JAPAN OPEN 2018 Day 1 – Momota begins Testing of Tokyo Olympic venue

Most of the badminton world’s top 32 in 3 disciplines gathered to kick off the 2018 Japan Open, in a new hall “Musashi Forest Sports Plaza” in Chofu City, Tokyo.  […]

Most of the badminton world’s top 32 in 3 disciplines gathered to kick off the 2018 , in a new hall “Musashi Forest Sports Plaza” in Chofu City, Tokyo.  This badminton venue built for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

By Miyuki Komiya, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo.  Photos: Badmintonphoto (live)

The Musashi Forest Sports Plaza opened last November but for the first time since it was designated the Olympic badminton venue, the world’s top players tested out the court conditions.  On Tuesday, September 11th, both singles disciplines and mixed doubles played their opening rounds of the 2018 Japan Open.

Among the highlights of Day 1 at the 2018 Open was (pictured right) coming back home for an international tournament, this time as the reigning World Champion.  Last year, Momota had only been back from suspension for a few months before he was entered in his home event and he did not make it off the reserve list.

Momota played the opening match on Court 1 against Anders Antonsen (pictured top) of Denmark.  It only the second meeting between the two men.  Their only previous encounter happened last month at the World Championships and Antonsen was the only player to get one game from Momota in that entire tournament.

In this second match, Momota played very aggressively.  In the first game, Momota gave only one service over to Antonsen after the mid-game interval.  In the second, Antonsen was running slower than in the first game and Momota found himself able to attack more and more.  When the dust cleared, Momota had defeated Antonsen by a convincing 21-9, 21-10.

After the match Momota said, “In the World Championships, I focused on my defense because I couldn’t attack due to injury and I had confidence in my defense at that time.  So I also used my defense in the Asian Games too but it was not a good choice for me and I lost.  This time, I prepared my offensive skills in training before this tournament so I was able to do well with aggressive play from start to finish.”

“My match is the first match with a Japanese player on court.  When I win, I believe other Japanese players also follow me with confidence so I wanted to win this match,” Momota added.

Momota goes on to play another Dane, Spain Masters winner Rasmus Gemke, in the second round.  The day featured a number of upsets in the first round with World Championship runner-up Shi Yuqi making an early exit – losing to Khosit Phetpradab (pictured left) – along with Asian Games gold medallist Jonatan Christie, who lost to H. S. Prannoy.  Shi’s exit means that Momota could return to his career-high world #2 ranking by next week if he can win this title at home.

Click here for complete Tuesday results

Miyuki Komiya

About Miyuki Komiya

Miyuki Komiya is Badzine's correspondent in Japan. She joined the Badzine team in 2008 to provide coverage of the Japanese badminton scene. She has played badminton for more than 30 years and has been a witness to the modern history of Japanese badminton, both watching players become stronger on court and hearing the players comment on their increasing success over the years. Contact her at: miyuki @ badzine.net