Momota sizzles, Tai advances at Nanjing worlds

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Japan's Kento Momota made a blistering start to his world championships yesterday – then brushed off any talk of pressure.
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AFP

Tai Tzu-ying in action against Wendy Chen Hsuan-yu of Australia during their second-round match at the world championships in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province, yesterday. The top-seeded Chinese Taipei player had to fight hard in the second game before winning 21-10, 21-16.

Japan's Kento Momota made a blistering start to his world championships yesterday — then brushed off any talk of pressure.

The explosive 23-year-old is the man in form coming into the Nanjing showpiece and is tipped by many to win the tournament.

After swatting aside Ukraine’s Artem Pochtarov 21-13, 21-12, Momota said: “I don’t take the attention at home and abroad as pressure, but instead as motivation.”

“The first match was an easy win. I feel very good now and hope I can win all the matches. I want to win,” Xinhua news agency quoted the sixth seed as saying.

Momota plays Luka Wraber, the 136th-ranked Austrian, today.

Fifth-seeded Kidambi Srikanth of India beat Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen 21-15, 21-16.

Momota and Srikanth are now the highest remaining seeds in their half of the men’s bracket following the unexpected withdrawal of No. 2 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia and No. 4 Son Wan-ho of South Korea prior to the tournament.

Chinese Taipei’s Daren Liew prevailed in a 21-12, 21-16 upset over No. 13 seed Jonatan Christie of Indonesia.

In the women’s draw, world No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying of Chinese Taipei eased through in her opener to underline her status as the woman to beat.

The top seed was never really in trouble, except briefly in the second game, against Wendy Chen Hsuan-yu of Australia, winning 21-10, 21-16 to reach the third round.

Tai trailed 9-11 at the break in the second game before winning 12 of the next 17 points to clinch victory.

“The match was just like I had imagined. I’m satisfied with my overall performance,” the 24-year-old said.

Tai will take on Zhang Beiwen in the third round, after the American managed a 13-21, 21-18, 21-15 comeback win over Chloe Birch of England.

Tai has been dominant so far this year, with just one loss in 34 matches. She has won the Indonesia Masters, All England, Badminton Asia Championships, Malaysia Open and Indonesia Open. Her only defeat came against Thailand’s Ratchanok Intanon in the final of the Malaysia Masters in January.

Intanon survived a major scare as the fourth-seeded Thai battled back from the brink of a shock early exit.

Ratchanok, the 2013 champion and one of the favorites, looked set to go out to the unseeded Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark, before recovering her poise to gleefully reach the third round.

A lackluster Ratchanok went down 16-21 in the first game and was trailing for much of the second, losing 16-19 at one stage.

The 23-year-old appeared troubled by a right ankle or foot injury and called for her trainer as she stared defeat in the face.

But the former world No. 1 stormed back to squeeze through the second game 22-20 and then raced away in the decider 21-10 after a nervy 76 minutes of action. Intanon now takes on tenth seed and former No. 1 Saina Nehwal of India, who defeated Turkey’s Aliye Demirbag 21-17, 21-8.

Olympic champion and two-time winner Carolina Marin easily beat Ratchanok’s compatriot Busanan Ongbamrungphan 21-9, 21-8. The Spaniard will next face No. 15 seed Sayaka Sato.

The 13th-seeded Michelle Li of Canada was upset 23-21, 12-21, 21-23 by Thuy Linh Nguyen of Vietnam, who will next take on home favorite He Bingjiao, a 21-11, 21-17 winner over Hong Kong compatriot Yip Pui Yin.

In mixed doubles, top-seeded Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong of China beat Evgenij Dremin and Evgenia Dimova 21-13, 21-10.

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