Korean Son Wan Ho won his first win at Kento Momota in three years to reach his first final in almost two years, the Hong Kong Open.
From Don Hearn. Photos: Raphael Sachetat / Badmintonphoto (live)
Son Wan Ho (pictured) could have spent several weeks as the first # 1 world leader in the world last year, but it was a consolation when he was unable to win the title and even reach the finals all year long. This weekend in Hong Kong he has finished so long and will try to win even more, winning the title, because he has not won even one at this level since 2014 China Open.
He was still quite consistent, reaching the semi-finals of 7 Superseries and finishing at the top of the table, but again he was unable to reach Sunday in Dubai, losing to Lee Chong Wei in the semi-final after defeating him in the group stage. His misfortunes continued in 2018, when he began two more promising semi-final appearances, but then he suffered injury, which resulted in him winning two tournaments with big money and then keeping him at home from the World Cup.
On Saturday in Hong Kong Son Wan Ho remained stable during his 90-minute battle Kento Momota (in the picture below), even if the current world # 1 had variable energy and consistency. Momota seemed to struggle with stamina after three straight days of 3-player battles, but he still came up with high-quality answers that made it seem like the Son was lucky enough to be able to force a decisive game.
In the third part of the game Son seemed able to dictate rallies and move the opponent anywhere, but his attacks were still met with impossibly tight answers and he was unable to break away. In the second part of the game it seemed that Momota had a second wind, and the Korean was under pressure. But Son responded with constant patient play, and some perfectly targeted attacks enabled him to get the first point and ended the game at the first opportunity.
His opponent in the final will be Kenta Nishimoto. Nishimoto, who kept his son out of the medals during the Asian Games last summer, removed the last shuttler from Hong Kong, defeating Lee Cheuk Yiu in simple matches. The winner will get a seat in the World Tour finals in Guangzhou, and the loser will go to the season, unless Sameer Verma wins the next week Syed Modi Super 300.
Native compatriot Sung Ji Hyun was unable to perform a similar feat Ratchanok Intanon (pictured on the right). Thai repeatedly allowed Sungowi to return to the decisive game after building promising leads, but after 17-all, he prepared 4 points points to take part in the match and reserve his place in the final. Intanon will be against the Japanese Nozomi Okuharze, who was promoted when Tai Tzu Ying, who was best seeded, withdrew from the game at the beginning of the game.
Two titles in Korean will still be available on Sunday. Lee So Hee and Shin Seung Chan (pictured below) they converted their third straight semi-final appearance to their second final, defeating the Japanese Tanaka / Yonemoto duel. After defeating the world champions last weekend, they will try to demand nervousness against the world # 1 Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota. The Japanese pair defeated India Polii / Rahayu, but the last two matches from their 105-minute marathon had a fairly one-sided point line.
Japan will be looking for the title on Sunday in Hong Kong. While their master All England in hand, Watanabe / Higashino won the semi-final as expected, Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda (pictured on the left) had a much more difficult task with the silver medalists of the Asian Games Fajar Alfian / Muhammad Rian Ardianto. Their victory meant that the Indonesians did not set the all-Indonesian final and remained in the race to Guangzhou. In this situation, the Japanese couple will still need a title in Hong Kong to overtake 3 pairs, which all have a chance to accumulate more points next week in India.
For Japanese sweep, male and mixed debates are major challenges. Of course, Kamura / Sonoda has already done it, but world # 1 Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo are now in their fourth final and are looking for their ninth title of the champion of the year. This week they did not look so convincing, perhaps pushed into 3 games by 3 different pairs of aging veterans, but they will be the hard favorites in the final.
In mixed doubles, the Japanese couple will look for their first win in 6 attempts against world # 2 by Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping. World Cup winners defeated Thailand Puavaranukroh / Taerattanachi on Saturday and will try their best to take advantage of the chance for the final without family co-founders in the world, which may be their second title in the year.
The final composition
WD: Yuki Fukushima / Sayaka Hirota (JPN)  Vs. Lee So Hee / Shin Seung Chan (KOR) WS: Ratchanok Intanon (THA)  Vs. Nozomi Okuhara (JPN) MS: Son Wan Ho (KOR)  Vs. Kenta Nishimoto (JPN) XD: Wang Yilyu / Huang Dongping (CHN)  Vs. Yuta Watanabe / Arisa Higashino (JPN) MD: Marcus Fernaldi Gideon / Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo (INA)  Vs. Takeshi Kamura / Keigo Sonoda (JPN) 
Click here for full semi-final results