Kento Momota crashed out in the first round of badminton’s Indonesia Masters on Wednesday, just the latest early exit for the two-time world champion.
Unseeded Momota, whose career has been in freefall since a car crash three years ago left him badly hurt, went down 21-18, 21-7 to China’s 27th-ranked Shi Yuqi in Jakarta.
Once badminton’s undisputed king, Momota is now ranked 19th in the world and looks a shadow of the player that won the world championships in 2018 and 2019.
Following a poor 2022, the 28-year-old’s new season began with him withdrawing from the Malaysia Open and then crashing out of the India Open in the first round.
“In the beginning, I was playing well. However, in the middle of the match, my opponent increased his attacks and I was put under pressure by his play today,” Momota said after defeat to Shi, in what was a repeat of the 2018 world championships final.
On that occasion Momota won, but those heady days seem a long time ago now.
“I failed to play as I had expected,” he added.
Momota is determined to get back to his former position at badminton’s summit, even though his form continues to disappoint.
“I am now trying to recover and maintain my mental condition, so I will not get pressured easily,” said Momota.
Momota was involved in a car crash that killed his driver on the way to the airport after winning the Malaysia Masters in January 2020.
It left Momota with a fractured eye socket and double vision, with his form dipping on his return to the court.