SINGAPORE OPEN SF – Japanese flag flying high

World champion and world #1 Kento Momota cruised his way through to the finals after beating Viktor Axelsen, 21-15, 21-18. Japan has successfully sent finalists in all events save for […]

World champion and world #1 Kento Momota cruised his way through to the finals after beating Viktor Axelsen, 21-15, 21-18. Japan has successfully sent finalists in all events save for mixed doubles at the 2019 .

By Seria Rusli, Badzine Correspondent live in Singapore. Photos: Mikael Ropars / Badmintonphoto (live)

After a convincing win in the first game of his Singapore Open semi-final against Viktor Axelsen, Kento Momota (pictured top) made an incredible comeback in the second game when he was trailing 16-6 from Axelsen. The Dane bagged points at the start by relentlessly attacking left-handed Momota’s back hand, but the tables turned when the Japanese top shuttler, who was able to anticipate the attacks afterwards, gained ten consecutive points to close the gap and stunned Axelsen 21-18.

“Viktor kept on smashing in the second game and he was likely thinking that he would be going to the third game. Perhaps his focus was somewhere else during the game, and that’s why I could come back,” said Momota, who had also defeated Axelsen in the All England final this year.

“I lost to a better opponent today,” said the disappointed Dane, who had just rounded up his twelfth match in three weeks. Axelsen was competing in three back-to-back tournaments in India, Malaysia and Singapore.

Momota will face Indonesia’s Anthony Sinisuka Ginting (pictured) in the finals.  Defending champion Chou Thien Chen became the latest top seeded players to fall under Ginting’s impressive run in Singapore. After beating Chinese top shuttler Chen Long on Friday, the Indonesian upset the second seeded Chinese Taipei shuttler in a thrilling three-game, 21-17, 18-21, 21-14, to book his first finals spot this year.

Ginting worked his way up from being 8 points down to snatch the first game from Chou.

“I was in a better position on the court since the draft was beneficial to me, so I did not hesitate with my shots at all.”

Chou, who stretched his opponent to a third game, was constantly under pressure from Ginting’s relentless smashes which won him several crucial points at the start of the final game. The Indonesian continued maintaining a comfortable lead throughout and booked his slot to the finals of Singapore Open after a 78-minute match.

In another impressive comeback story, Tai Tzu Ying (pictured left) escaped a close shave from Akane Yamaguchi in the semi-finals, 15-21, 24-22, 21-19.

Tai was 4 points down at the all-crucial 20-16 mark in the second game, but she managed to level at 20-20, before pushing her way through to a 24-22 win. In the deciding game, she was lagging throughout before gaining 6 consecutive points at 16-14 to eventually win the match.

Still, Japan will have a representative in the women’s singles final through Nozumi Okuhara (pictured right).  She outclassed India’s pride Pusarla Venkata Sindhu in a quick 21-7, 21-11 match.

Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara emerged as the winner in the all-Japanese semi-final women’s doubles match. They upset their higher seeded compatriots Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota 21-18, 21-17.

Matsumoto/Nagahara will face unseeded Koreans Kim Hye Jeong / Kong Hee Yong who beat Liu Xuanxuan / Xia Yuting 21-15, 21-15. Kim / Kong had upset two top-seeded Japanese pairs Misaki Matsumoto / Ayaka Takahashi and Nami Matsuyama / Chiharu Shida enroute to the semi-finals.

Japan secured another slot in the finals through their men’s doubles pair Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (pictured left) who toppled world #1 and tournament favourites Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo of Indonesia, 13-21, 21-10, 21-19.

They will face another Indonesian duo Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan who ousted world #2 and last week’s Malaysia Open champions Li Junhui / Liu Yuchen (CHN), 21-11, 21-14.

Thai mixed doubles duo Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (pictured bottom) avenged their Malaysia Open loss by upsetting top seeds Zheng Siwei / Huang Yaqiong from China, 24-22, 21-19.

They will face Malaysians Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing who beat Hafiz Faizal / Gloria Emanuelle Widjaja in a three thrilling games 21-16, 20-22, 22-20.

Finals line-up
WS:  Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) [1] vs. Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) [2]
XD:  Dechapol Puavaranukroh / Sapsiree Taerattanachai (THA) [3] vs. Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing (MAS)
WD:  Mayu Matsumoto / Wakana Nagahara (JPN) [3] vs. Kim Hye Jeong / Kong Hee Yong (KOR)
MD:  Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) [3] vs. Mohammad Ahsan / Hendra Setiawan (INA) [4]
MS:  Kento Momota (JPN) [1] vs. Anthony Ginting (INA) [7]

Click here for complete semi-final results

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