The Perodua Malaysia Masters 2020 presented by Daihatsu saw the crowning of new champions in all categories with top seed Kento Momota leading the way after a resounding 24-22, 21-11 victory over singles rival Viktor Axelsen in the finals here tonight.
The win at Axiata Arena stretched Momota’s victory over the Danish to 14-2 and provided a boost for his Tokyo Olympics dreams. Momota, who had great achievement last year with 11 titles – the most ever by a male player in a badminton season – had missed out on the Rio Olympics in 2016 due to a gambling suspension.
It was a closely-fought first set as the Dane started off convincingly, racing to a 7-1 lead before Momota clawed back to tie 8-8. Both players were then locked in a point for point battle filled with long rallies and were tied 18-18, 22-22 before Momota ended the tie with a 24-22 victory.
Axelsen, who made into his first finals in a major competition after nearly a year, was nowhere near his best in the second set. Momota took control from the start, racing to 17-3 lead at one time. Axelsen tried to claw back into the game but to no avail and had to concede defeat in 53 minutes.
“I’m happy and relieved at the same time with this win. At the end of last season, I was really tired after a hectic season. Coming here for this tournament, my body condition was not really perfect. But I’m determined and focussed to do well because it’s my first tournament of the year,” said Momota who lost out in the very first round in last year’s tournament.
All four defending champions of the tournament – women’s singles Ratchanok Intanon, Marcus Gideon Fernaldi-Kevin Sanjaya Sakamuljo (men’s doubles), Sayaka Hirota-Yuki Fukushima (women’s doubles) and mixed pair Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino failed to make the cut into the finals this time around. Men’s singles defending champion Son Wan Ho did not participate this time around.
Meanwhile, China sounded early warning to their Olympic rivals rival with representatives in four finals today – the women’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles and women’s doubles.
In the women’s singles, second seed Chen Yu Fei demolished top seed Tai Tzu Ying 21-17, 21-10 to win her third encounter against the Taiwanese ace. The two had earlier clashed 16 times in their previous meeting with the Chinese registering only two wins.
“I was playing my normal game with a nothing-to-lose approach. I’ve lost to Tai 14 times prior to this, so I was under no pressure to deliver. The pressure was actually on Tai, I managed to force her into making errors at the net,” said Chen.
In the women’s doubles, Zheng Yu-Li Wen Mei was dragged in a marathon three-setter before clinching their second title in four years. The top seed pair defeated fellow compatriot and seventh seed Du Yue/Li Yin Hui to give China its fourth mixed doubles titles since the inaugural edition in 2009.
“It was really a roller coaster and tiring match…there’s not much gap between us and we know each other’s game very well. On court communication is key and that contributed to our win. Overall we are happy with our overall performance, we look forward to our next mission in Indonesia,” said Zheng after the match.
Kim Gi Jung/Lee Yong Dae delivered Korea’s first ever title in men’s doubles, stopping China from making a clean sweep by trouncing third seed Li Jun Hui-Liu Yu Chen (CHN) (3) in straight sets of 21-14, 21-16.
It was their first meeting against the Chinese who failed to match the Koreans’ speed and solid defence. “We’re super happy as this is our first Super 500 title and our very first 2020 title. We were not able to train and play as much as we wanted last year but we’re always hungry for victories. Thankfully, the crowd were rallying behind us all the way,” said Kim on their first meeting against the Chinese pair.
As for their Olympic qualification, Kim said: “As for now, we’ve haven’t got any points yet but there’s still time to work on it.”
In the other finals, top seed Zheng Si wei-Huang Dong Ping lived up to their status as the world’s top mixed doubles pair when they outplayed compatriot Wang Yi Lu-Huang Dong Ping 21-17, 21-10 in just 35 minutes.
Kento Momota (JPN) (1) vs Viktor Axelsen (Den) (5) 24-22, 21-11
Chen Yu Fei (CHN) (2) beat Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) (1) 21-17, 21-10
Kim Gi Jung-Lee Yong Dae (KOR) bt Li Jun Hui-Liu Yu Chen (CHN) (3) 21-14, 21-16
Li Wen Mei-Zheng Yu (CHN) bt Du Yue-Lin Yin Hui (CHN) (7) 21-19, 16-21, 21-19
Zheng Siwei-Huang Ya Qiong (CHN) (1) vs Wang Yi Lu-Huang Dong Ping (CHN) (2) 21-19, 21-12