Badminton: S'pore's Yeo Jia Min, Loh Kean Yew through to Hylo Open q-finals

Singapore shuttler Yeo Jia Min in action during the French Open in October 2021. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BADMINTON PHOTO

SINGAPORE - For the second successive week, Singapore's top female shuttler Yeo Jia Min has beaten world No. 23 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung to qualify for the quarter-finals of a high-ranked tournament.

On Thursday (Oct 4), she beat the Indonesian 21-19, 21-17 in 36 minutes at the BWF World Tour Super 500 Hylo Open in Saarbrucken, Germany, to repeat her feat at last week's Super 750 French Open.

Opting for a high-serve strategy, the Singaporean impressed with her court coverage and agility as she had answers to most shots Tunjung threw at her.

In an even first game, Yeo had led 18-14 before her opponent reeled off five points on the trot. Some fine scrambling helped her level the scores and she never looked back.

The world No. 26 then built a sizeable advantage in the second game with some well-placed and well-crafted combinations. Despite a late wobble, and Tunjung's miraculous save off Yeo's smash from a squatting position to make it 20-17, the final result was not in doubt.

Yeo said: "After beating her last week, she was more eager to beat me this time, so she even changed her serve from the start.

"The shuttle moves very fast here, so I was trying to play a more stable game and put pressure on her when there was a chance."

The 22-year-old's side of the Hylo Open draw has now opened up considerably after Thailand's world No. 8 and top seed Ratchanok Intanon retired in her round of 16 match to leave Yeo with a last-eight clash against Belgium's world No. 38 Lianne Tan.

Yeo had breezed past Tan 21-16, 21-9 in the opening round of the French Open and a win will take her to the final four of a Super 500 event for the first time in her career.

Similarly in the men's singles, compatriot Loh Kean Yew has made it to his first Super 500 quarter-final after beating France's world No. 35 Toma Junior Popov 21-15, 11-21, 21-15 in the round of 16 of the US$320,000 (S$431,000) tournament on Thursday.

The 59-minute see-saw battle required a decider and the final turning point of the match was in favour of the Singaporean, whose lift to the back court was initially called out.

A successful challenge changed the scores from 17-15 to 18-14 as Loh prevailed and earned a first meeting with Denmark's world No. 13 Rasmus Gemke on Friday.

The world No. 39 said: "In wanting to be patient, I slowed down too much in the second game and my opponent took advantage of that.

"In the third game, I brought up the pace and was more aggressive, which helped me regain control.

"The key now is trying to find a balance between patience and aggression. I'm happy with the breakthrough to make the quarter-finals at this level, but I cannot stop here."

Loh had earlier claimed the scalp of Chinese Taipei's world No. 4 and top seed Chou Tien-chen in their first-round encounter on Wednesday.

Meanwhile at the Hungarian International, a US$5,000 International Series event, Singapore's world No. 147 Jason Teh beat Finland's world No. 227 Iikka Heino 21-17, 21-15 in 35 minutes to make the round of 16 where he will meet Sri Lanka's world No. 337 Buwaneka Goonethilleka.

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