An uphill task awaits the country’s top men’s singles shuttler Lee Zii Jia as he has to better world number one Kento Momota for a place in the All-England semifinals.
The World Number 10 advanced to the quarterfinals after outclassing Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus 21-12, 21-13 in the second round at the Utilita Arena, Birmingham yesterday.
The Japanese player, who is playing in his first tournament since the fatal road accident that his team was involved in after the 2020 Malaysian Masters over a year ago, progressed after defeating HS Prannoy of India 21-15, 21-14.
Momota and three other teammates were injured when the van ferrying them to the KL International Airport was involved in a collision but the Malaysian driver was killed.
“Good to be back on the game. Last year I was a semi-finalist, a lot of memories here, so I was looking forward to the tournament and now am in the quarterfinals. After a bad start this year (due to the Covid-19 hiatus), I lost my confidence and gameplay.
“What I am trying is finding back my confidence and gameplay. Playing against Momota, I just want to enjoy the match, it is a good learning time because he is one of the best and top-ranked player in the world Will try my best and give a good fight tomorrow,” the Badminton World Federation (BWF) quoted Zii Jia as saying on its website.
Momota has won all previous six meetings with Zii Jia, with the last match at the Malaysian Masters in January last year ending with a 12-21, 21-16, 21-19 score.
Meanwhile, newly-crowned Swiss Open women’s doubles champions Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah kept their momentum and hopes alive when they made short work of Jessica Hopton-Jenny Moore 21-18, 21-7 of England in a 32-minute match.
The World Number 22 pair, who are making their debut in the prestigious tournament, are set to face fifth seeds Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida of Japan, who had earlier defeated Kati-Kreet Marran/Helina Ruutel of Estonia 21-8, 21-12.
Rio 2016 Olympics mixed doubles silver medallists, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying also entered the quarterfinals after eliminating Nipitphon Phuangphuapet-Benyapa Aimsaard 21-9, 21-8.
They will next have to deal with seventh seed Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue.
Another mixed doubles pair, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing also made into the last eight stage after ousting England’s Steven Stallwood-Annie Lado 21-15, 21-15 to set up clash against second seeds Yuta Watanabe-Aris Higashino of Japan.
(Note: Malaysians unless stated; [ ] denotes seeding)
 Hiroyuki Endo-Yuta Watanabe (JPN) bt Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi 21-10, 21-19
Mathias Christiansen-Niclas Nohr bt  bt Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong 21-19, 21-18
Sam Magee-Chloe Magee (IRL) bt  Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie 21-19, 21-16
 Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (FRA) bt Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei 21-19, 20-22, 21-14 ― Bernama