Aware that he was trapped, unable to get any openings in his exchanges with Kento Momota, the desperation showed in misfired smashes and imprecise net shots. Just 37 minutes after it started, the match ended in perhaps the most lop-sided men’s singles final in the history of the World Championships, 21-9 21-3 to defending champion Kento Momota.
Few would have anticipated the course the match took, not least because their last clash in a final, at the Indonesia Masters, had unfolded in an Antonsen tactical masterclass.
Today was different. The Dane would later say he’d woken up physically under par, feeling the match wouldn’t go his way. He started out well enough to generate some buzz in the crowd, with his sharp smashes finding their mark.
It was a tactically different approach to what had worked for him in Indonesia, for Antonsen had then relied on keeping the shuttle deep and challenging Momota to come up with the answers. Today, given the way he was feeling physically, he admitted that the attacking start was his only option, for he couldn’t last in a long battle.
The game turned turtle once Momota fine-tuned his radar; Antonsen’s missiles were intercepted and put away. From 2-6 down, the Japanese picked points at will, winning 19 of the next 22 points.
The second game was worse for Antonsen; the Dane was allowed just three.
“Honestly, I was super super tired,” rued Antonsen. “I felt when I woke up this morning how it ended up playing out, I had that fear in my mind that it could end like this. I was trying my best, in the beginning he made some mistakes and I thought I had a chance, but once he got started, he played good quality and I was too tired to do anything. It was no fun to lose a match that way.
“This was different from the Indonesia Masters. I felt better back then. Some of the rallies in the beginning was pretty much like in Indonesia. But I was in better physical condition. Today I was too tired and he was too good.
“I’ve proven that I’m heading in the right direction. I came with the goal to win a medal and I did so. I’m proud of the silver medal.”
The champion relished the feeling of his second world title: “I came here wanting to win this, and I had the confidence that I would do well, but I’m still happy that I managed to take the title. I trained a lot for this; the competition was always on my mind. I played at a consistently high level.
“Last year, I won due to my strong defence, but this time I tried to improve my attack and front court game. But I cannot stick to my current style, for my opponents will start reading me, so I have to work on other areas.”
Highlights | 🇯🇵 @momota_kento joins Yang Yang, Lin Dan and Chen Long as the fourth man in history to retain World Championships title 🏆
— BWF (@bwfmedia) August 25, 2019