Momota eyes third badminton world title
Japan’s Momota, once the sport’s undisputed king, has seen his career descend into free fall since a car crash more than two years ago which left him badly hurt.
The 27-year-old has been in dismal form this year, losing in the first round of four of the seven singles tournaments he has entered.
But he is hoping that home support in Tokyo can help him upset the odds and claim a third title when the world championships begin today.
“I’m not feeling so bad in practice but I’m not managing to perform in games so there is still a lot of unease,” Momota told reporters, adding that his confidence is returning “little by little.”
“It’s been a long time since I played in front of Japanese fans and I want to feel their support and enjoy playing in front of them.”
Momota’s world was turned upside down in January 2020 when the vehicle taking him to Kuala Lumpur airport crashed hours after he won the Malaysia Masters, killing the driver and leaving the player with a fractured eye socket.
He has been a shadow of his imperious former self since then and he said yesterday that his goal is to “focus on myself and play my best.”
“I’m feeling not so bad, although there is still a little bit of tiredness there,” he said.
“I need to listen to my body when I go into games.”
Momota is now ranked number two in the world having been replaced at the top by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen.
Olympic champion Axelsen will be the hot favourite to capture a second world title in Tokyo, having lost only one men’s singles match on court on tour this season.