Badminton: Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew through to India Open q-finals

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SINGAPORE – World champion Loh Kean Yew’s path towards winning the India Open and breaking into the top 10 for the first time has opened up with his second-round victory and a slew of withdrawals due to Covid-19.

The 24-year-old Singaporean on Thursday (Jan 13) beat Malaysia’s world No. 70 Soong Joo Ven 21-12, 21-12 in 33 minutes. He will face either Russian Sergey Sirant (No. 76) or Finn Kalle Koljonen (No. 63) in the quarter-final on Friday.

Loh, at world No. 15, is the highest-ranked player left in the men’s singles after top seed and No. 10 Srikanth Kidambi was one of seven Indian shuttlers ruled out after positive coronavirus tests on Wednesday.

If Loh wins the US$400,000 (S$541,000) competition, which is a Super 500 event and fourth tier of the BWF World Tour circuit, he will replace Srikanth as world No. 10.

In the mixed doubles, the Republic’s world No. 182 Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han benefited from the withdrawal of India’s world No. 978 Akshan Shetty and Simran Singhi.

The latter tested positive while Shetty is considered a close contact.

The Singaporeans next meet India’s unranked pair of Nithin H. V. and Ashwini Bhat K.

Elsewhere at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex, Singapore’s 17th-ranked Yeo Jia Min posted a 13-21, 21-7, 21-12 win over India’s world No. 159 Anupama Upadhyaya in 52 minutes.

The 22-year-old showed more aggression and composure after losing the first game, and will play Thailand’s world No. 33 Supanida Katethong on Friday for a place in the semi-finals.

Later on Thursday, world No. 106 Loh Kean Hean and Hee will play in the second round of the men’s doubles against India’s unranked duo Gaurav Deswal and Shubham Yadav.

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