Loh Kean Yew avoids tough rivals in Singapore Open draw

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Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew raises his arms in victory at the Indonesia Open. (Photo by Shi Tang/Getty Images)
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew raises his arms in victory at the Indonesia Open. (PHOTO: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew has been given a favourable draw in the upcoming Singapore Badminton Open, as he prepares to play in front of the home crowd for the first time as the reigning world champion.

The world No.9 will avoid facing tough rivals such as world No.1 Viktor Axelsen, world No.4 Chou Tien-chen and world No.8 Jonatan Christie, all of whom are on the other side of the men's singles draw at the Open, which will be held from 12 to 17 July at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

He will still have to negotiate the likes of Indonesia's world No.6 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu - who defeated him in this week's Malaysia Open - on his side of the draw.

"I am looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd again,” the 25-year-old said in a media release on Friday (1 July).

“It has been two years since the last Singapore Badminton Open, and I still remember the thrill of having the home crowd behind me. Hopefully, we can give the fans something to celebrate.”

There has not been a Singaporean men's singles champion in the Open since Wee Choon Seng’s 1962 triumph. The closest since then was Ronald Susilo, who was runner-up in the 2002 edition, losing to China's Chen Hong in the final.

Up-and-down year following world championships triumph

Loh has had an up-and-down year so far, following his monumental triumph at the world championships in Huelva, Spain, last December.

There have been high points, such as helping Singapore clinch a Thomas Cup finals spot for only the third time in history, finishing runner-up in January's India Open, silver-medallist at the SEA Games in May and semi-finalist in last month's Indonesia Masters.

There have also been low points, such as opening-round exits in the All-England Championships and the Malaysia Open.

“Although the results could have been better, I feel I am slowly getting back to my best after spending some time out with COVID in March," he said. “The next few weeks will be a busy period. It will be a good test for me and I look forward to the challenge.”

The Singapore Badminton Open will make its return after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 25 top-10 players scheduled to feature in the tournament.

Tickets for the Open start from $5 for children and $30 for adults. Fans can choose to purchase either season passes or single-day tickets, with season passes starting at $100.

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