Loh Kean Yew wins Spain Masters, ends 833-day title drought since 2021 World Championship

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew ends title drought at Spain Masters

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew tasted his first tournament win since the 2021 World Championship with a victory at the Spain Masters over Toma Junior Popov of France.

The series went to a nail-biting 22-20 in Game 3 after Loh took the lead in Game 1.

It ends his 833-day wait for a title, for which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong congratulated him.

In an interview with media outlets following the win, Loh said that although he feared the worst, he remained patient and was happy and relieved to have broken his duck.

Loh Kean Yew wins Spain Masters title

In the final held on Sunday (31 March), Loh took the lead in Game 1 over Popov, surging to a 21-11 win.

Loh, who ranks 11th in the world, won Game 1 in just 14 minutes.

But he started to struggle in the second game and Popov took over, winning 21-15 and forcing a third game.

The third game then went down to the wire — it took Loh two match points to secure the win after going down 18-19.

He told The Straits Times (ST): “The thought of winning did cross my mind when I was leading 18-14 in the decider but I kept trying to push it away because it was affecting me.”

“When I was down 18-19, I feared the worst but still…stayed patient in the rally for the opportunity to kill. At the final point, I was really happy and relieved to have finally won another title.”

Source: @sgbadminton on Instagram

Addressing his track record of reaching five finals but failing at the last hurdle each time, Loh told Channel NewsAsia (CNA): “Even if people don’t say anything, I have my own expectations. Which athlete doesn’t want to win?”

“Whether it is pressure from others or myself, I obviously have that (pressure).”

PM Lee congratulates shuttler

Many rose to congratulate Loh on his victory, including PM Lee.

“Congratulations to Team Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew for winning the title at the Spain Masters! Kean Yew emerged victorious in a hard-fought win over his French opponent,” PM Lee said in a Facebook post dedicated to Loh on Sunday (31 March).

“Keep up the amazing work! We are all proud of you!” he added.

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Featured image adapted from BWF — Badminton World Federation on Facebook.

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