At last, Loh Kean Yew ends 27-month BWF World Tour title drought as he wins Madrid Spain Masters

Former world champion finds joy in Spain again, as he subdues Toma Junior Popov in three tense games to win Super 300 tournament

Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew wins the 2024 Madrid Spain Masters tournament.
Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew wins the 2024 Madrid Spain Masters tournament. (PHOTO: Shi Tang/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The drought is finally over. In the same country where he clinched his monumental world title in December 2021, Loh Kean Yew has once again found joy in Spain, winning the Madrid Spain Masters on Sunday (31 March), his first title since that BWF World Championships win in Huelva.

The 26-year-old took 58 tense minutes before finally edging France's Toma Junior Popov 21-11, 15-21, 22-20 to end his 27-month title drought and clinch his first BWF World Tour title since the 2021 World Championships.

When Popov's final shot sailed wide, Loh sank to his knees and let out a long roar - a mixture of joy and relief - as he was able to seal the deal at last. The world No.11 had come in second at the Thailand Masters in February, as well as at last year's Korea Open and Badminton Asia Championships in Dubai.

See-saw battle finally swings Loh's way

Against Popov, whom he had not lost in four previous meetings, Loh took the initiative first, befuddling the Frenchman with deceptive shots to quickly take the first game. However, the Singapore shuttler lost momentum when playing in the same direction as the draft in the second game, as his shots sailed out far too often.

In the nail-biting third game, Loh steadied himself and took an 11-7 lead, but the court switchover again caused him problems as Popov refused to give up. The French world No.25 - who had won the Spain Masters in 2021 - drew level at 18-all and 20-all, before Loh finally put him away.

Confidence boost ahead of Paris Olympics

While Loh's title win came at the modest Super 300 tournament - among the second-lowest tier of competitions on the BWF World Tour - it was nonetheless a good confidence-booster for the Singaporean as he gears up for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

In the past week, he has beaten the likes of Chinese Taipei's Huang Yu-kai (world No.60), Popov's brother Christo (world No.21), Denmark's Mads Christophersen (world No.55) and Chinese Taipei's Wang Tzu-wei (world No.24) en route to the final.

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