National shuttler Loh Kean Yew has won his first international tournament in two years after beating top-seeded Indian Lakshya Sen 21-12, 21-16 in 36 minutes to claim the Dutch Open singles title in the city of Almere yesterday.
This is his first victory over Sen, who had drawn first blood in their only other encounter in the second round of the 2019 China Masters.
For winning his sixth international title, his first since 2019 when he memorably beat the legendary Lin Dan in the Thailand Masters final, the 24-year-old also picked up a cheque for €1,200 (S$1,900).
"This is big motivation and I'm really happy to achieve my target of making it to the final and winning the competition because I really want to gain more points to climb up the world rankings, which will help me play in bigger tournaments," said Loh, the second seed.
This is the world No. 41's first tournament since his Tokyo Olympics group-stage exit in July, and he displayed a high level of court management and an impressive array of decisive set-ups, smashes and drop shots to put world No. 25 Sen on the back foot and complete the tournament without dropping a game.
Loh said: "It was not as easy as it looked, especially in the earlier rounds because I took time to get used to the environment and lighting.
"The seats were white, which clashed with the shuttlecock's colour, but it got better when more fans came towards the end of the event."
A one-month training stint with Denmark's Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in Dubai from August to last month had helped Loh sharpen his game.
Familiarity was a factor as well, as 20-year-old Sen was also part of Axelsen's entourage, which included Canada's Brian Yang, England's Toby Penty, Sweden's Felix Burestedt and two 19-year-old Danish sparring partners Axel Parkhoi and Marcus Viscovich.
Loh then trained with the French national team at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance near Paris in the subsequent three weeks.
Singapore Badminton Association technical director Martin Andrew felt that Loh's European stint helped as "he's been exposed to different top levels and styles of players".
He added: "He has been able to build on his good performances at the Olympics and continue to develop his dynamic attacking style of play."
Loh will remain in Europe to play in three more tournaments - the Denmark Open, French Open and Hylo Open in Germany - before heading to Indonesia for two events and then back to Spain for the world championships in December.
He noted: "Fatigue will be a factor with all the travelling, but after the coronavirus-enforced suspension, I would rather be managing all this for a purpose than have no events at all."
Meanwhile, Loh's older brother Kean Hean and Terry Hee were also victorious in the men's doubles final after beating Malaysia's Tan Wee Kiong and Tan Kian Meng 21-14, 18-21, 22-20 for their second international title as a duo.
The Singaporeans received €1,350 for their win.