Badminton: Singaporean Loh Kean Yew digs deep for victory

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew hitting a backhand return en route to beating Thomas Rouxel in the second round of the World Championships yesterday. Loh will next face second seed Chou Tien-chen in Basel, Switzerland. PHOTO: BADMINTONPHOTO
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew hitting a backhand return en route to beating Thomas Rouxel in the second round of the World Championships yesterday. Loh will next face second seed Chou Tien-chen in Basel, Switzerland. PHOTO: BADMINTONPHOTO

Singapore shuttler overcomes 'tiredness' and loss of first game to progress to third round

Loh Kean Yew fell to his knees and roared in triumph while pumping his fists after coming from behind to avenge a loss to Thomas Rouxel at the BWF World Championships yesterday.

After his 18-21, 21-13, 21-11 victory in Basel, Switzerland, a spent Loh told The Straits Times: "(It was a) significant win because I managed to overcome myself and the tiredness on court."

In a 75-minute tie that was punctuated with yells and long rallies, it was Rouxel who drew first blood in the first game. World No. 34 Loh, who lost to the same opponent at the German Open in February, appeared to be flummoxed by the world No. 54's smashes.

Loh was sent scrambling between opposite ends of the court, and, at one point, dived but failed to retrieve a shot.

The 22-year-old also received medical attention for an abrasion on the last finger of his right hand and though he won the next four points, the Frenchman edged ahead to win a close first game.

Despite starting the second game 3-0 up, Loh was soon trailing again. But he held his nerve at 6-9, reminding himself to "be patient and stick with the game plan", and won eight straight points to take a lead he never relinquished.

A smash down the line on match point sealed the win.

"I was more prepared to play more rallies this time round... I needed to keep the pace high while staying patient," said Loh.

INSPIRED

Jia Min's win was inspiring and (provided) motivation for my match; it showed me that anything is possible if we keep fighting. I will bring this mindset into my next match against Chou.

LOH KEAN YEW, Singapore shuttler, on his teammate's win rubbing off on him.

FLYING THE NATION'S FLAG

It is great to see our youngsters progressing in these World Championships. A lot of Singaporeans are rooting for Kean Yew and Jia Min.

LAWRENCE LEOW, Singapore Badminton Association president, hailing the performance of local shuttlers at these World Championships.

"I'm very happy to enter the top 16. I will continue to focus on the next match and keep myself calm."

Loh, who had upset 10th seed Sameer Verma in the first round, faces world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen of Chinese Taipei today.

Fellow Singaporean Yeo Jia Min, who stunned women's world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi in the second round on Tuesday, will also be in action today against Vietnam's Vu Thi Trang.

Loh added: "Jia Min's win was inspiring and (provided) motivation for my match; it showed me that anything is possible if we keep fighting. I will bring this mindset into my next match against Chou."

Singapore Badminton Association president Lawrence Leow believes the win yesterday would boost the player's confidence ahead of a match with an opponent of Chou's calibre.

He added: "It is great to see our youngsters progressing in these World Championships. A lot of Singaporeans are rooting for Kean Yew and Jia Min."

In other matches yesterday, men's doubles top seeds Marcus Gideon and Kevin Sukamuljo of Indonesia were shocked by South Korea's Choi Solgyu and Seo Seung Jae 16-21, 21-14, 23-21 in 64 minutes.

Said Gideon in a BWF statement: "They had a great day. They played better than us. We made too many errors.

"They delayed their serves and that affected our rhythm."

Fifth seeds Hiroyuki Endo and Yuta Watanabe of Japan were felled by Germans Mark Lamsfuss and Marvin Seidel 21-17, 20-22, 21-19.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2019, with the headline 'Loh digs deep for victory'. Print Edition | Subscribe