Badminton: Loh Kean Yew loses in Indonesia Masters semi-final

Loh Kean Yew hits a return to Taiwan's Chou Tien-chen during the Indonesia Masters men’s singles semi-final in Jakarta on June 11, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - After a thrilling Indonesia Masters men's singles semi-final on Saturday (June 11), Loh Kean Yew flashed his trademark boyish smile and hugged his conqueror, world No. 4 Chou Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei.

But once he had acknowledged the appreciation of the boisterous Istora Senayan crowd in Jakarta, the world No. 10 Singaporean would have been bitterly disappointed with the 21-16, 8-21, 21-19 defeat.

Chou now leads their head-to-head record 3-2 but it was world champion Loh, 24, who started brightly, building up a 9-5 lead.

The 32-year-old Taiwanese changed tactics though, moving the game closer to the net where he forced his opponent into making more errors to take the opener.

Loh imposed himself much better and easily claimed the second game.

In the decider, both players traded sharp cross-court smashes and the lead, with no player having more than a three-point advantage.

Chou led 11-9 at the interval, but Loh seemed to have turned the tide when his smash clipped the tape and landed in. He led 17-16, but the momentum shifted after a service error and he never went ahead again.

The India Open and SEA Games finalist would rue a particular point at 19-19 when he did well to stay in the rally and seize the initiative, only to rush an attack and punch the shuttlecock long.

Loh then pulled a return wide as an elated Chou advanced to the final where he will meet Denmark's Olympic champion and world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, who beat home favourite Anthony Sinisuka Ginting 21-15, 21-15.

For his efforts at the Badminton World Federation World Tour Super 500 event, Loh earned US$5,220 (S$7,254) and should pick up enough ranking points to reclaim his career-high world No. 9 position from India's Lakshya Sen next week.

Earlier in the tournament, Singaporeans Yeo Jia Min, Terry Hee and Jessica Tan were knocked out at the first hurdle of the women's singles and mixed doubles respectively, while men's doubles pair Loh Kean Hean and Hee lost in the second round.

Their next tournament is the June 14-19 Indonesia Open, a Super 1000 event at the same venue.

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