Momota can’t afford below-par display in Sudirman Cup

PETALING JAYA: Kento Momota’s reign as the world No. 1 will be under threat at the Sudirman Cup from Sept 26-Oct 3 in Vantaa, Finland.

Despite not having a good run since making a comeback to competition this year, the former men’s singles world champion has been holding on to the top spot for almost three years, since Sept 20, 2018.

The 27-year-old returned to tournament action after a year’s break at this year’s All-England but lost to Lee Zii Jia in the quarter-finals.

He was expected to bring glory at home at the Tokyo Olympic Games but the top seed wilted under pressure and failed to clear the group stage.

In the Sudirman Cup, Momota will lead the Japan team but his reign as the No. 1 can end if he continues to play below par.

The player who is snapping at his heels as the world No. 2 is reigning Olympics champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark.

If Viktor wins all his matches as the top singles player for the Danes in the world mixed team and Momota loses all, the Dane could emerge as the new world No. 1 player.

The other top men’s singles players who will be in action in Finland are Anthony Ginting from Indonesia, Zii Jia, Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan, South Korean Heo Kwang-hee, who upset Momota in the Olympics, and China’s Shi Yuqi, who will be playing a leading role in the absence of Tokyo Olympic Games silver medallist Chen Long.