Badminton: Not 'brave' enough, says Loh Kean Yew after Singapore Open semi-final defeat

Singapore's Loh Kean Yew hits a return against Indonesia’s Anthony Ginting at the Singapore Open on July 16, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE -  As the smashes were fired into the net and the drop shots landed wide, Loh Kean Yew's hopes of becoming the first local men’s singles player to win the Singapore Badminton Open since Wee Choon Seng did 60 years ago slowly extinguished.

The world champion was brutally honest – he felt he was not "brave" enough – in his assessment  after he lost 21-17, 21-14 to Indonesian Anthony Sinisuka Ginting in their semi-final in front of a sold-out 6,000-strong crowd at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Saturday (July 16).

Despite having a 11-7 lead in the first game, and a 9-8 advantage in the second, world No. 9 Loh was unusually passive and struggled to deal with Ginting’s ferocious attacks and deceptive net plays. 

Many times, the Singaporean would play predictable lifts to the mid-court which made it easy for sixth-ranked Ginting to win the point with powerful smashes.

Loh, who earned US$5,365 (S$7,509) for his efforts in the US$370,000 Super 500 event, agreed, and said: “Being brave in the game means to try out different shots, to change the tactics and game plan. That’s something that I didn’t do well.

“He played a very good net game, was good in attack and defence and mastered the wind conditions. He played a very complete game.”

He also admitted  the high stakes and the opportunity to create history got to him. Ginting also later remarked that he felt Loh looked nervous.

“I wanted it too much, I thought of the result much more than the process,” said Loh, 25. “This is what I’ve been trying to work on. I need to focus on the process.

“I’m sorry to disappoint the fans who were hoping to watch me play one more time tomorrow. I’m thankful for their support and will continue to work hard on my game. Hopefully, one day I’ll reach the final.”

Ginting, the Tokyo 2020 men’s singles bronze medallist, will meet Japan’s world No. 43 Kodai Naraoka in today’s final.

The 25-year-old, who was runner-up at the 2019 edition to Kento Momota, said: “I tried so hard to push him, attack him, and play more offensively as Kean Yew has fast footwork. I tried to make his movement less smooth and play patiently.”

Naraoka had outlasted China’s 26th-ranked Zhao Junpeng 21-18, 25-23 in the earlier last-four encounter, prevailing in 50 minutes. He is aiming to win his first title on the BWF World Tour.

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In the women’s single final, India’s world No. 7 P. V. Sindhu plays China’s 11th-ranked Wang Zhiyi.

Sindhu, who  extended her record against Japan’s Saena Kawakami to 3-0 with a comprehensive 21-15, 21-7 win in the semi-final, has won her two other finals this year at the Syed Modi International and Swiss Open.

Wang, meanwhile, finally beat Japan’s Aya Ohori for the first time in four attempts with a 21-14, 21-14 victory yesterday. Her only previous meeting with Sindhu was a loss in the first round of this year’s All England Open.

In the all-Indonesia men’s doubles semi-finals, world No. 3 Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan seemed thrown off by a scoreboard malfunction delay while leading 18-17 in the second game after winning the first.

Instead, world No. 23 Leo Rolly Carnando and Daniel Marthin came back to win that game, saved a matchpoint in the decider before winning 9-21, 21-18, 22-20.

They will meet  world No. 5 Fajar Alfian and Rian Ardianto, who beat Sabar Karyaman Gutama and Moh Reza Pahlevi Isfahani 21-11, 21-7.

Today’s mixed doubles finals is a showdown between Thailand’s world champions Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, who recovered from 17-13 down in the decider to beat Malaysians Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Lai 21-17, 16-21, 22-20, and China’s Olympic champions Wang Yilyu and Huang Dongping.

The women’s doubles final will see Zhang Shuxian and Zheng Yu of China face in-form Indonesians Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti.

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