Malaysia Open: Momota receives boost from spectators at Axiata Arena

Japan’s Kento Momota hits a return against Indonesia’s Rhustavito Shesar Hiren during their men’s singles quarter-finals at the Malaysia Open badminton tournament in Kuala Lumpur, July 1, 2022. — AFP pic

Friday, 01 Jul 2022 11:26 PM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — ‘Momota! Momota! Momota!’ — went the crowd as the world’s number two singles shuttler from Japan, Kento Momota stepped onto the court at the Axiata Arena in the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open today.

The non-stop chants from the spectators made it seem like he was playing on home ground in Tokyo.

Momota’s every move, including when doing a light exercise before the match against Indonesia’s Shesar Hiren Rhustavito drew cheers from the crowd.

Buoyed by the vibrant atmosphere, Momota got off to a fierce start, taking a comfortable 13-6 lead.

But the match was cut short as Rhustavito had to pull out following a calf injury, giving a walkover to Momota to face Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn in the semi-finals.

When met after the match, Momota said the strong support of the audience here had inspired him to put on his best performance today.

“Malaysian fans were really helpful to me, their support really encouraged me to give my best on the court, I hope the support remains up until the final, if I manage to reach it,” he said with the help of a translator.

The 27-year-old admitted that his confidence level was not at its best prior to the tournament but his feat of advancing to the semi-finals had upped his motivation to reach the finals.

Meanwhile, Rhustavito’s coach, Irwansyah, said it was still too early to assess the seriousness of the injury sustained by the player. — Bernama