SINGAPORE — Loh Kean Yew began his Indonesia Masters tournament on Wednesday (25 January) just like how he did at the Malaysia Open two weeks ago - by beating China's Li Shifeng.
Unlike his hard-fought victory in Kuala Lumpur, the Singapore world No.8 was far more comfortable in defeating his world No.20 rival in this opening-round match, seeing off Li 21-14, 21-16 in 41 minutes at the Istora Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta.
The former world champion was imperious in the win, trailing only in the opening point as he carved out 9-4 and 13-8 leads before rattling off the final five points to take the first game.
Loh was equally impressive in the second game, taking a 7-2 lead before Li mounted a fightback to level the score at 16-all. However, Loh sealed the match with another surge of five straight points for his fourth straight victory over Li.
Title-winning hopes boosted by withdrawals
The Singaporean would have been boosted by news that both world No.1 Viktor Axelsen and his Thai nemesis Kunlavut Vitidsarn - finalists at last week's India Open - have withdrawn from the Indonesia Masters.
Nonetheless, he still has many formidable opponents standing in his way to winning his first World Tour title since his BWF World Championships win in December 2021.
He next faces either Indonesia's Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo or India's Priyanshu Rajawat in the round of 16, while Malaysia's world No.4 Lee Zii Jia and India's world No.9 H.S. Prannoy await in his half of the men's singles draw.
On the other side of the draw are Indonesia's world No.2 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and No.3 Jonatan Christie - two opponents whom Loh have rarely beaten.
Nonetheless, it was a fine start by the Singaporean at the tournament, and he will be aiming to reach his third straight quarter-final in as many tournaments this year.
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