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November 13, 2019

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Momota in shock withdrawal from Hong Kong Open

World No. 1 Kento Momota unexpectedly withdrew from the Hong Kong Open yesterday — without playing a match — leaving Indian challenger Kidambi Srikanth to advance to the second round.

The shock decision comes only a few days after the 24-year-old beat Chinese Taipei’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen to claim his 10th title of the year at the Fuzhou China Open, seemingly on an unstoppable path to 2020 Olympic glory.

Momota and Srikanth — who have played each other 15 times, with the Japanese player winning 12 matches — were set to clash today, but there was no indication why top seed had withdrawn from his first match.

Srikanth will now face either compatriot Sourabh Verma or Frenchman Brice Leverdez to reach the quarterfinal.

Momota, with over 300 wins under his belt, saw his career descend into controversy in 2016 when he was suspended for more than a year for visiting an illegal casino and was denied a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The star, who was world No. 2 at the time, has since worked his way back to the top and his win in China had raised his Olympic hopes a year ahead of the Tokyo Games.

Earlier, the Hong Kong Open began despite fresh protests across the financial hub with a number of the Chinese city’s players qualifying for the main draw.

The BWF Super 500 event had been thrown into doubt due to the protests.

Cheung Ying Mei was up at dawn to battle traffic to get to the Hong Kong Coliseum venue on time, but it was worth it after her 21-10, 20-22, 21-19 win against Indonesia’s Lyanny Alessandra Mainaky.

Cheung will face Denmark’s Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt in the women’s singles first round today.

Hong Kong mixed doubles pair Ng Tsz Yau and Yeung Ming Nok had a bitter-sweet win over compatriots Yeung Shing Choi and Ka Yan Fan 21-14, 21-13.

Yeung teamed up with Chang Tak Ching in the men’s doubles to beat Chinese Taipei’s Chang Ko-chi and Lu Chia-pin 21-18, 21-17. The duo next faces China’s Ou Xuanyi and Zhang Nan in the first round.


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