Loh Kean Yew loses dramatic world c’ship last-16 tie to India’s Prannoy
Loh Kean Yew ultimately ran out of comebacks as his run at the Badminton World Federation World Championships came to an end in the round of 16, after he lost 21-18, 15-21, 21-19 to India’s H.S. Prannoy in a dramatic 69-minute clash in Denmark on Thursday.
The 26-year-old told The Straits Times: “I gave it my all. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. I just have to go back, analyse and come back stronger.”
In Friday’s quarter-finals, the Indian world No. 9 will go on to face either home favourite and defending champion Viktor Axelsen or Chinese Taipei’s 10th-ranked Chou Tien-chen. Their match was ongoing at press time.
While Prannoy held a 3-1 advantage over Loh in their head-to-head record before their latest showdown, Singapore’s top player hit the ground running at the Royal Arena in Copenhagen.
The 2021 world champion demonstrated his quick instincts with a variety of shots and led 11-8, only to allow Prannoy to claw his way back as Loh made several unforced errors with his service and returns to lose the first game.
The second game followed a similar vein as world No. 7 Loh had the same advantage at the interval, but he was more patient in his search for opportunities to kill off points as he took the match to a third game following a successful challenge.
The dramatic decider swung Prannoy’s way at first as he led 11-4 playing against the draught, as Loh looked out for the count.
But following the change of ends, Loh won 12 out of the next 15 points to lead 16-14, as both players began celebrating each point won emphatically.
They continued to trade leads as Prannoy surged ahead 19-17 before Loh fought back to 19-19.
But two deceptive clears helped the 31-year-old Indian claim a memorable victory, as his opponent turns his focus to the Sept 5-10 China Open and Sept 12-17 Hong Kong Open before heading for the Sept 23-Oct 8 Asian Games in Hangzhou.
Meanwhile in the women’s singles, Japan’s 2017 world champion Nozomi Okuhara continued her renaissance after recovering from a femur fracture in her right thigh, as she beat Thailand’s 2013 world champion Ratchanok Intanon 21-19, 21-16.
The 28-year-old will meet South Korea’s in-form world No. 1 An Se-young, who beat American world No. 10 Zhang Beiwen 21-19, 21-13, on Friday for a place in the semi-finals.
Japan’s two-time defending champion Akane Yamaguchi received a walkover against Thailand’s Busanan Ongbamrungphan and will face either Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung or China’s Han Yue.