Badminton

Momota Kento to return this month at All-Japan Championships

World number one has been out of action since suffering eye-socket fracture in car crash after January's Malaysia Masters.

Badminton world number one Momota Kento will make his long-awaited return to action at this month's All-Japan Championships on Tokyo.

The reigning two-time world champion has not played since January when, after his victory in the Malaysia Masters, the vehicle taking him to Kuala Lumpur International Airport crashed into the back of a truck.

The driver was killed with two Japanese team officials injured and Momota thought to have just suffered lacerations to his face.

But weeks later, the left-hander struggled with double vision and dizziness in training and was found to have a fractured eye socket.

In March, he revealed that he had considered quitting but wanted to play on and compete at Tokyo 2020 which was later postponed by a year.

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Momota remains atop the world rankings thanks to his record-breaking 11 tournament wins in 2019 and the 2020 season being all but wiped out by the Covid pandemic.

After making his comeback on home soil, Momota plans to head to Thailand for the resumption of the BWF World Tour.

There are two Thailand Open events in consecutive weeks followed by the 2020 BWF World Tour Finals, all in Bangkok.

Speaking to media on Thursday, Momota said, "First I have the All-Japan Championships and I want to concentrate on that, but I'm really looking forward to playing against the best international players.

"I'm nervous but I'm really looking forward to it." - Momota Kenta

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According to Thailand Badminton Association president Patama Leeswadtrakul, the top five in the men's and women's singles world rankings will take part.

On the men's side, the top five are Momota, Chou Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei, Danish pair Anders Antonsen and Viktor Axelsen, and reigning Olympic champion Chen Long.

But Antonsen is a serious doubt for Bangkok as he is currently self-isolating having tested positive for Covid.

The winner of October's Denmark Open told TV2 Denmark he had been diagnosed last week.

Tai Tzu-ying is currently top of the women's rankings followed by China's Chen Yufei, Japanese duo Yamaguchi Akane and Okuhara Nozomi, and home favourite Ratchanok Intanon.

Reigning world champion P.V. Sindhu is currently training in England and has signalled her intention to play in Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Olympic champion Carolina Marin has this week pulled out of Spain's qualifiers for the European Mixed Team Championships in Portugal with hamstring trouble.