Momota survives to close on 10th badminton title of 2019

Kento Momota of Japan hits a return against Viktor Axelsen of Denmark during their men's singles quarterfinal match at the Fuzhou China Open badminton tournament in Fuzhou in China's eastern Fujian province on Friday. — AFP

SHANGHAI — Defending champion and world No. 1 Kento Momota battled past former No. 1 Viktor Axelsen to reach the Fuzhou China Open semifinals on Friday.

The 25-year-old Japanese player, who is chasing a 10th title of 2019, suffered a second-game wobble before winning 21-18, 12-21, 21-16 in their quarterfinal.

Momota will play Axelsen's fellow Dane Rasmus Gemke or Hong Kong's Angus Ng Ka-long in the last four on Saturday.

Victory for the all-action player, the reigning two-time world champion, was his 13th in 15 matches against Axelsen, now ranked sixth in the world.

In the women's draw, world number one Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan faces Japan's world No. 2 Nozomi Okuhara in the semifinals.

Tai was forced to fight for her spot in the last four, defeating unseeded Kim Ga-Eun of South Korea 21-15, 11-21, 21-13. — AFP