Japan's Kento Momota expressed delight Saturday at reaching his first final of the year after enduring "difficult times", following a convincing victory at the Malaysia Open over Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn.

The second seed will face world number one Viktor Axelsen in Sunday's final, after the Dane defeated Indonesia's Jonatan Christie 21-15, 20-22, 21-11.

Momota's victory was a major boost following a recent run of poor form, and came in the country where a car crash more than two years ago sent his career into free fall.

He received a rapturous reception from spectators as he walked out for his semi-final in Kuala Lumpur, and Momota wasted no time in imposing himself on Kunlavut, who struggled to keep pace.

Momota needed only 42 minutes to beat the Thai player 21-11, 21-12, delivering accurate smashes coupled with precise net play.

"I just tried not to make any mistakes and move the shuttle as much as possible into the opponent's side," said Momota after his win.

"I'm so happy to reach this final after enduring so many difficult times. I will try my best for the people who have supported me throughout."

Momota was involved in a car crash that killed his driver on the way to the airport after winning the Malaysia Masters in January 2020. This year's edition of the Masters takes place next week.

It left Momota with a fractured eye socket and double vision. When he did return after a year out of action, the Japanese star was a shadow of his former self.

Momota, still ranked number two in the world, flopped at his home Tokyo Olympics last year and lost in the first round in four of the five singles tournaments he had previously entered this year.

Axelsen made his third consecutive final after a dominant display in the deciding game against Christie, securing victory in 71 minutes.

The Danish ace said he was happy to see Momota finally back in form and playing well after a torrid 18 months, but stressed he wanted to win the Malaysian title "really bad".

"I want to win every tournament I'm in, and this is just as important as the others," said Axelsen.