Loh Kean Yew stuns Viktor Axelsen, ends world No.1's 39-match winning run

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew pumps his fist after winning a point against Denmark's Viktor Axelsen at the Denmark Open.
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew pumps his fist after winning a point against Denmark's Viktor Axelsen at the Denmark Open. (PHOTO: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — En route to winning his monumental Badminton World Championships men singles title last year, Loh Kean Yew had began his campaign by stunning world No.1 Viktor Axelsen in the opening round.

On Friday (21 October), he repeated his feat at the Denmark Open quarter-finals, upsetting Axelsen again - on the Dane's home turf - in a surprisingly dominant 21-17, 21-10 win in just 30 minutes at the Jyske Bank Arena in Odense.

Not only did Loh end Axelsen's 39-match winning streak, but the world No.5 also became only the second player to defeat the reigning world champion this year, after India's world No.8 Lakshya Sen at the German Open in March.

Loh seized control early in each game, turning a 7-8 deficit into a 12-8 advantage to eventually clinch the first, and breaking up a 2-2 tie to surge to an 8-2 lead to see through the second.

Axelsen took to Twitter to congratulate Loh on his win, a compliment which Loh thanked in his reply.

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Loh thus sets up a semi-final clash on Saturday with a familiar rival - Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia, whom he had competed regularly with since his childhood days while he was still living in Penang.

Lee, the world No.3, had a much tougher quarter-final than Loh, taking 67 minutes before he subdued Indonesia's world No.7 Jonatan Christie 21-16, 18-21, 21-18.

The other semi-final sees China's Shi Yuqi against Japan's Kodai Naraoka.

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