SINGAPORE – National shuttler Loh Kean Yew claimed the biggest scalp of his career as he shocked Japan’s world No. 1 and defending world champion Kento Momota 21-7, 17-21, 21-19 in 69 minutes on Thursday (Nov 25) to advance to the Indonesia Open quarter-finals.
The world No. 26 will face Denmark’s 21st-ranked Hans-Kristian Vittinghus at the Bali International Convention Center on Friday.
But the fearless Loh will fancy his chances of progressing deeper into the US$850,000 (S$1.16 million) Badminton World Federation World Tour Super 1000 event after conquering the off-colour Momota, who had won the Super 750 Indonesia Masters the previous week.
Displaying niftier footwork, the Singaporean continuously breached his opponent’s famed defence with delicate net play and a series of ferocious cross-court smashes to the southpaw’s backhand.
After being thumped in the first game in just 12 minutes, the 27-year-old Momota rallied from 9-2 down in the second game to force a decider.
In the final game, the Japanese looked like he had the upper hand at 14-9 as his less experienced rival made more unforced errors. But Loh fought his way back and required just one match point to seal the huge upset and his first win over Momota, who missed at the net, in two attempts.
Loh, 24, has been on a tear since his one-month training stint with Tokyo 2020 men’s singles champion Viktor Axelsen after the Olympics.
Not only did he win the Super 500 Hylo Open in Germany on Nov 7, he has also beaten a string of top players in the past month, including Chinese Taipei’s world No. 4 Chou Tien-chen, Malaysia’s All England champion Lee Zii Jia (seventh), Taiwanese Wang Tzu-wei (11th), Denmark’s Rasmus Gemke (13th) and India’s Lakshya Sen (19th).