HONG KONG (AFP) – Top ranked Kento Momota was sent to the semi-finals at the Hong Kong Open on Saturday (November 17) after losing a stunning semi-final to South Korean son Wan-ho.
Son won 18-21, 21-16, 21-19 in a tiring 89 minutes – the tournament's longest match so far – after seeing a late push from a tired Japanese star in the deciding set.
Momota took the lead through the first game but slipped long enough for his opponents to level 17-all after conceding six points in a row.
He maintained his lead after the break before Son broke his serve on 12-11 with a gravity free kick after getting a tap on the net.
Momota was equated with a backhand after bouncing back from his prone position following a tripping but could not stop the sixth seed from powering ahead.
Son leads through most of the third game but Momota stays on his heels, drawing level five times before a painful loss on match point.
Momota has been in a stinging form since returning to sports after a gambling scandal saw him slap with a 12-month ban.
But the 24-year-old has a slow run through the Hong Kong tournament. He beat Chinese Lin Dan in the first round but complained of fatigue after his first three games all went to three matches.
Son, 30, qualified for the final of his first single since his victory at the 2016 Korea Masters.
In the women's singles, Ratchanok Intanon bounced back from the first match to win the match against South Korea, Sung Ji-hyun 10-21, 21-11, 21-17.
The former world champion held out well from his opponents through the second match as Sung struggled to chase third, leveling at 12 and 15 before giving in to Inter Inanon's powerful attack.
Another tie at the age of 17 was enough to focus Thailand, who swept past four points from the deciding set.
"Sometimes I play slowly but it's not like I don't have strength," he said after that.
"Mentality is more important … Sometimes it's not my game, but I try to enjoy the game more. Today I feel like I'm controlling pressure." Sung's tenth rank has a strong run through the tournament, defeating superior P.V opponents. Sindhu from India and China He Bingjao.
Ratchanok, who topped second place Akane Yamaguchi 21-9, 21-16 in the quarter-finals, will face world number one Taiwan Tai Tzu-ying or Nozomi Okuhara of Japan on Sunday.