Can anybody stop ‘King Kento’ Momota, the new men’s singles champion of the YONEX All England Open?
The reigning World Champion, Asian Champion and world No.1 is now the winner of badminton’s oldest tournament, the first Japanese men’s singles winner in history.
Momota is a man who at just 24 is constantly re-writing history and today he did so in spectacular fashion against the steadfast challenge of Viktor Axelsen – prevailing 21-11 15-21 21-15.
It was an absorbing, see-saw final with Axelsen smashing his way to take the second set, but Momota has been on a trailblazing comeback 12 months, and he’s just topped the lot.
After the victory at badminton’s greatest show, he commented: “Winning this tournament has been a dream from my childhood and having won this it is a really big moment in my life, and gives me a lot of confidence.
“The second game I played defensively against some very powerful shots from Viktor but in the final game I knew I couldn’t carry on like that.
“So I didn’t play particular tactics I just gave all I had and did my best!”
The world No.1 played just as so in the first game, racing into a 6-2 lead despite the trick-shots coming out from Axelsen, an audacious though-the-legs shot from the backline waited on and despatched by Momota.
With the Japanese shuttler’s consistency increasing his lead Axelsen tried a few wild shots but couldn’t get back into things, walking swiftly off court after game point.
But the second game saw a different pattern, where Axelsen’s smashes were finding only a diving Momota in the first set now they were finding court.
Most mere mortals would have struggled to get just one Axelsen smash back but Momota managed several, three successive smashes needed to finally win a point to send the Dane 10-9 up.
The world No.1 struggled to withstand this barrage, going 15-11 down and then 18-13 as rifled cross-courters dealt him hammer blows.
Axelsen raced into a 4-0 lead to start the decider but the pattern of Danish attack versus Japanese defence levelled out, with the scoreline reaching 7-7.
8-8 and 9-9 followed as King Kento got his own attack going, drawing Axelsen into the net and angling his own smashes in to build a lead, seven consecutive points helped him reach 19-11 to kill off the Dane’s mighty challenge.
Always modest, Momota thanked those who supported him to reach this pinnacle: “I won the tournament but this is not just my achievement. I’ve been helped by all the people, my staff and people in Japan.
“I hope this win will help raise the badminton level in Japan. I’m going to keep improving myself so that everybody can be helped along with me.”