July 24, 2023
SINGAPORE – The wait goes on for Singapore’s top badminton player Loh Kean Yew, as he continues his search for that elusive first tournament victory since winning the 2021 world championship.
On Sunday, the world No. 8 lost 11-21, 21-11, 21-19 to Denmark’s 16th-ranked Anders Antonsen in the US$420,000 (S$559,000) Korea Open men’s singles final at the Jinnam Stadium in Yeosu.
While Loh missed out on his first title in 19 months, Antonsen conquered four seeded opponents to end his own 30-month title drought after struggling with a chest complaint and other injuries in the past year as the former world No. 2 slipped to 30th.
While the Dane pocketed US$31,500 in prize money and 9,200 points for the Race to Paris (Olympics) ranking list, 26-year-old Loh had to be content with US$15,960 and 7,800 points.
Loh did not enjoy the best of starts, trailing 1-5 and 4-9, but astonishingly swept 17 out of the next 19 points to take the first game. However, he could not string consecutive points in the second game as Antonsen won by the same scoreline.
The nail-biting decider swung back and forth, but Loh just could not make up for the 13-8 deficit, and would rue two occasions when he failed to land the shuttlecock with a wide open court to smash at.
In the other finals, China’s Feng Yanzhe and Huang Dongping beat countrymen Jiang Zhenbang and Wei Yaxin 21-16, 21-13 in the mixed doubles, while compatriots Chen Qingchen and Jia Yifan outlasted home pair Kim So-yeong and Kong Hee-yong 21-10, 17-21, 21-7 in the women’s doubles.
An Se-young did give the home crowd something to cheer about when she beat Taiwanese Tai Tzu-ying 21-9, 21-15 to retain her women’s singles crown for her sixth title in 2023. The men’s doubles final is to be contested between Indonesia’s Fajar Alfian and Rian Ardianto and India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty.
Turning his sights on the July 25-30 Japan Open, Loh will have to take the positives from a week in which he overcame Malaysia’s 58th-ranked Leong Jun Hao, China’s 2022 World Championships bronze medallist Zhao Junpeng, Malaysia’s most in-form men’s singles player Ng Tze Yong and Japan’s top seed and world No. 4 Kodai Naraoka.
In Tokyo, the Singaporean will meet Ng again in the first round, and it is another Causeway Derby in the women’s singles as Yeo Jia Min takes on Goh Jin Wei.
Women’s doubles duo Jin Yujia and Crystal Wong will face Taiwanese Chang Ching-hui and Yang Ching-tun, while mixed doubles pair Terry Hee and Jessica Tan play China’s Asian champions Jiang Zhen Bang and Wei Ya Xin. – The Straits Times/ANN