Flamboyant Japanese badminton star Kento Momota promised to cool down after getting excited by an enthusiastic home crowd in his first-round victory at the world championships in Tokyo on Monday.
No. 2-seeded Momota’s career had been on a steady decline since he was badly injured in a car accident more than two years ago, but he topped the list with a 21-16, 21-14 victory over Mexico’s Lino Muñoz. I looked back at the form.
Momota took an early lead and seemed to enjoy the admiration of the Tokyo crowd until Muñoz, ranked 82nd in the world, returned to the match.
Momota said he wanted to show the audience that he had “done a little too much” in what he was capable of, and promised to “calm down” in the next match.
After the game, Momota said, “I scored one and I heard a girl behind me shouting ‘wonderful.'”
“Hearing that, I wanted to do it again, but I lost the next point.
Momota advanced to the next round alongside world number one Dane Viktor Axelsen, but third seed Anders Antonsen crashed out at the first hurdle.
The 2019 world silver medalist fell behind early and was unable to gain a foothold after losing 21-15, 21-19 to Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto.
Antonsen, 25, was playing in his first official game in three months after pulling an abdominal muscle and “suddenly felt a little strange to be on the court again.”
“I feel like I’m playing better and better,” said Antonsen, who saved four match points.
“It’s been a long time since I played, so I have to get back into the game. Today was the start.”
Axelsen clinched the world No. 1 spot with a comfortable 21-16, 21-12 victory over Darren Liu of Malaysia.
Axelsen was delighted to have successfully passed the world number 29 ranking.
“Every first round is always tricky. Darren is an experienced opponent. If he plays well, he’s a really good player,” said Axelsen.
“I had to step up for the majority of the game today and I’m really happy with how I handled everything.”
China’s Shi Yuqi returned to action after 10 months of suspension, defeating Ade Leski Dwikahyo of Azerbaijan 22-20, 21-10.
Shi, a 2018 world finalist, was banned from the China Badminton Association for making “inappropriate comments” about his retirement during his 2021 match with Hyakuta.
He said he was “a little nervous” when he stepped onto the court to face Dwikahyo, but once he settled into the match, he said it was “great to play again”.
“It definitely feels a lot different,” said the 26-year-old.
“When you’re playing in training, it’s a lot different than playing in a tournament.”
Defending champion Lo Keen Yew (Singapore) also advanced with a 21-12, 21-12 victory over Pablo Abian of Spain.