Badminton: Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew and Yeo Jia Min make Indonesia Open last 16

Loh Kean Yew beat India’s Kashyap Parupalli 21-11, 21-14 in 32 minutes.
Loh Kean Yew beat India’s Kashyap Parupalli 21-11, 21-14 in 32 minutes.PHOTO: BADMINTON PHOTO

SINGAPORE - National shuttlers Loh Kean Yew and Yeo Jia Min celebrated reaching career-highs in the world rankings by coming through their respective Indonesia Open first round matches on Tuesday (Nov 23).

But huge obstacles lie in wait for them in the round of 16 in the form of Japanese top seeds Kento Momota and Akane Yamaguchi on Thursday.

World No. 26 Loh beat India’s Kashyap Parupalli 21-11, 21-14 in 32 minutes. He was in total control in his first game at the US$850,000 (S$1.16 million) event but faced more resistance from his world No. 34 opponent in the second frame.

Nevertheless, the 24-year-old Singaporean produced a typical late surge to turn around a 14-12 deficit with nine straight points to extend his perfect record against the 2014 Commonwealth Games men’s singles champion to 3-0.

Loh said: “Kashyap is an experienced player with good shot quality so I just tried my best to get ready for every shot as fast as possible. Today, I felt sharp and stuck to my game plan even when he overtook me in the second game.”

He is looking forward to pit his skills against world No. 1 Momota, whom he lost 21-17, 21-18 to in their only meeting at the Vietnam International Challenge 2018.

“I have played with many seeded players in the past few tournaments and I haven’t played Momota yet. I hope to perform well against him to see how I fare and where I stand against the world’s top 10.”

Meanwhile, compatriot Yeo Jia Min, who climbed to world No. 18 in the women’s singles rankings released yesterday, similarly breezed past Poland’s world No. 63 Jordan Hart 21-9, 21-10 in 31 minutes.

The 22-year-old was a cut above with her angled placements and drop shots, and will take on world No. 3 Yamaguchi, who leads the head-to-head 2-1 although Yeo stunned the then-world No. 1 at the 2019 World Championships.

Yeo said: “I stayed calm and managed to cut down on my unforced errors today.
“I’m looking forward to playing against Akane in the next round. I will prepare well and hope to win.”

Despite the big challenges ahead, national singles coach Kelvin Ho backed his players to achieve more breakthroughs.

He said: “Both Kean Yew and Jia Min were clear-minded on court today and overcame whatever the opponents threw at them. 

“Kento and Akane are top players who are very consistent in their performances.  We will do our best to give them a good fight.”