SINGAPORE — Loh Kean Yew has never beaten Indonesia's Jonatan Christie on the professional badminton tour circuit. That streak stretched to six matches at the BWF World Tour Finals in Bangkok on Thursday (8 December).
The Singapore world No.3 shuttler just could not put away his wily rival, as he failed to convert two match points in the second game and succumbed yet again to Christie 21-16, 20-22, 10-21 in 62 minutes at the Nimibutr Arena.
This leaves the former world champion with one win and one loss in Group B of the season-ending tournament, after he defeated Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen in straight games on Wednesday.
He will face another Indonesian, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, in his final group match on Friday. A win could allow him to advance into the semi-finals on his debut appearance in the elite World Tour Finals, where only the top eight shuttlers qualify for each of its competitions.
It will not be easy, however, as Loh has not beaten Ginting in their past two encounters, including one at the Singapore Open semi-finals in July. Ginting has also yet to lose at this World Tour Finals, as he followed up his victory over Christie on Wednesday with a 21-14, 12-21, 21-19 over Chou on Thursday.
It was another agonising defeat for Loh at the hands of the world No.5 Christie, who had also stopped him from advancing out of the group stage in last year's Tokyo Olympics.
Defeating the Indonesian would have guaranteed the Singaporean's passage into the semi-finals, and he looked imperious early on, comfortably winning the first game.
However, the second game was a tight and tense affair, as both shuttlers traded leads until the end. Loh had held two match points at 20-18, but Christie fought back with four straight points to level the tie.
The Indonesian grew into the match and dominated the rubber game, opening up 10-4 and 14-6 leads to fend off a deflated Loh, who must be wondering what he has to do to defeat his nemesis.
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