Despite his spirited display, Lee lost to Nishimoto 21-18, 21-17.
The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) said it was eying gold medals in badminton given the team's improvement as of late.
JOC executive board member Yasuhiro Yamashita said that coach Riony Mainaky of Indonesia had played a key role in developing the players.
"His support is very important and effective,” he said. (mfd)