Badminton: Singapore’s Loh Kean Yew wins Spain Masters, first title since 2021 World

SINGAPORE: Singapore badminton player Loh Kean Yew won the Spain Masters on Sunday (Mar 31), ending his title drought in the same country where he picked up his World Championship title more than two years ago.

Loh, the world number 11, overcame France’s Toma Junior Popov 21-11, 15-21, 22-20 in Madrid, clinching his first title since the 2021 World Championships.

According to data from the Badminton World Federation (BWF), it was Loh’s fifth career meeting with Popov. He has won all five matches against his French opponent, who is ranked 25th in the world.

This is Loh’s third BWF World Tour title after the Thailand Masters in 2019 and Hylo Open in 2021.

Loh looked imperious in the first game, pulling away from his opponent early on and taking a 11-3 lead at the interval.

In contrast, Popov – whose younger brother Christo was eliminated in the round of 16 by Loh – could not get a grip on the proceedings.

But that all turned on its head after the change of sides.

Just like he did against Chinese Taipei’s Wang Tzu-wei in the semi-finals, Loh struggled in the second set.

Popov pounced and raced to a 19-11 lead. A late flurry of points from Loh reduced the arrears but it did not stop the Frenchman.

With the title in the balance, both players dug deep in the third set. Loh took a good lead at the interval, but Popov rattled off three consecutive points to cut the deficit.

With the Singaporean just three points from victory, Popov clawed his way back to a 19-18 lead.

But Loh showed his mental fortitude and kept his composure to see out the match.

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