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Kento Momota wins historic first All England Open title

Kyodo

World No. 1 Kento Momota on Sunday became the first Japanese man to win the All England Open badminton championships when he beat Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 2-1 in the men’s singles final.

Momota, the reigning world champion and Asian champion, was stretched to three games by the 2017 world champion at the Arena Birmingham but prevailed 21-11, 15-21, 21-15 in badminton’s oldest tournament.

“I was super happy,” Momota said of his receiving the silver trophy.

Momota lost four straight points at the start of the third-game decider in which he was forced to play defensively, but held his nerve and started exerting better control and hitting a flurry of close-range hairpin net shots after the scoreline reached 9-9.

The 24-year-old Japanese took a 12-11 lead and then won seven straight points en route to victory. The win was the first for Japan in the All England men’s singles since the country’s first player competed in 1963.

“The 2020 Olympic (qualifying) race begins in May and it gives me a lot of confidence that I was able to win the pre-Olympic event that everyone wanted to win,” said Momota.

“But the battle starts from here. I want to work hard to raise my level.”

In his All England debut in 2014, Momota was defeated by top seed Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia in straight games.

This year, he was playing for the first time in three years in the 109th edition of the world famous championships.

In the mixed doubles final, Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino lost to the Chinese duo of Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong 2-0 in a repeat of last year’s final, missing out on a second straight title.

China’s Chen Yufei won the women’s singles title by defeating defending champion Tai Tzu Ying 2-0.

Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan, also from China, came from one game down to beat the Japanese team of Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara 2-1 for the women’s doubles crown.

Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan won the men’s doubles title.