SINGAPORE — After a tough battle in his opening-round tie to start off the new year, Loh Kean Yew had an easier time in the second round of the Malaysian Open on Thursday (12 January).
The former world champion took just 39 minutes to dispatch his second straight Chinese opponent, beating world No.12 Zhao Junpeng 21-15, 21-8 to sweep into the quarter-finals at Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur.
Following a hard-fought win against world No.20 Li Shifeng on Wednesday, Loh was imperious throughout his last-16 tie with Zhao as he seized control early in each game.
The world No.6 Singaporean held a 9-4 lead in the first game before Zhao fought back to tie the game at 14-all. However, Loh captured seven of the next eight points to claim the first game.
It was virtually a one-way traffic in the second game, as Loh opened up 8-2 and 14-8 leads to seal the match comfortably.
Loh will next face a Thai opponent in the quarter-finals, with Kantaphon Wangcharoen and Kunlavut Vitidsarn - who defeated Loh in last year's SEA Games gold medal match - facing each other for a spot in the last-eight.
The third seed's path to the final was made easier when second-seeded Malaysian Lee Zii Jia was bundled out of the Open by fast-rising Japanese star Kodai Naraoka, losing 21-13, 17-21, 19-21 in the opening round on Wednesday.
Another opponent whom Loh had trouble beating, India's world No.10 Lakshya Sen, was also eliminated in the first round by his compatriot H.S. Prannoy.
Besides Loh, two doubles pairs remain in the Open - women's doubles duo Jin Yujia and Crystal Wong, and mixed doubles pair Terry Hee and Jessica Tan.
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