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Familiar foes await Loh Kean Yew in Singapore Badminton Open

SINGAPORE – Loh Kean Yew’s quest to become the first men’s singles champions at the Karim Family Foundation Singapore Badminton Open will be ridden with obstacles and familiar foes, as the Republic’s world No. 4 player was handed a tough draw for the June 6 to 11 tournament.

While the 2021 world champion is not in the same half of the draw as Denmark’s world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, he will start his campaign against Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu. The 17th ranked Lee had a 3-1 advantage over Loh but the Singaporean won their last encounter 21-19, 21-19 at April’s Badminton Asia Championships.

Yet another familiar foe awaits in the quarter-finals, where he could come up against Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn. Loh, who lost the 2022 SEA Games final to Kunlavut, has not been able to find a way past the Thai in their last five meetings.

Also on the same side of the draw are defending champion and Indonesia’s world No. 2 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia and two-time Singapore Open winner Kento Momota of Japan.

Loh said: “I’ll focus one match at a time as everyone is a challenge no matter who I come up against at this year’s KFF Singapore Badminton Open. I hope I’ll be able to perform to the best of my ability in front of the home crowd.”

His teammates will also face a tough challenge at the US$850,000 (S$1.14 million) tournament, which will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

In the women’s singles, world No. 34 Yeo Jia Min will come up against China’s 18th-ranked Zhang Yiman, whom she lost to at the 2019 Malaysia Masters.

The next round could serve up a match against South Korean world No. 2 An Se-young, with Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu-ying (world No. 3) and China’s He Bing Jiao (No. 5) also lying in wait.

In the mixed doubles, 2022 Commonwealth Games champions Terry Hee and Jessica Tan will be looking to avenge their 21-19, 21-18 loss to Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Boje at the ongoing Sudirman Cup.

If the world No. 26 duo beat the Danish, they will likely face a tough test against defending champions and world no. 3s Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai. Also in the upper half of the draw are the world’s top-ranked pair Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong of China.

Singapore’s women’s doubles pair of Jin Yu Jia and Crystal Wong will play Indonesia’s world No. 4s and defending champions Apriyani Rahayu and Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti.

The Singaporeans, including doubles player Loh Kean Hean, are currently competing in the Sudirman Cup in Suzhou, China, where they beat Egypt 5-0 in their final Group A match on Thursday. Singapore ended their campaign in third spot behind China and Denmark and did ont advance to the finals.

Organised by the Singapore Badminton Association, the Singapore Open is a Badminton World Federation World Tour Super 750 series event. It will feature the top 15 singles players and top 10 doubles pairs

Bryan Long, chairman of the Singapore Open, said, “With the strongest ever field in the tournament’s history, fans can expect enthralling matches right from the start and witness the exceptional skills of these world-class athletes on our shores.”

The organisers also said on Thursday that additional seats have been made available owing to overwhelming demand for tickets. Season tickets are prices between $120 to $380 and can be purchased via Ticketmaster.