SINGAPORE — Loh Kean Yew could not follow up on his stunning win over badminton world No.1 Viktor Axelsen, as he stumbled against familiar rival Lee Zii Jia in the Denmark Open semi-finals on Saturday (22 October).
The Singaporean world No.5, so dominant in ending Axelsen's 39-match winning run on Friday, could not find his best form against Malaysia's Lee, the world No.3, as he lost 18-21, 15-21 in 40 minutes at the Jyske Bank Arena in Odense.
While the 25-year-old former world champion seized control early in both games against Axelsen, he let early leads slip against Lee - whom he had competed regularly with since his childhood days in Penang.
Lee, 24, kept his cool despite trailing 2-8 in the first game to rein in Loh, catching up to 12-12, then breaking an 18-all tie to win the game. In the second, a 0-3 deficit was quickly erased as Lee soared to a 8-4 and 14-9 lead before easing to the win.
This was Lee's third straight win over Loh this year, and he faces China's world No.44 Shi Yuqi, who defeated Japan's 24th-ranked Kodai Naraoka 21-15, 9-21, 24-22 in 77 minutes.
Lee is also the only Malaysian representative left in the Denmark Open, as three doubles pairs crashed out in the semi-finals.
Men's doubles pair Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik suffered their first loss since becoming world champions in Tokyo in Augusts, as they lost to Indonesia's Marcus Fernaldi Gideon and Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo 17-21, 21-13, 17-21.
Another men's doubles duo, Ong Yew Sin and Tan Ee Yi, also crashed to an Indonesian duo, Fajar Alfian and Muhammad Rian Ardianto, 16-21, 20-22 in their semi-final clash.
In the mixed doubles, Goh Soon Huat and Shevon Jemie Lai could not get past China's Zheng Siwei and Huang Yaqiong, falling 16-21, 22-24.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.