Birmingham: When Kento Momota claimed his first All England crown way back in 2019, he was about to start an incredible run of 2019 which saw him won a record 11 titles in a single season and was considered the favorite to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.
Of course, things turned upside down for him completely after he sustained lacerations to his face, bruises to his entire body, and was later diagnosed with a broken right eye socket as a result of a fatal car accident that happened hours after he won the Malaysia Masters in Jan 2020. He had to undergo surgery to repair his eye socket.
Besides, after March 15, 2020, all international badminton tournaments have been postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the World No. 1 who has been off the international badminton for 14-month, finally back in action as he convincingly began the All England, sailing past Parupalli Kashyap of India 21-13, 22-20. Momota is set to take on HS Prannoy of India in the second round.
Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia defeated Brain Yang of Canada 21-13, 21-10 and will next face Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus of Denmark.
On the other hand, Denmark’s No. 2 seed Viktor Axelsen escaped a huge challenge from a very speedy World No. 41, Koki Watanabe, winning 13-21, 21-19, 21-19 in a 65 minutes battle. Axelsen will play Sai B Praneeth of India on Thursday.
Malaysia’s independent men’s singles player, World No. 33 Daren Liew, however, falling to World No. 31 HS Prannoy of India, 10-21, 10-21 in 30 minutes.
In men’s doubles, Goh V Shem/Tan Wee Kiong exacted sweet revenge against Mark Lamsfuss/Marvin Seidel of Germany for their Swiss Open second round lost to the German pair, beating Lamsfuss/Seidel 21-11, 21-18 in 37 minutes. Goh/Tan will meet Mathias Christiansen/Niclas Nohr of Denmark next. Christiansen/Nohr outlasted another Malaysian pair, Low Hang Yee/Ng Eng Cheong 21-16, 21-19 on Wednesday.
Ong Yew Sin/Teo Ee Yi of Malaysia also got off to a strong start by overcoming M.R. Arjun/Dhruv Kapila of India 21-13, 21-12 in the men’s doubles first round. Ong/Teo will next play No. 4 seeds Hiroyuki Endo/Yuta Watanabe.
Meanwhile, the world’s top two men’s pairs from Indonesia, the No. 1 seeds Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo and the No. 2 seeds Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan were struggling a little bit in their opening games. Both facing England pairs and were stretched to the decider before winning their respective matches. Gideon/Sukamuljo beat Matthew Clare/Ethan Van Leeuwen 21-12, 19-21, 21-9 to face Christo Popov/Toma Junior Popov of France on Thursday, while Ahsan/Setiawan came back from 11-15 in the decider to see off Ben Lane/Sean Vendy 21-18, 19-21, 21-19, meeting Jeppe Bay/Lasse Mølhede of Denmark in the last 16.