Hong Kong Open: Top-seed Kento Momota survives early scare against Jonatan Cristie to reach semi-final
The top seed Kento Momota was dominating the match by the time the second game was over, and he wrapped up the decider in 15 minutes, to enter the semi-finals.
Hong Kong: Top-ranked Kento Momota knocked out Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie to reach the Hong Kong Open semi-finals on Friday after being stretched to three games for the third match in a row.
The reigning world champion found extra reserves of strength for his 22-24, 21-9, 21-9 win over Indonesia's Christie, who fell away after winning a close first game.
"I want to play for the spectators," said Japan's Momota, who beat Chinese great Lin Dan in the first round and also went the distance with countryman Kanta Tsuneyama on Thursday.
"I can't show a cool performance. My play is not spectacular, but I want to show my hard-working attitude," he added. The Japanese star started slowly before igniting his challenge by winning a lightning-quick rally at the net, clawing back to within three points of Cristie at 17-20.
Momota won four of the next five points before conceding the game, but the Indonesian's confidence was shaken. Christie quickly fell behind in the second game after some misjudged taps into the net, before overcompensating on his forehand and sending several shots wide.
The top seed was dominating by the time the second game was over, and he wrapped up the decider in 15 minutes. "Since (Christie) looked exhausted, I focused on my footwork," he told reporters.
Momota will next face sixth seed Son Wan-ho, who beat fellow South Korean Lee Dong-keun 21-16, 21-14.
Japanese players fared well elsewhere in the tournament, with eighth seed Kenta Nishimoto building early leads to win 21-17, 21-13 against Kidambi Srikanth, a loss the Indian blamed on poor fitness.
But second-ranked Akane Yamaguchi was sent home from the women's tournament by former world champion Ratchanok Intanon, who slipped in the closing minutes of the 21-9, 21-16 showdown after building an unshakeable lead.
"I think it was tough for me. She has a good standard," the Thai told AFP, adding, "but I just tried to play the way I wanted to play and take her to play my games."
Women's world number eight He Bingjiao was the last Chinese player to crash out of the singles draw after retiring in her second game against Sung Ji-hyun, who beat India's PV Sindhu on Thursday.
In the women's doubles, seventh-ranked Koreans Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-Chan turned the tables on Thai duo Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, fending off a late-match fightback to progress 13-21, 21-17, 21-18.
Denmark Open also restarts the BWF World Tour following a suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A struggling Kidambi Srikanth was outplayed by his world number 2 opponent and Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Viktor Axelsen, who won the first match 21-12, 21-13 in 38 minutes.
Sindhu just couldn't find a way across the attacking game of An Seyoung, who was always a step ahead during the contest.