Loh Kean Yew lets slip two match points in loss to Indonesian Jonatan Christie
BANGKOK – Loh Kean Yew’s hoodoo against Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie continued as he squandered two match points to lose 16-21, 22-20, 21-10 in their Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals Group B match on Thursday.
The defeat - coupled with Indonesian world No. 7 Anthony Sinisuka Ginting’s win over Taiwanese world No. 4 Chou Tien-chen - meant there is all to play for in their final group matches on Friday.
The US$1.5 million (S$2 million) tournament at the Nimibutr Arena features the eight best performing players in the singles and doubles categories, and Loh is the first Singaporean man to qualify for the prestigious season-ender, which runs until Sunday.
The top two players from each group progress to the semi-finals, and Ginting is currently top of Group A with two wins. Both Loh and Christie have one win, but the Singaporean world No. 3 is second because of a better game difference.
While Chou is bottom with two losses, he may still sneak into the last four on game or point difference if he beats Christie in straight games, and Ginting does the same to Loh.
Conversely, Loh may also advance on game or point difference even if he loses to Ginting, if Chou beats Christie.
Despite never beating Christie in five previous attempts, the Singaporean had started their match on the front foot, with his sharpness matching his aggression. He produced eight winners from smashes, with only one finding the net, to take an early lead.
Fighting for his tournament life, Indonesia’s world No. 5 stepped up in the second game to build a 7-3 advantage, only for Loh to come back and lead 11-10 at the interval.
In an intriguing tactical battle with more rallies than the first game, they traded leads again after the break and Loh looked to have broken the curse and Christie’s spirit with a diving save which he somehow managed to convert into a brilliant cross-court clear to make it 15-15 before making it 20-18 as the opponent dumped consecutive shots into the net.
But Christie also showed great fighting spirit, producing ferocious smashes when he needed it most to save the match points and win the game with four points on the trot.
A punctured Loh then made far too many unforced errors in the decider as he counted the cost of not being able to close out the match when he could.
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