Japan’s back-to-back world champion Kento Momota started the year of his home Olympic 2020 with a tournament win as he took the Badminton World Federation Malaysia Masters title today.

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The world number one is a huge home hope for gold at Olympic 2020 and will be looking for improvement in the Japanese capital after he was banned from Rio 2016 for illegal gambling. Momota won the World Tour Finals in December at the conclusion of the 2019 season and defeated Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 24-22, 21-11 today to win the first event of the new campaign in Kuala Lumpur.

There was a difference in the first game at Axiata Arena, however, as a fifth seed, Axelsen thought he had taken it after smashing the first of two-game points past Momota. The umpire ruled a fault, however, and with Dane’s celebrations cut short, the top seed was able to recover.

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Momota said “I’m pleased to have won the first tournament this year. We know each other’s game and I had to be careful. He was playing really well and had a lead. I thought I had even lost it before the umpire ruled a fault.”

The women’s final was a battle between the top two seeds and it went to the lower-ranked player as China’s Chen Yufei beat Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu-Ying 21-17, 21-10. Chen, the World Tour Finals winner, has now won her last nine finals in a row.

In the men’s doubles, South Korea’s qualifiers Kim Gi-Jung and Lee Yong-Dae completed a superb run by winning the whole tournament. Lee won Olympic mixed doubles gold with Lee Hyo-Jung at Beijing 2008 and came through 21-14, 21-16 with his partner against China’s third seeds Li Junhui and Liu Yuchen, the 2018 world champions. China was able to win both the women’s and mixed doubles titles at the Super 500 event

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