Momota writes badminton history as Asians make clean sweep of All England titles
****Image Credit: BWF & Raphael Sachetat
When Kento Momota battled to a three-game victory over Denmark's Viktor Axelsen in the men's singles final at Arena Birmingham on Sunday night he also wrote badminton history in the process.
Momota became the first Japanese man to win the prestigious All England men's singles title in the history of the oldest badminton tournament in the world. All England is 109 years old this year.
The 24-year-old Momota, the reigning world champion, and world No 1 defeated the lanky Dane 21-11, 15-21, 21-15 in a pulsating 81-minute final in the last final of the day as Asian shuttlers made a clean sweep of all the five titles at stake.
"This is the tournament everyone wants to win.
I am happy that I wrote history as the first male player from Japan to win the singles title," said a jubilant Momota.
"I felt the pressure in the final but with everyone's support, it eased the pressure.
Viktor is a good rival and I hope we will keep each other improving their respective badminton careers.
Momota was playing in his 26th international final and Axelsen was the only European who could have spoilt the party for the Asians.
However, Momota rose to the occasion as Asian ruled the Arena in Birmingham.
Earlier in the women's singles final world No 1 Tai Tzu Ying's hopes of winning the title for the third successive year ended in a shock defeat.
The two-time 24-year-old defending champion from Chinese Taipei was beaten 17-21, 17-21 by China's 21-year-old Chen Yufei in 41 minutes.
"I am over excited. It is an awesome break for my badminton career.
I am proud to win this title for my national team and all those who have supported me," said Yufei.
Indonesian veterans Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan used their experience to regain the men's doubles title they last won in 2014.
Ahsan, 31 and Hendra, 34, came back from a game down to beat the young Malaysian pair of Aaron Chia, 22 and 21-year-old Soh Wooi Yik, 11-21, 21-14, 21-12 in the 41-minute final.
Hendra played with an injured right calf he sustained in the semi-finals while playing against Japan's Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda. However, Hendra did enough on the court for the win.
"I did not think about my injury as I was just focused on the match (final)," said Hendra.
Japan was on the losing end in two other finals - the women's doubles and the mixed doubles.
In the women's doubles world champions Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara failed to ride on their momentum after winning the first game 21-18 against China's Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifah. The Chinese took the next two games at 22-20, 21-11 in the 82-minute battle.
"It is amazing to win against the world champions. It is a huge break for us and we had the right mentality to face our opponents in the final," said Yifan.
In the mixed doubles defending champions, Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino failed to retain their title as the pair went down 17-21, 20-22 to China's world No 1 and top seeds Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong.
RESULTS (All Finals)
Kento Momota (JPN) beat Viktor Axelsen (DEN) 21-11, 15-21, 21-15
Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (INA) beat Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (MAS) 11-21, 21-14, 21-12
Chen Yufei (CHN) beat Tai Tzu Ying (TPE) 21-17, 21-17
Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifah (CHN) beat Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (JPN) 18-21, 22-20, 21-11
Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong (CHN) beat Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (JPN) 21-17, 22-20