Shuttler Loh Kean Yew faces Lee Zii Jia in today's men's singles final
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew started the year with a bang by stunning China's former world No. 1 Lin Dan to win the Thailand Masters in January.
And he could make it a smashing end to 2019 today when the world No. 30 takes on Malaysia's 14th-ranked Lee Zii Jia in the SEA Games men's singles final at the Muntinlupa Sports Center in Manila.
Loh, 22, had booked his place in the final after coming from behind to topple the tournament's top seed Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand 16-21, 21-6, 21-9 in yesterday's semi-finals. In the process, he became the first Singaporean man to reach the final since Kendrick Lee in 2007.
If Loh can overcome the second seed, who had beaten him in three outings - including a 21-18, 21-12 win in last week's team event - he will become the first Singaporean male shuttler to reign supreme in South-east Asia since Wong Shoon Keat won the title on home soil in 1983.
Singapore also won a singles title in 2011 when Fu Mingtian triumphed in the women's event.
When asked how it feels to be the first Singaporean man to reach a singles final in 12 years, Loh said: "I feel happy and, at the same time, I need to calm myself down to prepare for the next match."
Loh had to do it the hard way, though, coming from behind to defeat Kantaphon yesterday.
He said: "In the first set, my speed was a bit slow. I picked up the speed in the second and third sets."
Added Singapore coach Mulyo Handoyo: "Kean Yew adjusted the front shots after first set, as well as the follow-up on court. The shots' quality and control were better in the second and third sets."
Loh also said that watching video reviews of his performances during the team events helped him reach the final.
Earlier, Loh had beaten Malaysia's Soong Joo Ven and Indonesian third seed Shesar Rhustavito to reach the semis.