Guangzhou (China), Dec 12 (IANS) Japan’s Kento Momota, the World No.1 in men’s singles, kicked off his quest for a second title at this elite year-end badminton World Tour Finals with a routine 21-18, 21-6 victory here Wednesday over India’s Sameer Verma.
Momota seemed to have everything under control when he grabbed an 11-4 lead at the first mid-game interval and then stretched that advantage to 17-9, reports Efe.
But the 2018 world champion’s intensity dipped slightly at that juncture, allowing Verma to start finding some space for overhead drop shot winners.
The deficit was too big though against a player of the caliber of Momota, who finally wrapped up the first game on his fourth game point when the 14th-ranked Verma was handcuffed by a smash.
The Japanese reigning world champion also raced out to an 11-4 lead at the second mid-game interval but this time kept his foot on the pedal to comfortably wrap up the match in just 35 minutes.
The 24-year-old Japanese star, who was suspended for just over a year by the Nippon Badminton Association (and missed the Rio Olympics) after admitting in early 2016 that he had visited an illegal casino in his homeland, has dominated the BWF World Tour since his surprise victory at the Badminton Asia Championships in April.
He is back at the BWF World Tour Finals, which is not as prestigious as the BWF World Championships but is the biggest tournament of the year in terms of prize money, for the first time since winning the title in 2015.
Momota is in Group B along with Verma, Indonesian world No. 10 Tommy Sugiarto and 16th-ranked Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand, while Chinese world No. 2 Shi Yuqi heads a four-player Group A that also includes world No. 3 Chou Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei, world No. 6 Son Wan-ho of South Korea and world No. 7 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia.
The seedings for this year-end event are based on the Race to Guangzhou standings, which are separate from the world rankings.
The top two players from the two groups will qualify for the semi-finals.