Loh Kean Yew breezes through opening round at Badminton World Championships

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew celebrates winning a match at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew celebrates winning a match at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. (PHOTO: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Defending men's singles champion Loh Kean Yew safely negotiated the opening round of 64 at the Badminton World Championships in Tokyo on Monday (22 August), easily defeating Spain's Pablo Abian in straight games.

The 25-year-old world No.8 took just 29 minutes to beat his world No.59 opponent 21-12, 21-12 at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, as he seeks to recapture the form which took him to the momentous triumph in Huelva in December last year, making him Singapore's first badminton world champion.

There were glimpses of that swashbuckling form, as Loh rattled off 14 consecutive points in the first game, turning what had been a 5-8 deficit into a huge 19-8 lead.

He will next face Guatemala's world No.41 Kevin Cordon in the round of 32.

Loh had yet to win another title on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Tour following his world championships triumph, although he had reached the Indian Open final in January and the Indonesian Masters semi-finals in June.

He has also entered the badminton final in May's SEA Games, but had to settle for a silver medal after losing to Thailand's Kunlavut Vitidsam. Most recently, he came up short at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, losing to Malaysia's Ng Tze Yong in the quarter-finals earlier this month.

Singapore's other representative in the men's singles competition, Jason Teh, fell in his first hurdle, the world No.86 losing 13-21, 14-21 to the Netherlands' world No.28 Mark Caljouw in 33 minutes.

Doubles pair Terry Hee, Loh Kean Hean advance

In the men's doubles, Terry Hee and Loh's elder brother Kean Hean emerged 21-17, 21-18 winners over France's Christo and Tomo Junior Popov in 34 minutes to advance into the last-32.

They are set to face Malaysia's ninth-seeded Ong Yew Sin and Teo Ee Yi in their next match.

Hee will also team up with his wife Jessica Tan in the mixed doubles competition, where the Commonwealth Games gold medallists will begin their campaign in the second round against Japan's Yuki Kaneko and Misaki Matsumoto, after their first-round opponents, England's Callum Hemming and Jessica Pugh, withdrew.

Women's doubles pair Jin Yujia and Crystal Wong will also take on Austria's Serena Au Yeong and Katharina Hochmeir in their opening-round tie on Tuesday.

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