SINGAPORE — Before Friday (28 April), Loh Kean Yew had never beaten Hong Kong's Lee Cheuk Yiu in their past three encounters on the Badminton World Tour.
It was therefore fourth-time lucky for the Singaporean world No.7 shuttler, as he edged out his wily world No.20 rival 21-19, 21-19 at the Badminton Asia Championships quarter-finals in Dubai.
In beating Lee, the former world champion attained his best-ever showing at the annual regional tournament by reaching the men's singles semi-finals, eclipsing his quarter-final effort last year. Loh had defeated India's Lakshya Sen in the opening round, and then saw off Jordan's Bahaedeen Ahmad Alshannik in the second round.
It was anything but an easy 38-minute romp for the 25-year-old, however, as he had to dig deep to fend off Lee, who had last beaten him at the 2022 Malaysia Open.
In a see-saw first game, Loh had held a slight advantage early on, but Lee patiently chipped away at the lead until he levelled the score at 14-all.
Loh thought he had the decisive advantage when he surged to a 20-17 lead, but Lee again crept up to 19-all before Loh finally put him away.
It was a similarly tight affair when the second game started, but Lee suddenly found an extra gear to win five straight points for an 11-5 lead. Loh, however, retaliated with a five-point surge of his own to reduce the deficit to 10-11.
Lee surged again to take a seemingly-decisive 18-14 lead, but Loh refused to yield, levelling the tie at 19-all before claiming the final two points for the hard-fought victory.
The Singaporean will next face China's world No.14 Lu Guangzu in the semi-finals.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.