KUALA LUMPUR: Japanese star Kento Momota's first trip to Kuala Lumpur, nearly 36 months after a tragic road accident here, has been a pleasant one so far.
The 27-year-old two-time world champion advanced into the last four of the Malaysia Open today after his injured Indonesian opponent, Shesar Hiren Rhustavito, conceded the match.
Momota was leading 13-6 when world No 26 Shesar badly twisted his right ankle and subsequently retired after a medical timeout.
Lady Luck seemed to be smiling on Momota right from the start as he had also received a walkover from Thailand's Kantaphon Wangcharoen in Wednesday's first round.
Could this be the much-needed turning point for Momota to revive his fortunes? He has been struggling since the start of the year, losing in the first round in four of his five Open tournaments, sparking debates that his days are numbered.
Even Momota, himself, admitted that he has lost his confidence when asked to comment on his recent poor run of form.
"Honestly speaking, I don't have the confidence stepping into the court," said Momota.
"So, to be able to make the Malaysia Open semi-finals this week, it does give me a massive confidence boost. I hope to keep this run going and into the final."
The last time Momota visited Kuala Lumpur, in January, 2020, he was in the form of his life and beat the now world No 1 Viktor Axelsen for the Malaysia Masters title.
Sadly, hours after his triumph, Momota sustained injuries in a road accident on the MEX highway when on his way to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Their vehicle rammed into a lorry, killing the driver on the spot.
Commenting on the ongoing Malaysia Open, he said: "I feel really encouraged by all the cheering from the crowd. It really helped to bring the best out of me."
Momota, who will face Thai ace Kunlavut Vitidsarn in tomorrow's semi-finals, finished runner-up to Lee Chong Wei in 2018.
"Kunlavut is a very strong opponent. I see him as the No 1 player of the current young generation," said Momota
Men's singles - Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Anthony Ginting (Ina) 18-21, 21-17, 21-12; Jonatan Christie (Ina) bt H.S. Prannoy (Ind) 21-18, 21-16; Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) bt Lu Guang Zu (Chn) 15-21, 21-10, 21-17; Kento Momota (Jpn) bt Shesar Hiren Rhustavito (Ina) 13-6, rtd
Women' singles - Wang Zhi Yi (Chn) bt Line Kjaersfeldt (Den) 9-21, 21-10, 21-17; Ratchanok Intanon (Tha) bt Han Yue (Chn) 22-20, 21-12; Chen Yu Fei (Chn) bt Nozomi Okuhara (Jpn) 14-21, 21-18, 21-18; Tai Tzu Ying (Tpe) bt P.V. Sindhu (Ind) 13-21, 21-15, 21-13
Men's doubles - Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani (Mas) bt Liu Yu Chen-Ou Xuan Yi (Chn) 21-11, 22-20; Fajar Alfian-Muhammad Rian Ardianto (Ina) bt Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (Mas) 21-13, 21-9; Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (Mas) bt Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan (Ina) 21-13, 20-22, 21-19; Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi (Jpn) bt Choi Sol Gyu-Kim Won Ho (Kor) 21-14, 21-23, 21-14
Women's doubles - Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Ramadhanti (Ina) bt Chen Qing Chen-Jia Yi Fan (Chn) 14-21, 21-13, 21-16; Jeong Na Eun-Kim Hye Jeong (Kor) bt Du Yue-Li Wen Mei (Chn) 21-13, 21-15; Zhang Shu Xian-Zheng Yu (Chn) bt Febby Gan-Ribka Sugiarto (Ina) 21-13, 21-14; Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn) bt Anna Cheong-Teoh Mei Xing (Mas) 21-15, 23-21
Mixed doubles - Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) bt Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg) 21-13, 21-14; Wang Yi Lyu-Huang Dong Ping (Chn) bt Kim Won Ho-Jeong Na Eun (Kor) 21-8, 21-16; Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje (Den) bt Robin Tabeling-Selena Piek (Ned) 21-19, 21-12; Zheng Si Wei-Huang Ya Qiong (Chn) bt Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (Fra) 25-23, 22-20