Loh Kean Yew books season-ending World Tour Finals berth with easy win

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew smiles after beating world No.1 Viktor Axelsen at the Denmark Open in October 2022.
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew during the Denmark Open in October 2022. (PHOTO: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Newly-crowned Singapore Sportsman of the Year Loh Kean Yew reached another significant milestone, as he qualifies for the prestigious BWF World Tour Finals for the first time in his badminton career.

The world No.3 shuttler easily defeated Australia's world No.427 Low Pit Seng 21-10, 21-9 in the opening round of the Australian Open in Sydney on Wednesday (16 November).

This confirms his seventh placing in the World Tour men's singles rankings this year, ensuring his qualification in the season-ending World Tour Finals.

Only the top eight players in each category - men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles - qualify for the tournament, which has been moved from Guangzhou to Bangkok due to the COVID-19 pandemic situation in China.

The dates of the event have also been shifted to 7 to 11 December, from 14 to 18 December.

Handed easier tie after opponent withdrew

Loh, 25, was initially drawn to play world No.45 Mithun Manjunath, but the Indian shuttler withdrew from the Open and Low took his spot to face the second-seeded Singaporean.

And the former world champion proved far too strong for the 27-year-old Low, scoring 11 consecutive points during the second game to sew up the match in just 26 minutes.

Loh will next face either China's world No.27 Li Shifeng, or Indonesia's world No.23 Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo.

On Tuesday, Singapore's Commonwealth Games gold medallists Terry Hee and Jessica Tan safely negotiated their mixed doubles opening-round match, beating Taiwan's Lee Jhe-huei and Hsu Ya-ching 21-10, 21-16 in 28 minutes.

They will next faces fourth-seeded Koreans Seo Seung-jae and Chae Yu-jung. Should they win the Australian Open title, they will join Loh in qualifying for the World Tour Finals.

There was however no joy for women's shuttler Yeo Jia Min, who was the first Singaporean shuttler to qualify for the World Tour Finals last year. Yeo lost her opening-round tie 6-21, 12-21 to Taiwan's Pai Yu-po in 30 minutes.

Another doubles pair, Jin Yujia and Crystal Wong, advanced in the women's doubles competition after defeating Australia's Sylvina Kurniawan and Poon Lok Yan 21-16, 21-19 in 39 minutes. They will face Japan's Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara next.

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