Badminton: Loh Kean Yew bows out of India Open after q-final defeat by Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn

Loh Kean Yew during the match against Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsarn at the India Open quarter-finals on Jan 20. PHOTO: BADMINTONPHOTO

National badminton star Loh Kean Yew may have suffered a quarter-final exit at the hands of familiar foe Kunlavut Vitidsarn, who won their India Open quarter-final 21-12, 21-17 on Friday.

But Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) technical director Martin Andrew believes the 25-year-old Singaporean has still made progress in some areas.

This is world No. 7 Loh’s fifth straight loss to the Thai SEA Games champion. Just last week, Kunlavut, 21, had beaten the Singaporean at the same stage of the Malaysia Open.

Andrew described Loh’s performance as “fluctuating”, adding that there were periods where he was dominant and times where he could not gain the initiative.

“In the latter cases, he is then under a lot of pressure to play very tight with a low margin for error which is hard against a player like Vitidsarn,” said Andrew.

“That said, there were still some very good areas where we’re seeing some progress in areas Kean Yew is working in.”

It was a close start to their match at the KD Jadhav Indoor Hall in New Delhi but, with the score tied at 6-6, Loh made it 7-6 with a cross-court smash and went into the interval 11-7 up.

A strong defensive showing then helped world No. 8 Kunlavut claim the next 12 points before taking the first game 21-12.

The second game saw the pair exchange leads several times but, with the score at 17-17, Kunlavut pulled ahead to win the match in 39 minutes.

In Saturday’s semi-finals, Kunlavut will face Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting, who beat China’s Li Shifeng 21-11, 17-21, 21-18.

After the match, Loh said: “Nothing much to say, ups and downs are normal in sports. I just need to rest the mind a little, reflect and try again.”

Next up for Loh is the Indonesia Masters in Jakarta from Tuesday to Sunday.

Andrew noted that Loh has “a few small gains to make which can make a noticeable difference”.

He said: “He’s good in the front court but can control more there. There are times in rallies and matches where he needs to be more patient then at times he needs to go in full attack.

“The advantage to be gained here is identifying the right strategy at the right moments. This is something intuitive, which Kean Yew is conscientiously working on.”

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