Badminton: Loh Kean Yew excited to be playing in front of home crowd at Singapore Badminton Open

Singapore's 25 year-old World champion has favourable draw following the withdrawal of second seed Anders Antonsen

Singapore's 25 year-old World Champion Loh Kean Yew will not meet a seeded player till the semi-finals following Anders Antonsen's withdrawal. PHOTO: CHERYL TAY, SPORTPLUS.SG

Singapore, 1 July 2022 – Singapore’s world champion Loh Kean Yew is relishing the opportunity to once again play against the best in the world in front of a home crowd.

The World No.9 shot to world prominence last year when he won Singapore’s

first-ever BWF World Championships title. And with the Singapore Badminton Open (SBO) making a return after a two-year hiatus because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 25-year-old is anticipating a great atmosphere at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

Haseena Sunilkumar in action at the Thailand Open. PHOTO: SINGAPORE BADMINTON OPEN

“I am looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd again,” said Loh, who turned 25 on Sunday.

“It has been two years since the last SBO and I still remember the thrill of having the home crowd behind you. This year’s tournament will have a record crowd and hopefully we can give the fans something to celebrate.”

Singapore's Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han will be banking on a sell out crowd to cheer them on at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. PHOTO: SINGAPORE BADMINTON OPEN

Record crowd at star-studded Singapore Badminton Open

With more than 25 players ranked in the world’s top 10 of their respective categories scheduled to be in Singapore - including men’s singles World No.1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark and women’s singles World No.2 Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei - tickets for the SBO were snapped up in record time.

Organisers, the Singapore Badminton Association, had to open up more seats to cater to the unprecedented demand. This year’s edition will see the crowd swell to over 6,000 for the first time since the tournament was held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

With a record crowd expected and star names from China, Indonesia and India set for a Singapore showdown, this year’s edition is set to be one of the most exciting in years.

World number two Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei is aiming for a hattrick of SBO titles. PHOTO: SINGAPORE BADMINTON OPEN

Favourable draw for Loh in men’s singles

With the Singapore crowd still waiting for a local men’s singles champion since Wee Choon Seng’s 1962 triumph, the Singapore faithful will be hoping that Loh can at least be the first Singaporean since Ronald Susilo in 2002 to make the men’s singles final.

His chances have been boosted by the withdrawal of Denmark’s World No.3 Anders Antonsen. The Dane’s absence means that Loh will not face any seeded player until the semi-finals, should he make it to the final four.

Click here for the Singapore Badminton Open draw.

Chinese badminton player He Bing Jiao in action at the Thailand Open. PHOTO: SINGAPORE BADMINTON OPEN

But to progress that far, he will first have to get the better of France’s Brice Leverdez, and then most likely Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto – who beat Loh in their only BWF World Tour meeting in 2019.

Loh, who crashed to a shock first-round exit at the hands of Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu at the Malaysia Open this week, will be looking to the SBO as a springboard to a return to form.

He said: “Although the results could have been better, I feel I am slowly getting back to my best after spending some time out with Covid in March.

“The next few weeks will be a busy period, with four tournaments in a month. It will be a good test for me and I look forward to the challenge.”

Second seed Anders Antonsen's has withdrawn from the Singapore Badminton Open. PHOTO: SINGAPORE BADMINTON OPEN

Tai hoping to win a hat-trick of SBO titles

Equally hopeful of a good run in Singapore is Chinese Taipei’s World No.2 women’s singles player Tai.

The 28-year-old, a two-time SBO winner, is the top seed in the women’s draw. But before she can make it a hat-trick of Singapore titles, she would first have to contend with a quality field that includes World No.4 Chen Yu Fei of China, World. 7 PV Sindhu of India and World No.8 Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand.

Said Tai, who comes into the SBO in good form after bagging the Super 1000 Indonesia Open title last month: “I got my first title in Singapore, it's a place that is full of memories. I am happy that I can go back to Singapore, a meaningful country to me, after so many years.”

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