Badminton: S'pore's Loh Kean Yew ends two-year title drought at Dutch Open

SINGAPORE – National shuttler Loh Kean Yew has won his first international tournament in two years after beating top seeded Indian Lakhsya Sen 21-12, 21-16 in 36 minutes to claim the Dutch Open singles title the Topsportcentrum Almere on Sunday (Oct 17).

This is his first victory over Sen, who had drawn first blood in their only other encounter in the second round of the 2019 China Masters.

For winning his sixth international title, his first since 2019 when he memorably beat the legendary Lin Dan in the Thailand Masters final, the 24-year-old also picked up a cheque for 1,200 euros (S$1,900).

This is world No. 41 Loh’s first tournament since his Tokyo Olympics group-stage exit in July, and he displayed a high level of court management and an impressive array of decisive set-ups, smashes and drop shots to put world No. 25 Sen on the back foot and complete the tournament without dropping a game.

A one-month training stint with Olympic champion Viktor Axelsen in Dubai from August to September had helped Loh sharpen his game.

Familiarity was a factor as well, as 20-year-old Sen was also part of Axelsen’s entourage along with Canada’s Brian Yang, England’s Toby Penty, Sweden’s Felix Burestedt and two 19-year-old Danish sparring partners Axel Parkhoi and Marcus Viscovich.

Loh then trained with the French national team at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance near Paris in the subsequent three weeks.

He will remain in Europe to play in three more tournaments – the Denmark Open, French Open and Hylo Open in Germany – until November in a bid to improve his world rankings and secure a more favourable seeding and draw in bigger tournaments.

Meanwhile, Loh’s older brother Kean Hean is also in the hunt for the men’s doubles title at the Dutch Open as he pairs with Terry Hee to take on Malaysia’s sixth seeds Tan Wee Kiong and Tan Kian Meng in the final.

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