Kento's comeback halted by All England Open quarter-final exit

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FILE PHOTO: 2019 Badminton World Championships

(Reuters) - Badminton world number one Kento Momota's return to elite-level competition following a year-long absence was halted on Friday after he was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the All England Open by Lee Zii Jia.

Japanese shuttler Momota, who was playing in his first BWF world tour event since being in a car crash in January 2020, lost 21-16 21-19 to the Malaysian in Birmingham.

Momota said he could not find his best form against Lee, who had not beaten the two-time world champion in six previous meetings.

"I did not play well and I was rushing through the points and that's why I couldn't play my game," Momota said

"I did not have a chance to think through my play and I struggled.

"I could feel the tension throughout this tournament."

The 26-year-old had fractured his nose and right eye socket, and sustained multiple lacerations to his face after the van he was travelling in crashed into a truck in Malaysia last year.

The accident, which killed the van driver, occurred hours after Momota had secured his first victory of the season at the Malaysia Masters.

Momota was due to make his international comeback in January in Bangkok but tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the withdrawal of all Japan's players from three events in Thailand.

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)