Hard-working Momota into Hong Kong semis

Kento Momota knocked out Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie, while Tai Tzu Ying sent Carolina Marin packing in the evening session.

Kento Momota will play Son Wan-ho in the semifinals.   -  AFP

Top-ranked Kento Momota knocked out Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie to reach the Hong Kong Open semifinals on Friday after being stretched to three games for the third match in a row.

The reigning world champion found extra reserves of strength for his 22-24, 21-9, 21-9 win over Indonesia's Christie, who fell away after winning a close first game.

“I want to play for the spectators,” said Japan's Momota, who beat Chinese great Lin Dan in the first round and also went the distance with countryman Kanta Tsuneyama on Thursday.

“I can't show a cool performance. My play is not spectacular, but I want to show my hard-working attitude.”

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The Japanese star started slowly before igniting his challenge by winning a lightning-quick rally at the net, clawing back to within three points of Cristie at 17-20.

Momota won four of the next five points before conceding the game, but the Indonesian's confidence was shaken.

Christie quickly fell behind in the second game after some misjudged taps into the net, before overcompensating on his forehand and sending several shots wide.

The top seed was dominating by the time the second game was over, and he wrapped up the decider in 15 minutes.

“Since (Christie) looked exhausted, I focused on my footwork,” he told reporters.

Momota will next face sixth seed Son Wan-ho, who beat fellow South Korean Lee Dong-keun 21-16, 21-14.

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Japanese players fared well elsewhere in the tournament, with eighth seed Kenta Nishimoto building early leads to win 21-17, 21-13 against Kidambi Srikanth, a loss the Indian blamed on poor fitness.

Seventh seed Nozomi Okuhara progressed in the women's tournament but Akane Yamaguchi was sent home by former world champion Ratchanok Intanon.

Intanon slipped for a moment in the closing minutes of the 21-9, 21-16 showdown but had already built an unassailable lead.

“I think it was tough for me. She has a good standard. But I just tried to play the way I wanted to play and take her to play my games,” the Thai told AFP.

— Marin sent packing —

Tai Tzu Ying looks a strong chance to win her third consecutive Hong Kong tournament after sending Carolina Marin packing in the evening session 18-21, 21-9, 21-14.

Marin took the lead midway through the first game by tempering her usual combative style, confounding the Taiwanese player with some masterful feints at the net.

Tai responded by upping her own aggression, sealing a 5-0 lead after the interval with a bold drop shot.

A short serve from Marin at 16-4 snapped the Spaniard back into focus, but too late to gain the upper hand in her sixth straight loss to the world number one.

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Eighth-ranked He Bingjiao was the last Chinese player to crash out of the singles draw after retiring in her second game against Sung Ji-hyun, who beat India's P.V. Sindhu on Thursday.

Du Yue and Li Yinhui seventh-ranked Koreans Lee So-hee and Shin Seung-Chan turned the tables on Thai duo Puttita Supajirakul and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, fending off a late-match fightback to progress 13-21, 21-17, 21-18.

Taerattanachai returned in the evening to advance with Dechapol Puavaranukroh over their Indonesian challengers in the mixed draw.

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