Kento Momota will be eyeing glory in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after been banned for one year which forced him to miss the 2016 Rio Games. (Image credit: Twitter)
Top-ranked Kento Momota of Japan clinched the men's singles title at the Korea Open badminton tournament on Sunday with a win over number two Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan. The 25-year-old downed Chou 21-19, 21-17 in a final that lasted 53 minutes. Momota, with over 300 wins under his belt, saw his career descend into controversy in 2016 when he was suspended for more than a year for visiting an illegal casino and was denied a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Japanese star, who was world number two at the time, has since worked his way back to the top and Sunday's win raises his Olympic hopes a year ahead of the Tokyo Games. In the women's final, China's He Bingjiao defeated Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand 18-21, 24-22, 21-17.
South Korea dominated the women's doubles, with Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong beating compatriots Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-chan 13-21, 21-19, 21-17. Indonesian pair Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto defeated Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda of Japan 21-16, 21-17 to clinch the men's doubles title.
Parupalli Kashyap, the lone Indian left in the BWF Korea Open, had lost in the semi-final of the tournament in Incheon to Momota. Momota, who has a 2-0 head-to-head advantage against Kashyap, won 21-13, 21-15 and entered the final. Kashyap had played some good badminton in the tournament and with his loss, India's challenge has ended after B Sai Praneeth, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal were all eliminated early. Kashyap was already under pressure as Momota took a significant lead and the Indian never bounced back.
The 2014 Commonwealth Games gold-medallist, who was promoted from the qualifying round, had last played Momota four years ago at the Indonesia Open. Kashyap had a 0-2 record against the Japanese prior to Saturday's encounter. The 33-year-old from Hyderabad, who had reached the finals at Canada Open this year, showed the intent to hang in the rallies as the duo played a lot of tosses and lifts. However, Kashyap had no answers to Momota's precision as the Japanese opened up a 9-5 lead early on. A deceptive return and a body smash gave the Indian a couple of points before the Japanese entered the break with a four-point advantage after a long rally.