Christo Popov is through to his first Super 750 quarterfinal.
Popov, buoyant after his surprise straight games victory, said: “I waited so long for this type of result, it’s my biggest yet. I played a solid game, and even if the conditions were difficult, it’s the same for every player.”
The pressure was palpable from the word go and Loh, hoping to be the first local winner in 13 years, succumbed unexpectedly 21-10 23-21 in 45 minutes.
Asked if he could sense Loh’s trepidation from the opposite end, the world No.35 who also plays men’s doubles with elder bother Toma, said: “The whole stadium was rooting for the local superstar. So of course, he might have felt some pressure. Maybe that’s why he made mistakes during crucial points. The fact I was dominating the first game added unwanted stress and made it difficult for him to come back.”
Though despondent, Loh is eager to have another go next edition.
“Sadly this is it this year. Hopefully next year I can last longer,” said the fourth-seeded world No.5.
Popov got his match tactics right, staying patient in the rallies at a hall known for fast shuttles, to get the job done and silence the expectant audience. The 21-year-old believes his script-defying feat is not a one-off.
“I always knew I could compete with the best players. But consistency at the top isn’t easy. My hope now is to kick on and keep my game up during a whole tournament on a regular basis,” he said.
“This result shows we are working in the right way, the right direction. It motivates me to push even harder and try my best at the upcoming tournaments in the Olympic qualification period.”