Loh Kean Yew falls in opening round at Malaysia Open to Hong Kong rival

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew returns during a match at the Indonesia Open.
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew in action. (PHOTO: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Singapore's reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew slumped to an opening-round exit at the Malaysia Open on Tuesday (28 June), falling to Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu in the round of 32 at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.

Against an opponent whom he has not beaten in two previous encounters on the badminton world tour, world No.9 Loh got off to a fast start, racing to a 10-5 lead in the first game.

However, Lee - ranked world No.15 - began to rein Loh in, winning six points in a row and never looking back in a 21-19, 21-12 victory in 39 minutes.

Had Loh won, he would have set up a mouth-watering clash in the next round with world No.1 Viktor Axelsen, whom he had defeated en route to his memorable Badminton World Championships triumph last December.

The 24-year-old has had an eventful month on the tour circuit, reaching the Indonesia Masters semi-finals and the Indonesia Open quarter-finals in consecutive weeks.

He will next return to his home nation to playing in the Singapore Open in two weeks' time, before heading to represent the city-state at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in end-July.

Singapore's top women's shuttler Yeo Jia Min also suffered defeat in her opening round at the US$675,000 (S$936,000) Malaysia Open, the world No.18 falling to world No.3 An Se Young of South Korea 12-21, 15-21 in 32 minutes.

The opening day of the Malaysia Open began with a major upset, as world No.1 women's singles player Akane Yamaguchi of Japan was bundled out by 31st-ranked Indonesian Gregoria Mariska Tunjung in just 27 minutes, losing 14-21, 14-21.

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