A year after he crashed out in the group stage of Tokyo 2020, Momota looked forlorn as HS Prannoy closed out an efficient 21-17 21-16 result in the second round, cutting off any chance of the two-time world champion reclaiming glory in front of his home audience.
The Indian world No.18 put in the attacking bursts at the right moments to draw ahead of Momota for his first win in nine matches, and then commiserated with the plight of the former world champion.
“He’s not at his best. But a win is a win for me and playing one more round at a tournament is what I would like to do,” said Prannoy, himself a veteran of comebacks from injury at various stages in his career.
“I think he looks a bit more tentative,” Prannoy continued. “There’s a lot of change in the way he’s been playing. Back then, the defence was much more solid. Probably now, people have started to read his game in a different way. But I think there has been a bit of difference in his game style, his movement and approach to the game – it’s changed quite a lot. That happens to each and every player out there. They have their phases.
“Probably he’s tentative, especially after the (accident) break. I’ve had tons of injuries and coming back after injury you’re always tentative. And if you start losing in the first round, things become even more tough. So there needs to be a constant graph, which is going up where you’re playing quarters, semis, and then things get back to normal. Otherwise, there’s always doubt, and badminton is a confidence game. Once you’re confident things start to fall in place and you don’t have to think twice about doing something.”