Thursday, August 22, 2019
TEXT BY DEV SUKUMAR | BADMINTON PHOTO
A back problem that flared up in the middle of a hard contest could not prevent Yeo Jia Min from reaching her first major quarterfinal. The Singaporean battled through the pain and stubborn opponent Vu Thi Trang to land a last-eight place at the TOTAL BWF World Championships 2019 today.
Yeo, who shocked top seed Akane Yamaguchi in the second round, felt her back flare up again late in the second game and needed medical attention. Despite that, she soldiered on, even winning one 40-shot rally against Vu, who dashed to all corners and retrieved whatever was thrown at her. The Vietnamese forced a third game, and to Yeo’s credit, the Singaporean kept up her physical intensity.
It was on the 72nd minute, and after having three match points saved that Yeo closed it out 21-15 14-21 21-16.
“I’ve been dealing with some problems in my body,” revealed Yeo. “I tried to stretch it out a bit. I usually always play with some discomfort so I had to push myself. The problem will be there, so I had to focus on what I can do, and not focus on my body.
“I’m happy and excited to be in the quarterfinals. I played fast in the beginning but then relaxed in the second and that helped her come back. In the third game I focussed on my movement and shot quality.”
Yeo has had a promising season. Ranked 53 at the end of last year, she has moved up to 32. She finished last season with a quarterfinal finish at the Scottish Open, and went on to make more quarterfinals at the Thailand Masters, the Barcelona Spain Masters, the German Open and the Australian Open.
The big breakthrough at a major event had yet to come, but her upset of Yamaguchi and her defeat of Vu Thi Trang at the World Championships might well be a sign of things to come.