Loh Kean Yew and Lee Zii Jia ready for an intense second-round battle at the All England Open 2024

Loh Kean Yew, the 2021 world champion, and Malaysian star Lee Zii Jia will compete for the eighth time in their careers in the last 16 of the 2024 All England Open Badminton Championships on Thursday, March 14 in Birmingham. Both men won their first-round tests on Wednesday (March 13), with Loh overcoming Ng Ka Long Angus of Hong Kong and Lee defeating Japan’s sixth seed Naraoka Kodai. Angus had never beaten Loh in their previous three meetings, and that trend continued in Birmingham on Wednesday, as Loh finished in just 35 minutes.

Loh pulled away from 4-4 in the first game, part of a stretch of seven straight points that saw him go from a 2-4 deficit to a 9-4 lead, and win the set 21-12. The 26-year-old Singapore shuttler also led by seven points at one point in the second game, and despite Angus’s efforts to reduce the gap, Loh won it 21-12, 21-17.

Lee, on the other hand, has only won once in four matches with Naraoka, and that was in Birmingham in the quarter-finals last year. However, he duplicated the feat on Wednesday in a closely contested match. The 25-year-old Malaysian appeared to be in command in the first game, leading by five points before Naraoka tied the score at 11-11. Whereas in the past, this might have caused him to falter, Lee powered on to win the opener 21-12, giving Naraoka only one of the final 11 points.

Lee appeared to be on his way to an easy victory when he gained a match point in the second, leading 20-12. But Naraoka found a second wind as he pushed to stay in the tournament, scoring seven straight points. Lee eventually scored the final point, completing the 21-12, 21-19 triumph in 49 minutes.
Loh in his recent interview admitted that he has been in an extended period of inconsistent form. I think it’s not only recently, but more of this whole year of qualification period, I think there were a lot of ups and downs, Loh told the reporters. Of course, it would be better to be more consistent but having ups and downs is normal, he added.

People can say whatever they want and it’s not going to be possible to cancel out their noise. So, I’m just trying to focus on myself and I just do what I do every day, and I just keep trying to be better and keep improving myself, Loh concluded.