Badminton: S'pore's Yeo Jia Min, Loh Kean Yew into Hylo Open finals

This is also the first time Yeo Jia Min is in a Super 500 final, which is the fourth-highest level on badminton's world tour. PHOTO: COURTESY OF BADMINTON PHOTO

SINGAPORE - The Republic's top shuttlers continued their relentless pursuit of a first BWF World Tour Super 500 title by reaching their respective Hylo Open finals in Germany.

On Saturday (Nov 6), world No. 26 Yeo Jia Min outlasted Canada's third seed and world No. 11 Michelle Li 21-12, 23-25, 21-12.

She was followed by world No. 39 Loh Kean Yew, who beat Indian world No. 21 Lakshya Sen 21-18, 21-12 in their last-four clash.

On Sunday, Yeo will face Thailand's 14th-ranked Busanan Ongbamrungphan, while Loh will meet Malaysia's world No. 8 Lee Zii Jia at the Saarlandhalle in Saarbrucken.

At stake are the respective championships, 9,200 ranking points and a US$24,000 (S$32,400) winner's cheque.

Yeo had lost her two previous matches in straight games to 2014 Commonwealth Games women's singles champion Li in 2019, but was a different beast in Saturday's semi-final, easily clinching the first game.

Despite failing to convert two match points and losing the second game, she remained unfazed even with a wounded knee.

Overall, she played a steadier game and was happy to extend the rallies against her 30-year-old opponent, who had few answers to her delicate drop shots and athleticism during their 59-minute clash.

In the decider, Yeo pulled clear with seven straight points to make it 9-3 and left Li in a resigned heap with a lovely cross-court drop shot later on, as she claimed her highest-ranked scalp this year.

She said: "Inexperience meant I was unable to control the mental aspect well in the second game and I wasn't playing according to my game plan at all.

"I managed to calm down for the third game and not get too excited.

"For the final, I have to make sure I learnt from today's match and control the mental aspect better, be composed and stick to the game plan until the end.

"Busanan is an all-rounder and a good fighter, but I'm ready to give it my all."

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The 22-year-old has been in fine form at the US$320,000 event over the past week, seeing off Chinese Taipei's world No. 39 Pai Yu-po, Indonesia's world No. 23 Gregoria Mariska Tunjung and Belgium's world No. 38 Lianne Tan.

Equally impressive in the men's singles semi-final was Loh, who pulled through a tense first game in which both players took turns to go on runs before tying at 17-17.

The pivotal point came when he kept his poise despite a mid-rally slip to make it 20-18 before closing out the game.

Displaying outstanding defence and formidable smashes, the 24-year-old did not give Sen any chance of a comeback in the second game.

He said: "I was prepared to play a very long match with him, and this mindset helped me stay focused and patient when I needed to be.

"I'm happy to reach another final, but it's not finished yet."

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Standing in between Loh and his first Super 500 title is All England champion Lee, whom he beat at the French Open last week for his first senior victory over his childhood rival in five attempts.

The Singaporean had also conquered Taiwanese world No. 4 Chou Tien-chen, France's world No. 35 Toma Junior Popov and Denmark's world No. 13 Rasmus Gemke this week.

But he refused to dwell on the past, and said: "Every competition and every match is different, and players perform differently.

"I'm sure both of us will go all out and fight till the very last point for the title. I'm physically and mentally ready for another grueling battle."

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