Loh Kean Yew pushes world No. 7 close at Yonex Thailand Open
Singaporean shows little sign of rust in loss to Jonatan Christie, despite not playing since last February due to Covid-19 disruption
For a while, it looked as if a repeat of Loh Kean Yew’s finest hour was on the cards.
Bangkok was the scene of the 23-year-old’s career-defining Thailand Masters final win over badminton legend Lin Dan in 2019, and he rekindled memories of that performance on Tuesday afternoon (Jan 12).
Loh outclassed Indonesia’s world No. 7 and reigning Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie 21-13 in the first set of their first-round clash at the Yonex Thailand Open.
The Singaporean men’s singles world No. 38 showed little sign of rust despite not featuring on the international badminton circuit since last February due to the disruption caused by Covid-19.
The Yonex Thailand Open is the first international tournament since the Denmark Open last October.
Christie, also 23, meanwhile, looked sluggish, making a series of unforced errors in the first set at the Impact Arena, where Loh lead virtually from start to finish.
But the Indonesian looked a different player in the second set, coming out of the blocks firing as he took a 7-0 lead before eventually brushing Loh aside 21-10.
The stage was set for a potentially exciting third set, which did not disappoint.
The Singaporean shrugged off an error-prone second set to push Christie all the way in the decider.
Despite spending much of the third set trailing, Loh showed admirable tenacity, at one juncture winning four straight points to pull to within one point of Christie late in the match at 16-17.
But from then on, the world No. 7 showed his class to win the next four points and the match 13-21, 21-10, 21-16 in 65 minutes.