India’s Parupalli Kashyap tried his best to get past Kento Momota but failed to find a way as he went down 21-13, 21-15 in the semi-finals of the Korea Open Super 500 badminton tournament in Incheon on Saturday.
The 33-year-old, playing in his second Super 500 semi-final of the year, was definitely the underdog in the match against world champion Momota. Kashyap showed some spark in the initial exchanges but he was always chasing the match.
Both players began the opening game rather conservatively, engaging in long toss-drop rallies and not wanting to go for winners.
While Momota was solid and consistent through out that period, Kashyap took his chances on the net exchanges and caught his opponent on the wrong foot.
But the Japanese always had the lead as he tested the Indian’s patience and the point at 10-7 when he engaged Kashyap in the longest rally of the game also tested the fitness levels of the 33-year-old. Momota won the point and then stepped on the gas after the break to race through the remainder of the game.
The second game saw Momota assert himself more early on as he bagged five straight points from 3-2 to take an 8-2 lead was now beginning to play his array of strokes.
To Kashyap’s credit, he wasn’t willing to give up and bagged five straight points, which included a long rally and a deceptive straight drop winner, to close the gap from 3-9 to 7-9. He strung together another series of five consecutive points, using his down the line smashes a bit more to level the score at 12-12.
But an error on the net on the next point gave Momota an opening and that was enough invitation for the world No 1 to tighten the noose as he raced to an 18-12 lead. The two-time world champion then wrapped up the match on his second match point in 40 minutes to become the first Japanese men’s singles player to reach the Korea Open final.
He will face Chinese Taipei’s Chou Tien Chen on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Ratchanok Intanon defeated women’s world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying in straight games to extend the lead in head-to-head against the Taiwanese to 14-12.