Loh Kean Yew, Lee Zii Jia to resume rivalry in Indonesia Open quarter-finals

·2 min read
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew (left) and Malaysia shuttler Lee Zii Jia. (PHOTOS: Getty Images)
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew (left) and Malaysia shuttler Lee Zii Jia. (PHOTOS: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Rivals since childhood, Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew and Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia will do battle again in the Indonesia Open quarter-finals on Friday (17 June), after successfully negotiating their respective last-16 ties.

World No.9 Loh took just 37 minutes to beat France's world No.26 Toma Junior Popov 21-16, 21-9 at the Istoran Senayan Stadium in Jakarta on Thursday. It was his second victory over Popov in as many weeks, after also defeating the Frenchman at last week's Indonesia Masters tournament, which was also held at the same venue.

Meanwhile, world No.5 Lee was also trouble-free in his last-16 tie with India's world No.30 Sameer Verma, as he comfortably won 21-10, 21-13 in 41 minutes.

This sets up an intriguing tie between the reigning world champion Loh and the current Asian champion Lee. Loh had memorably won the Badminton World Championships men's singles title in the Spanish city of Huelva last December, while Lee did the same at last month's Badminton Asia Championships in Manila.

The pair of 24-year-olds have been facing against each other since they were youth shuttlers in Malaysia. Loh, who was born in Penang before becoming a Singapore citizen in 2015, had regularly faced Lee in Malaysia's national junior circuit. He most notably defeated Lee in the Under-12 final of the National Junior Grand Prix Finals in 2009.

However, Lee has a better head-to-head professional record against Loh, with three wins in five previous encounters. In their most recent match, Lee easily defeated Loh 21-6, 21-14 in February's Badminton Asia Team Championships. Loh's last win against Lee came at the Hylo Open in Germany last November, when Lee retired midway through the third game.

Loh, who was runner-up in last year's Indonesia Open, open his campaign this year by defeating South Korea's Heo Kwang-hee in the round of 32 on Tuesday, while Lee also advanced after beating Thailand's Sitthikom Thammasin on the same day.

The Indonesia Open is one of three annual tournaments to be granted Super 1000 level on the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour circuit, and boasts a total prize purse of US$1.2 million (S$1.7 million).

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