SINGAPORE — As more top seeds fell by the wayside, Loh Kean Yew's serene progress into the Singapore Badminton Open men's singles quarter-finals has raised hopes among local fans at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Thursday (14 July).
The world No.9, who is bidding to become the first Singaporean men's singles Open champion since 1962, defeated 2013 winner Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia 21-13, 21-17 in 40 minutes to advance into the last eight - the furthest he has gone in this tournament after exiting at the round of 16 in 2018.
The reigning world champion had to adopt a patient approach against his veteran opponent, especially in the second game where he was never in the lead until he broke a 17-17 deadlock with four straight points for the win.
“I was struggling to control the drift in the second game. But I’m glad I managed to overcome that and win. I had to calm myself down repeatedly as I was always trailing and trying to play catch-up," he said.
“The crowd definitely motivated me to play better. I’m happy to be able to play my part in bringing everyone together. That’s what badminton is all about. To bring everyone together."
One higher-ranked opponent left for Loh to negotiate
Loh's path to Singapore Open glory has cleared up considerably on Thursday, as two of his higher-ranked rivals suffered shock losses.
World No.4 and top-seeded Taiwanese Chou Tien-chen - who beat Loh at the Indonesia Masters semi-finals last month - fell to world No.19 H.S. Prannoy of India 21-14, 20-22, 18-21.
Meanwhile, world No.8 Jonatan Christie - whom Loh has never beaten in five past encounters - was also beaten by a lower-ranked opponent, succumbing 21-7, 18-21, 15-21 to Japan's world No.43 Kodai Naraoka.
With the duo's exits, Loh has only one higher-ranked opponent left to contend with - Indonesia's world No.6 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, whom he might meet in the semi-finals.
Ginting was made to sweat as he took over an hour to overcome the stiff challenge of Taiwani’s Lin Chun-yi, but eventually won the contest 21-12, 19-21, 21-16.
Loh’s elder brother, Kean Hean and Terry Hee gave the local fans further cheers, as they eased into the men’s doubles quarter-finals after a 21-9, 21-17 win over Malaysia's Junaidi Arif and Muhammad Haikal.
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