All England Open 2021: Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia shocks World No 1 Kento Momota to reach semi-final

The draw has opened up for Lee, who will face Mark Clajouw of the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Agence France-Presse March 20, 2021 10:40:55 IST
All England Open 2021: Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia shocks World No 1 Kento Momota to reach semi-final

Japan's Kento Momota plays a shot against Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia during their men's singles quarter-final. AFP

Birmingham: Lee Zii Jia shocked two-time world champion Kento Momota to reach the semi-finals of the All England Open on Friday.

The Malaysian beat the world number one 21-16, 21-19 to end his Japanese opponent's tournament after a much-anticipated return to international action this week.

The pair went blow-for-blow up until the interval, taken at 11-8. Lee surged on from there, matching Momota's razor-sharp movement to win seven straight points and take the first game 21-16.

The 22-year-old drove home his advantage, stretching out to an 11-6 lead at the break in a white-knuckle second game in the empty arena in Birmingham.

Lee saw a net cord go his way to make it 20-19 and he went on to seal the match against the 2019 champion.

"I've never beaten him before, so this is a very special moment for me," said the Malaysian, who has long been a keen follower of the Japanese player.

"I did a lot of studying about Momota. Every time I played him, it seems like there's a big gap between us.

"I always discuss about what strategy I have to play against him, we worked a lot on that. Today is a big win for us."

The draw has opened up for Lee, who will face Mark Clajouw of the Netherlands in the semi-finals.

Momota, 26, who made a successful return to domestic badminton by winning the All-Japan Championship in December, was playing his first BWF world tour event since a January 2020 car crash in Malaysia, in which he suffered a fractured eye socket and his driver was killed.

He missed out on his planned comeback to the international tour in January after testing positive for COVID-19 , which led to the Japan squad pulling out of three events in Thailand.

Denmark's second seed Viktor Axelsen beat Sitthikom Thammasin of Thailand 21-4, 21-15 to progress to the last four on Friday.

In the women's event, Japan's Nozomi Okuhara beat Thailand's Busanan Ongbamrungphan 18-21, 21-8, 21-16.

Indonesia's team were forced to withdraw from the tournament earlier this week after a passenger on their flight to Britain tested positive for the coronavirus .

With the All England Open not counting towards Olympic qualification, leading Asian badminton nations China, South Korea and Taiwan had opted not to travel because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Updated Date:

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