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Loh Kean Yew remains sole local player in KFF Singapore Badminton Open

There was a weight on Loh Kean Yew’s shoulders as he marched onto the court in the Singapore Indoor Stadium on May 28.

Ahead of his opening game at the KFF Singapore Badminton Open, the Singaporean world No. 12 was staring at an unwanted run of three consecutive first-round exits, and he desperately wanted to avoid a fourth.

While the inconsistency that has plagued his recent performances continued to linger, Loh was able to avoid crashing out after beating China’s world No. 15 Lu Guangzu 25-27, 21-15, 21-5 in the topsy-turvey opener at the US$850,000 (S$1.2 million) tournament.

The 26-year-old will play Danish world No. 4 Anders Antonsen – whom he has beaten in three out of five encounters – in the round of 16 on May 30.

After clinching victory in front of 3,520 vociferous fans armed with clappers, Loh said: “It’s important for various reasons to go far in tournaments, and it’s especially more meaningful at home so I can play more in front of the home crowd.”

Playing on the quicker side of the court with the draught, Loh did well to keep up with an opponent he had beaten in their past two meetings, despite trailing in the first game.

In a marathon game that delighted fans with pinpoint smashes and dramatic saves, Lu prevailed to draw first blood.

Loh fought back to clinch the second game and turned on the heat in the decider, pummelling Lu into submission with his devastatingly fast attacks. Steamrolling to a 10-0 lead, Loh finally put another win on the board after losing in the first rounds of the Asia Championships, Thailand Open and Malaysia Masters.

Despite nursing a recurrent shoulder injury, he said: “Obviously I want to win and I’ll do whatever it takes to do the best I can.

“It was harder to play on the faster side, so I was hoping to win first and have the advantage in the second game on the other side. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. But badminton is a best-of-three sport, so I just tried to push through and I am very thankful for all the fans who were cheering for me and that motivates me even more.”

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