The top-ranked singles shuttlers in the world Kento Momota and Chen Yufei started off their 2020 season in fine fashion with titles at the Malaysia Masters Super 500 tournament in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Momota won the men’s singles gold medal after extending his domination over Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen with a hard-fought 24-22, 21-11 win on Sunday.
The victory in Malaysia lends credence to Momota’s drive to win the gold in July’s Tokyo Olympics.
The reigning world champion told reporters that he eyes more success in 2020. Momota, currently the best player on the planet, won a record 11 titles last year.
“My condition was not perfect coming into this tournament, but I was focused on this week and was able to play calmly,” said the Japanese star, who pocketed $30,000.
“I do not think I am the strongest, but I am sharp and confident especially after winning the World Tour Finals last year. I know when to focus on attack and defence.”
Momota held a 13-1 win record against Axelsen coming into this showdown, but the lanky Dane tried to close the gap by racing to a 7-1 lead in the opening game. But Momota kept his calm and eventually took the first game despite Axelsen holding match point on three occasions.
The second game was dominated by the 25-year-old Momota, who defended strongly against Axelsen’s aggressive attack.
He took 54-minutes to defeat Axelsen.
Axelsen could have taken the first game at 21-20, but a racquet fault denied him. The Dane, however, admitted Momota would have still won if it had gone to three games.
“It could have been different, but Momota has shown he is stable in three games,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the in-form Chinese shuttler Chen Yu Fei took home the women’s singles title when she ousted Taiwanese top seed Tai Tzu-Ying 21-17, 21-10.
Chen, ranked world No 1, was however the second seed at the tournament but she has made it two big wins in a row against Tzu Ying. Before the title clash at BWF World Tour Finals last year, Tai Tzu Ying had a 14-1 record against Chen but the Chinese star has now won two matches in a row.
On Sunday, Chen displayed great patience to match her offense and produced a rather convincing win against Tzu Ying in a match that lasted 37 minutes.
For the Indian contingent, Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu were the two who went the deepest in the tournament, losing in the quarterfinals against Carolina Marin and Tzu Ying respectively.
All results of the finals at Malaysia Masters can be found here.
(With AFP inputs)