- Kento Momota said he would calm down after being pumped up by his fans during his first-round win at the world championships.
- Dane Viktor Axelsen and third-seeded Anders Antonsen were both knocked out.
Showboating Kento Momota, a badminton star from Japan, said he would calm down after being pumped up by his fans during his first-round win at the world championships on Monday in Tokyo.
Since he was badly hurt in a car accident more than two years ago, the second-seeded Momota’s career has been in free fall. However, during a 21-16, 21-14 win over Mexico’s Lino Munoz, he looked like he was back in top form.
Momota got out to an early lead and seemed to be enjoying the cheers of the Tokyo crowd until world number 82 Munoz started to get back into the match.
Momota said that he had tried “a little too much” to show the crowd what he could do and promised to “calm down” in his next match.
“I scored a point and I heard a little girl behind me shout out ‘brilliant,’” said a sheepish Momota after the match.
“I heard that and thought I wanted to do it again, but then I ended up giving away the next point. Next time I’ll try and keep my cool.”
Momota and top-seeded Dane Viktor Axelsen both moved on to the next round, but third-seeded Anders Antonsen was knocked out at the first hurdle.
The 2019 world silver medalist fell behind early and never caught up, losing to Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto 21-15 and 21-19.
Antonsen, who is 25 years old, was playing his first competitive match in three months after pulling a muscle in his abdomen. He said it “felt a bit strange just to suddenly be on court again”.
“I felt like I played better and better and it was a shame that I didn’t make the comeback in the second game, I was so close,” said Antonsen, who had fended off four match points.
“It’s my first match in a long time so I just need to get back to competition. Today was the beginning.”
With an easy 21-16, 21-12 win over Malaysia’s Daren Liew, Axelsen lived up to his reputation as the best player in the world.
Axelsen was happy to get past the world number 29 without getting hurt.
“Every first round is always tricky. Daren is an experienced opponent, he’s a really good player when he plays well,” said Axelsen.
“I really had to step up in big parts of the game today and I’m really happy about how I managed to deal with everything.”
Shi Yuqi of China came back to play after being banned for 10 months and beat Ade Resky Dwicahyo of Azerbaijan 22-20, 21-10.
Shi was in the finals of the world championships in 2018. He quit a match against Momota in 2021, and the Chinese Badminton Association banned him for making “inappropriate comments” about it.
He said he “felt a bit nervous” as he entered the court to face Dwicahyo but “felt good to be playing again” once he had settled into the match.
“It definitely feels a lot different,” said the 26-year-old.
“When you’re playing in training it’s a lot different from playing tournaments.”
Defending champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore also made it to the next round by beating Pablo Abian of Spain 21-12, 21-12.
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