Badminton world No. 1 Kento Momota yesterday won the All-Japan championships to complete the first step of his comeback, nearly a year after sustaining serious injuries in a car crash.
Momota came from behind to beat world No. 11 Kanta Tsuneyama 18-21, 21-12, 21-17 in Tokyo, marking a successful return from the accident that left him fearing his career might be over after fracturing an eye socket.
The win gave Momota his third straight national title, and he immediately turned his thoughts toward making his international comeback at the Thailand Open next month.
“I had the initiative in the first game, but then I started to lose my cool once I had the lead,” Momota said.
“I think that’s because I’m still not used to playing matches. In the second and third games, I wanted to put all my feeling into it regardless of technique or tactics, and I think I willed myself to the win,” he said.
“The Thailand Open starts in the new year, and I’ll be able to play against players from overseas. I want to go there and show what I can do as the top Japanese player,” he added.
Momota was badly hurt in January when a vehicle taking him to the airport after he won the Malaysia Masters crashed, killing the driver.
He admitted to feeling nervous as he returned to competition this week, and he was pushed to the limit by Tsuneyama, who took him to 16-16 in the final game only to crumble with victory in sight.
“I was too cautious,” said Momota, who returned from a game down in the quarter-finals. “Before, my game was about using everything I’d built up over time, and my results gave me the confidence to do that.”
Momota is one of Japan’s brightest hopes for a gold medal on home soil at the COVID-19-postponed Tokyo Games next year.
The 26-year-old left-hander won a record-breaking 11 titles last year, and is confident of adding more after tasting success this week.
“I’m 70 percent relieved and 30 percent happy,” Momota said. “I’m known as world No. 1 Momota, so I feel that I’m not allowed to lose.”
“It wasn’t easy for me to get the No. 1 ranking. It’s because of my experience and ability, and I really hate to lose,” he said. “That pride helps me, but there is also pressure, and I want to keep doing more. If I can, I want to get back to training tomorrow.”
Constructing intricate models with Lego has become an important part of preparation for French Open champion Iga Swiatek and the 19-year-old Pole is confident her game is shaping up for success on all kinds of surfaces. The 19-year-old Pole last year became the youngest woman to win the Roland Garros title since Monica Seles in 1992 and on Saturday she picked up the second trophy of her career at the Adelaide International. Swiatek has often attributed her success to her sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz, who has helped the Polish player improve her mental strength and process her thoughts during intense matches. Work on
RUTHLESS FORM: The 19-year-old Iga Swiatek downed world No. 12 Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-2 to claim the second title of her career, after winning Roland Garros last year French Open champion Iga Swiatek yesterday crushed world No. 12 Belinda Bencic in straight sets to claim the Adelaide International at Memorial Drive. The 19-year-old Pole was in ruthless form as she downed Bencic 6-2, 6-2 to claim the second title of her career. Swiatek burst onto the tennis scene at Roland Garros last year when she claimed the French Open crown, defeating then world No. 6 Sofia Kenin in the final. She started strongly against Bencic and never eased up, breaking her Swiss opponent twice in each set to wrap up a comfortable win. Both players were untroubled, holding their opening service games
Paul McBeth, the world’s top-ranked disc golfer, has become the richest athlete in the sport’s history after signing a record US$10 million endorsement contract with Discraft to represent the manufacturer through 2031. “It’s mind-blowing to me to think that the 17-year-old me — or even before that, the 14-year-old me — made the right move to put myself in this position and be able to propel the sport to potentially the next level,” McBeth said in a YouTube video announcing the blockbuster deal on Wednesday. “I feel like this is just the beginning.” The 30-year-old, from Huntington Beach, California, is widely regarded
A late sprint on the final bend on Friday earned Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber the gold medal in the Nordic combined event as he edged out Ilkka Herola of Finland by four-tenths of a second at the FIS Ski World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany. Japan’s Ryota Yamamoto recorded the longest ski jump of the competition to top the standings heading in to the 10km cross-country ski race, but he was soon left behind as the stronger skiers engaged in a tough battle at the front of the field. On the final lap, reigning champion and world cup leader Riiber was perfectly positioned