Badminton: S'pore's Loh Kean Yew off to a flying start at Indonesia Masters

National shuttler Loh Kean Yew will face either Chou Tien-chen or world No. 38 Frenchman Thomas Rouxel in the second round. PHOTO: LOHKEANYEW/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - National shuttler Loh Kean Yew's giant-killing spree continued in Bali as he beat Chinese Taipei's world No. 11 Wang Tzu-wei 17-21, 21-14, 21-15 in 66 minutes in the Indonesia Masters opener on Tuesday (Nov 16).

Wang is the fourth player in the top 15 whom he has beaten in the past two weeks.

The 24-year-old Singaporean will face either Chinese Taipei's world No. 4 Chou Tien-chen or world No. 38 Frenchman Thomas Rouxel in the second round at the Bali International Convention Center on Thursday.

World No. 30 Loh was glad to follow-up his Hylo Open triumph with a win over another higher-ranked player.

He said: "It's all about consistency at this level. That win is in the past, and I don't put pressure on myself, I just want to do my best.

"Chou Tien-chen is another high-ranking player I have to overcome. He may be the same player I have beaten before, but this is a new competition and new match. His condition and the match conditions will be different, so I will have to prepare well for another tough battle."

Loh extended his winning record against Wang to 3-1, and true to form, their match went to a decider just like all their previous encounters.

Loh shrugged off a slow start, in which Wang raced to a 8-1 lead in the first game, to lead 14-13 but failed to close out the opening frame.

He made a late surge in the next two games, winning six out of the last eight points of the second game and, from 14-12 down, nine out of the final 10 points to take the match.

"The shuttle was slow and I was playing too slow, which allowed him to dictate early on," said Loh.

"But I picked up the pace and became more aggressive. Towards the end, I made the more decisive shots which helped me win the match."
The Indonesia Masters is a US$600,000 (S$812,000) Badminton World Federation World Tour Super 750 event, one tier above the Super 500 Hylo Open in Germany where Loh claimed a breakthrough singles title on Nov 7.

In that run of five wins, he beat Chou, Denmark's world No. 13 Rasmus Gemke and Malaysia's seventh-ranked Lee Zii Jia.

National singles coach Kelvin Ho shared that he had worked more on strength and conditioning with Loh to overcome the jet lag and exertion of playing in four tournaments over four weeks.

He added: "From today's match, we learnt that Kean Yew still needs to adapt quicker as we always need to be ready for any changes."

Meanwhile, Singapore's top female player, world No. 20 Yeo Jia Min will take on Denmark's 26th-ranked Line Christophersen in their first-round tie at the Indonesia Masters on Wednesday.

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