SINGAPORE — Although injured world number one player Viktor Axelsen will be making an appearance in the upcoming KFF Singapore Badminton Open, fans can look forward to local hero Loh Kean Yew who will start the tournament against Hong Kong’s Lee Cheuk Yiu in the men’s singles match with the tournament held from June 6-11 at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Axelsen’s withdrawal was confirmed by event organisers Singapore Badminton Association in a statement; “We have received a formal withdrawal request from Badminton Denmark that due to an injury that requires medical attention and rest, Axelsen will not be able to participate in the tournament.”
Axelsen participated in the Sudirman Cup, where he played in the quarter-finals against Malaysia, but he retired merely five minutes into the match with Lee Zii Jia. Singapore also participated in the Sudirman Cup and was in Group A alongside Denmark, Egypt and host China.
Singapore lost to Denmark (4-1) and China (5-0) and won their final match 5-0 against Egypt. Axelsen played and won against Loh in the opening match but was rested by their coach in the team’s second and third matches against Egypt and China. Singapore ended the group stage in third place with a point, while China and Denmark advanced to the quarter-finals.
“It’s been four years since we last competed in China and it feels so good to be back! Enjoyed myself thoroughly both on and off court – many thanks to the lovely organisers, volunteers and fans for making us feel so welcomed, and creating such an amazing atmosphere for us players. Even though we didn’t make through past the group stage at this year’s Sudirman Cup, my teammates put up a good fight against the others and performed to our best abilities. Proud to call them my teammates and to be here as part of Team Singapore,” posted Loh on his social media after the Sudirman Cup.
Turning his attention to the Singapore Badminton Open, Loh’s previous encounter with Lee from Hong Kong was at the Badminton Asian Championships, which saw the Singapore shuttler emerge victorious in straight sets (21-19, 21-19). Should Loh proceed to the quarter-finals stage, he can seek redemption against Thailand’s Kunlavut Vitidsarn after falling short twice in 2023 at the Yonex Sunrise India Open and Petronas Malaysia Open.
“I’ll focus on one match at a time as everyone is a challenge no matter whom I come up against at this year’s KFF Singapore Badminton Open. I hope I’ll be able to perform to the best of my ability in front of the home crowd,” said Loh, who won the 2021 BWF World Championships, beating India’s Kidambi Srikanth 21-15, 22-20.
Bryan Long, the chairman of the KFF Singapore Badminton Open, expressed his excitement ahead of the tournament as fans can expect enthralling matches right from the start and witness the exceptional skills of these world-class athletes With the strongest ever field in the tournament’s history.
“Beyond the on-court action, this year’s KFF Singapore Badminton Open will be a true family affair as we introduce a carnival for the first time. Ticket holders can enjoy game booths, be entertained by captivating stage performers, and even meet their badminton idols for autograph sessions throughout the week,” said Long.
Top local women’s shuttler Yeo Jia Min faces a challenge in her first-round match against higher-ranked Zhang Yi Man from China. Yeo has fallen short against Zhang in a thrilling three-set encounter (18-21, 21-13, 16-21). Joining them in the lower half are three of the world’s top five players: South Korea’s An Se Young (2), Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying (3), and China’s He Bing Jiao (5).
In the mixed doubles category, Singaporean pair Terry Hee and Tan Wei Han seek redemption against Denmark’s Mathias Christiansen and Alexandra Bøje after their narrow defeat in straight sets (21-19, 21-18) at the Sudirman Cup. If they conquer their Danish opponents, they will likely face a tough test against defending champions and world no. 3 pair Dechapol Puavaranukroh and Sapsiree Taerattanachai in the subsequent round. Standing in the way of the ultimate victory in the upper half of the draw are the world’s top-ranked pair, Zheng Si Wei and Huang Ya Qiong.