Japanese world No. 2 Kento Momota lost to Malaysian defending champion Lee Zii Jia in the men's singles quarterfinals of the All England Open Badminton Championships on Friday, falling short in his bid to reclaim the title he won in 2019.

Lee prevailed 21-7, 13-21, 21-11 in 64 minutes at Utilita Arena Birmingham, winning a rematch of last year's quarterfinals, when former world champion Momota was making his highly anticipated return to international action.

Kento Momota of Japan competes in the men's singles quarterfinals match at the All England Open Badminton Championships on March 18, 2022 in Birmingham, England. (Getty/Kyodo)

The 27-year-old Japanese missed much of the 2020 season after suffering career-threatening injuries in a car accident in Malaysia.

Momota found his groove in the second game and the 2019 champion fought back after falling behind 8-12 to level the match at one game apiece, but Lee won 10 points in a row in the deciding game to seal the result.

"I was on a winning game pattern but I lost. It was close until midway through the final game but I think it was my lack of confidence in returning his smashes to the back of the court that led to the loss," Momota said.

In the women's singles, Akane Yamaguchi advanced to the last four. In the mixed doubles, the Tokyo Olympic bronze-winning team of Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino booked their place in Saturday's semifinals.

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