PETALING JAYA: Loh Kean Yew (pic) is slowly rediscovering the form that saw him capture the 2021 Badminton World Championships title.
Yesterday, the Singaporean shuttler stunned Japan’s world No. 4 Kodai Naraoka 18-21, 21-16, 21-15 in the Korean Open to reach his first World Tour final this year.
World No. 8 Kean Yew incredibly came back from a game down and 4-12 behind in the second game to beat the shell-shocked Japanese in a thrilling last four match at the Jinnam Stadium in Yeosu.
It was Kean Yew’s first World Tour final since finishing runner-up at the Indian Open in January last year.
The 26-year-old has struggled to scale to similar heights after his historic world title win two years ago but looked close to his best against Naraoka.
Kean Yew had shown glimpses of his best form before this year when he finished runner-up to Indonesia’s world No. 2 Anthony Ginting at the Asian Championships in April but has not managed to perform well consistently.
He now has a good opportunity to win his first title since his success in the world meet.
Standing in his way in the final is Denmark’s world No. 16 Anders Antonsen.
The Dane also pulled off a huge upset when he toppled China’s world No. 6 Shi Yuqi 21-16, 24-22.
Based on the head-to-head records, both Kean Yew and Antonsen are evenly matched with one win each in their two meetings in international tournaments so far.
Meanwhile, the women’s singles final will be between home favourite An Se-young and Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying.
World No. 2 Se-young fought hard to overcome China’s reigning Olympics champion Chen Yufei 15-21, 21-8, 24-22 while world No. 4 Tzu-ying pulled the rug under Japan’s world No. 1 Akane Yamaguchi with a 21-17, 21-19 victory.
In the men’s doubles, India’s in-form pair Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty defeated China’s world No. 2 Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang 21-15, 24-22 to reach their fourth individual tournament final this year.
The Indian pair had already captured the Swiss Open, Indonesian Open and Asian Championships titles this year.
World No. 3 Satwiksairag-Chirag will take on Indonesia’s world No. 1 Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto in the final.
Fajar-Rian beat homesters Kang Min-hyuk-Seo-Seung-jae 17-21, 21-16, 21-18 in the other semi-final match.
Semi-finalsMen’s singles: Loh Kean Yew (Sin) bt Kodai Naraoka (Jpn) 18-21, 21-16, 21-15; Anders Antonsen (Den) bt Shi Yuqi (Chn) 21-16, 24-22.
Men’s doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty (Ind) bt Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang (Chn) 21-15, 24-22; Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto (Ina) bt Kang Min-hyuk-Seo-Seung-jae 17-21, 21-16, 21-18.
Women’s singles: An Se-young (Kor) bt Chen Yufei (Chn) 15-21, 21-8, 24-22; Tai Tzu-ying (Tpe) bt Akane Yamaguchi (Jpn) 21-17, 21-19.
Women’s doubles: Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn) bt Zhang Shuxian-Zheng Yu (Chn) 21-12, 21-12; Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor) bt Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn) 21-16, 19-21, 21-12.
Mixed doubles: Feng Yanzhe-Huang Dongping (Chn) bt Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha) 21-18, 21-14; Jiang Zhenbang-Wei Yaxin (Chn) bt Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn) 21-12, 20-22, 21-12.