Singapore's Thomas Cup hopes end with 3-2 loss to South Korea
The national men's shuttlers can hold their head high after another defiant display against illustrious opponents at the Thomas Cup - despite losing 3-2 to South Korea on Monday (May 9).
On Sunday, Singapore were beaten 4-1 by Indonesia, who defeated hosts Thailand 4-1 in Monday's other Group A match-up to progress to the quarter-finals alongside the Koreans at the expense of Singapore and Thailand, who play each other in a dead rubber on Wednesday.
Once again, Singapore's world champion Loh Kean Yew led the way and got the Republic off to a winning start in the first singles by easily beating 31st-ranked Heo Kwang-hee 21-14, 21-12 in 32 minutes at the Impact Arena in Bangkok.
Loh said: "Such high-level matches will definitely help with our preparations for the (May 16-22) SEA Games badminton competition. We want to bring such form and fighting qualities to Vietnam.
"Personally, I'm feeling good about my consistency and focus in these past two matches. I hope I can maintain this performance level and build on my consistency. The next match against Thailand will be important to see if I'm getting more consistent or not."
Competing in only their third Thomas Cup, Singapore fought valiantly against their rivals on Monday, as a more keenly contested first doubles match saw world No. 56 Loh Kean Hean and Terry Hee take the opening game against 97th-ranked Kang Min-hyuk and Seo Seung-jae.
In an exhilarating contest played at a very high tempo, both pairs fought tooth and nail as the crowd marvelled at their smashes, drop shots and behind-the-back saves.
Seo then stepped up with his composure and experience from having reached the top 10 in the men's and mixed doubles to help the pair bounce back and win 15-21, 21-17, 21-19 in 64 minutes.
More drama ensued in the second singles as world No. 88 Jason Teh made an explosive start in his first game against 270th-ranked Jeon Hyeok-jin with aggressive attacking play.
However, with a 14-7 lead, the 21-year-old slipped and injured his right foot against an opponent who had just won the Korea Masters men's singles title in April and was once ranked 18th in 2018.
Teh manfully played on to clinch the opening game, but cruelly twisted the same ankle while he was 3-1 down in the next game and required another bout of treatment.
Yet again, he got up and continued, keeping pace and trading points until 8-8 before Jeon pulled away, relying mostly on lengthy rallies to put Teh in uncomfortable spots.
It was a similar story in the decider, as Teh relied on adrenaline and remarkable fighting spirit to draw level at 11-11. But the fitter Jeon prevailed 14-21, 21-13, 21-14 in 78 minutes.
In the second doubles, world No. 115 Choi Sol-gyu and Kim Won-ho beat 367th-ranked Thomas Cup debutants Wesley Koh and Junsuke Kubo 21-14, 21-13 in 35 minutes to win the tie overall.
Despite the certain elimination, world No. 225 Joel Koh refused to throw in the towel and delivered a hard-fought 21-15, 10-21, 21-11 win over 603rd-ranked Lee Yun-gyu in 59 minutes.