SINGAPORE — Loh Kean Yew created another slice of badminton history for Singapore on Saturday (29 April), as he became the first Singaporean to have reached a final at the Badminton Asia Championships.
The current world No.7, who will forever be remembered as the city-state's first badminton world champion, now has a chance to add the Asia title to his name, after defeating China's world No.14 Lu Guangzu 21-19, 21-15 in 45 tense minutes at the Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Indoor Hall in Dubai.
Upon watching his opponent hit the final shot into the net, Loh sank to his knees, letting out a long roar of joy as he ousted a dejected Lu.
In doing so, the 25-year-old went one step further than four Singaporeans who had previously reached the semi-final stage of the championships: Indra Wijaya (men's singles, 2001), Xiao Luxi (women's singles, 2002) and the mixed doubles pair of Hendra Kurniawan Saputra and Li Yujia.
He is set to face either Indonesian world No.2 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting or Japan's world No.15 Kanta Tsuneyama in Sunday's final.
Battle of two in-form shuttlers
The semi-final tie had been an intriguing affair between two in-form shuttlers. Lu has been in scintillating form at the tournament, beating world No.5 Kodai Naraoka and No.6 Chou Tien-chen in the previous rounds.
Loh, on the other hand, had not lost a game all competition, defeating the likes of India's Lakshya Sen, Jordan's Bahaedeen Ahmad Alshannik, and Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu as he marched into the semi-finals.
The first game lived up to the billing, with frequent lead exchanges amid crisp smashes from both shuttlers. No one held a lead of more than three points, but Loh seemed to have the edge in net play, and that proved crucial in the final points as he took control of the rallies to clinch the all-important game.
Loh, who had beaten Lu in their only previous encounter at last year's Indonesia Masters, seized the initiative in the second game for a 9-5 lead.
That lead proved vital as Lu could not level the score no matter how hard he tried, and Loh closed out the game with a flourish, scoring the final four points for the historic victory.
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