Loh Kean Yew’s electric pace carried him into the men’s singles final of the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2021, where he takes on India’s Kidambi Srikanth.
The Singaporean’s pace, explosive attacking game and calm front court play were a potent mix that Denmark’s Anders Antonsen couldn’t unravel. The Dane saved six first game points but could not stop Loh from taking the match in straight games, 23-21 21-14.
Loh’s entry into the final has come in the wake of a stunning post-Olympics season which saw him win the Hylo Open and finish runner-up at the Indonesia Masters. He and Kidambi are the first from their country to enter the men’s singles final of the World Championships.
“I didn’t expect to come all the way into the final,” said Loh. “I’m happy I was consistent, that’s what I’ve been working on. It wasn’t easy, we were struggling to match each other, and I’m glad I could last. I’m glad to make history as the first Singaporean in the final, but it’s not over yet and I have to focus on the next match.”
In contrast to the second semifinal, the first had been a more dogged battle that lasted 69 minutes. Kidambi was pushed to the limit by younger compatriot Lakshya Sen in a three-game thriller before the world No.14 took his place in the final.
It will be his final since the YONEX-SUNRISE India Open in March 2019.
The all-India semifinal was finely balanced at 16-all in the third before Kidambi found the reserves needed to edge his 22-year-old opponent.
Throughout the 69-minute match, Sen showed no sign that he was intimidated at being in his first major semifinal. While Kidambi stayed true to his attacking game, Sen kept a steady hand at the net and pounced on the openings he created. By the third game both players were frequently on their knees, flagging from the high pace, and eventually Kidambi’s greater experience and presence of mind titled the encounter his way.
“I really wanted to play my best and see where I am,” said Kidambi. “I’m just very happy to pull this off. I’m happy I could play without making too many mistakes, and even though I did make a few, I could play well when it mattered.
“It was a three-setter, 21-17 in the third, and it can’t get any closer. At the end both of us were tired and I didn’t want to make any mistakes.”
♦In-form Japanese duo Takuro Hoki/Yugo Kobayashi are in their fifth final from six tournaments. Champions at the Denmark Open, Indonesia Masters and HSBC BWF World Tour Finals 2021, Hoki/Kobayashi will attempt to become the first Japanese to win men’s doubles gold at the World Championships. They take on China’s He Ji Ting/Tan Qian who beat Kim Astrup/Anders Skaarup Rasmussen in three games.
♦Chen Qing Chen/Jia Yi Fan, 2017 champions, overcame defending titlists Mayu Matsumoto/Wakana Nagahara 21-15 21-12. Facing them in the final will be second seeds Lee Sohee/Shin Seungchan who beat compatriots Kim Soyeong/Kong Heeyong 21-18 21-17.
♦The mixed doubles final will feature Yuta Watanabe/Arisa Higashino against Dechapol Puavaranukroh/Sapsiree Taerattanachai. History beckons both pairs, for neither Japan nor Thailand have won this category.