Singapore shuttler Yeo Jia Min stuns world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi at World Championships

2019 Badminton World Championships - St. Jakobshalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland - August 20, 2019   Singapore's Yeo Jia Min celebrates during her second round singles match against Japan's Akane Yamaguchi   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Singapore's Yeo Jia Min celebrates during her round-of-32 singles match against Japan's world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi at the Badminton World Championships. (PHOTO: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann)

SINGAPORE — Singapore shuttler Yeo Jia Min scored a sensational upset win at the Badminton World Championships round of 32 on Tuesday (20 August), beating world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi of Japan in just 39 minutes.

The 20-year-old, who is a former junior world No. 1 and is currently ranked world No. 32, sank to her knees and yelled in delight after dispatching Yamaguchi 21-14, 21-18.

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It was the first time in three attempts she had defeated the 22-year-old Japanese, and she sets up a round-of-16 clash with Vietnam’s Vu Thi Trang, who is ranked No. 74 in the world.

“From the start, I tried to focus on every point and not to make simple errors like I used to do, and I tried to control my emotions,” said Yeo after her stunning victory.

“She is very good in defence, so I tried to be patient and find chances to attack.”

Fine form in the past 12 months

Yeo has been in fine form, winning the Hyderabad Open earlier this month as well as last year’s Vietnam Open.

Meanwhile, Yamaguchi put on a brave face as she explained her lacklustre performance.

“I could not get into my rhythm. I was surprised by the opponent and got lured into her style of playing,” she said in the post-match media conference.

“Also, I was playing the shuttle into areas where my opponent wanted it, instead of into difficult areas. Those are the main reasons for my loss.”

She downplayed speculation that a recent hip injury may have contributed to her defeat, but conceded that it affected her training for the World Championships.

For Yeo, there is little time to celebrate her biggest-ever victory, with the matches coming in thick and fast at the World Championships.

“I try to learn and improve from every match. This result will give me more motivation,” she said. “I’m happy but I still need to concentrate, because every day is new.”

Compatriot also advances after upset win

Her compatriot Loh Kean Yew also scored an upset win in the men’s singles competition, ousting 10th-seeded Sameer Verma of India 15-21, 21-15, 21-10 in the round-of-64.

Loh, who scored a memorable win over badminton superstar Lin Dan in the Thailand Masters final in January, faces France’s Thomas Rouxel next.

Lin suffered a shock round-of-32 exit, the 35-year-old losing 11-21, 21-13, 7-21 to India’s HS Prannoy in a huge dent to his hopes of qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

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