• Kyodo

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Kento Momota, the world’s No. 1 men’s badminton player, opened his year by winning the Malaysia Masters on Sunday.

Momota beat Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 24-22, 21-11 in the men’s singles final to win his first title of the year ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics. Axelsen is ranked fifth in the world.

Axelson overcame an 18-13 deficit in a tightly contested first game, but everything went Momota’s way in the second game.

Momota, who missed the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics due to a suspension for illegal gambling, won 11 international meets last year, and is now looking to become Japan’s first Olympic badminton gold medalist in men’s singles.

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