TOKYO Ė Japanese reigning badminton menís singles world champion Kento Momota has continued his dominant run of form this week at the Japan Open, easily advancing to the final with a 21-18, 21-11 victory on Saturday over world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.
Although the Danish player still is holding on to the top spot in the rankings, he himself has acknowledged that Momota is the best player in the world and their semifinal match at Musashino Forest Sport Plaza in this capital clearly showed that to be the case.
Axelsen came out with a different strategy to the one he employed in lopsided losses to Momota at the Thomas Cup international team competition and in the Indonesia Open final earlier this year.
Known for his steep, powerful smashes, the 1.94-meter (6-foot-4) Axelsen played much more conservatively in the first game and engaged Momota in a series of grueling rallies, some of them lasting more than 50 shots.
The strategy appeared to catch Momota off-guard, with the Dane taking a 17-13 lead when the Japanese star punched a backhand drive over the back boundary line.
But the world No. 4 then started eliminating his mistakes and proceeded to win 11 of 12 points spanning the end of the first game and the start of the second.
Axelsen tried to step up his attacking game later in the contest but lacked the precision necessary to bother Momota, who easily retrieved everything the Dane threw at him and used his all-court wizardry to dominate down the stretch.
The Japanese player will be the big favorite in Sundayís final of this BWF World Tour Super 750 event against Thailandís Khosit Phetpradab, a relatively unknown who has quietly climbed the rankings and currently sits at No. 26.
Phetpradab stunned Chinaís Shi Yuqi, the No. 2 seed and menís singles runner-up to Momota at this yearís Badminton World Championships, 21-18, 24-22 in the first round.
He followed that up with a 21-19, 24-22 win over two-time world champion and reigning Olympic gold medalist Chen Long of China in the quarterfinals and then easily defeated South Koreaís Lee Dong-keun 21-12, 21-16 in Saturdayís second menís singles semifinal.