as Momota Kento transformed his fourth level of the sport to lose Nishimoto Kenta and gained his fifth badminton in Japan nationwide championship final month, the previous world No. 1 collapsed within the court docket of Musashino Forest Sports activities Plaza with each fists within the air.
After getting up and shouting to his NTT East colleagues within the stands, Momota, exhausted and drenched in sweat, made a vow to the gang throughout the court docket interview – a vow of resurrection.
“Persons are saying Momota’s period is over, Momota as we all know it’s gone,” he mentioned after beating his good friend and fellow 28-year-old Nishimoto in two video games.
“However I am not completed but. I need to maintain doing properly. I need to maintain exhibiting a greater, stronger Momota Kento and I am asking in your assist.”
It’s 30 December, two days earlier than the brand new 12 months which can’t come quickly sufficient for Momota. And this in the identical court docket the place on July 28, 2021, he was eradicated from the group stage of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Video gamesa humbling defeat that led to struggles to return.
A 12 months to recollect
In 2022, Momota misplaced within the first spherical of a match 5 instances, and within the second spherical twice, together with the world championships in August held in Japan.
Opponents knew they might get to Momota, and so they did. The person who as soon as gained all of it, bagging a file 11 titles in 2019, didn’t win a single trophy final season.
Per week after world championshipsMomota fell on the first hurdle of Japan Open in Osaka and he closed it on tour for the remainder of the 12 months.
Resulting from a forgettable marketing campaign, Momota misplaced to world No. 1 males’s singles rating that he held for 3 years and crashed to No. 16.
He’s not the best rating Japanese man. That distinction now goes into the longer term Naraoka Kodaiwho reached the Malaysian Open last within the inaugural BWF World Collection occasion in 2023.
There have been tears. There may be anger. There may be disappointment. Momota tries and tries and tries however nothing works.
It is an excessive amount of.
“On the World Tour, I misplaced within the first spherical a number of instances and in (Thomas and Uber Cup), I could not do my job and the workforce was disillusioned. The entire 12 months I puzzled what I used to be doing,” he recalled.
“It was a really troublesome time for me and the reality is, I did not suppose I had a shot even after I was on tour. There was part of me that did not need to compete, that was very unfavorable.” – Momota Kento
Momota nonetheless has probably the most elegant strokes and softest contact on tour, as if the racket is an extension of his arm. He waved as Merlin waved the wand.
Top-of-the-line line readers within the recreation, Momota even says it is his protection – his bread and butter – that has precipitated him issues.
“I do not suppose I can defend as shortly as I did earlier than. That is how I really feel now. I’ve to do issues like pull the opponent to the web and attempt to lob them, make it troublesome for them to return – throw It the issues I do in apply.
“I feel I defended very properly right here. Not too long ago, I needed to battle again when the tide turned in opposition to me. However this time I used to be capable of suppose and regroup if issues weren’t going properly, then begin rallies. to put on down opponents and get them to play my recreation.”
What’s to return
Momota admitted that profitable his first nationwide title in two years would not assure something, a lot much less a return to kind when he rejoined the tour on Tuesday in his 2023 debut at India Open in opposition to Denmark Rasmus Genke.
On the Japanese nationwide championships, Momota knew everybody like Nishimoto and had a psychological maintain on most of them due to his dimension. As well as, he at all times follows the gang. That does not occur abroad.
Nevertheless, Momota thinks he might have turned the nook with this nationwide efficiency. With a bent to overthink at instances, he was capable of let go and simply play within the semi-final and last.
Momota believes that aggressiveness has gained him the competitors and, if he can preserve it, will assist him return to prominence and fame this season.
However do not simply name it a comeback. He made certain to not get forward of himself – like Paris 2024, whose qualifying race begins in Might.
What awaits Momota in 2023? We’re about to seek out out.
“I am actually comfortable that I gained a match at dwelling however I nonetheless cannot visualize how I will play after I compete once more overseas. It is actually onerous to say,” he mentioned after profitable the match in Tokyo.
“However this title right this moment in all probability means greater than any title I’ve gained, simply due to every thing I’ve needed to battle and overcome to get right here.”
“To be utterly sincere, I am not wanting too far down the street. Once in a while, I ponder how for much longer I can proceed to compete.
“I need to keep concerned in badminton, assist unfold the sport and work with the juniors, the youngsters, to cross on what I do know.