SINGAPORE — Loh Kean Yew began his new year on a winning note on Wednesday (11 January), as the former world champion progressed into the round of 16 at the Malaysian Open with a hard-fought victory over China's Li Shifeng.
The current world No.6 took 51 minutes to subdue his world No.20 opponent 21-19, 23-21 at the Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur to set up a last-16 clash with another Chinese shuttler, world No.12 Zhao Junpeng.
While it was a straight-games victory for the third-seeded Loh, the match was anything but straightforward, as the 25-year-old had to fight tooth and nail with Li to clinch each game.
Li had started off strongly, pulling away for a 16-9 lead in the opening game. But Loh began to find his feet, pulling level at 16-all and 19-all before taking the final three points.
It was a see-saw battle in the second game, with neither player managing to lead by more than three points. This time, it was Loh who saw his 20-18 slip away as Li caught up to 20-all, but the Singaporean kept his nerve to finally put Li away.
There was also good news for Singapore in the mixed doubles, as husband-and-wife duo Terry Hee and Jessica Tan swept into the round of 16 with a 21-16, 21-10 victory over Germany's Jones Ralfy Jansen and Linda Efler.
The Commonwealth Games gold medallists will face the second-seeded Thai duo of Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai, who also eased into the next round with a 21-14, 21-14 win over compatriots Supat Jomkoh and Supissara Paewsampran.
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