Yeoh Seng Zoe (right) on the podium after winning the Austrian Open on Sunday

Sparring his way to the top

INDEPENDENT shuttler Yeoh Seng Zoe intends to make the most of his stint as a sparring partner at Badminton Ireland to establish himself as one of the World Tour regulars.

The 24-year-old, a former national Under-21 champion, won the Austria Open in Graz after beating Magnus Johannesen of Denmark 21-14, 21-15 on Sunday.

In the semi-finals, Seng Zoe stunned Taiwanese third seed Lee Chia Hao 24-22, 19-21, 21-17 in an energy-sapping battle.

It was Seng Zoe’s third title of his career after the 2019 Nepal International and the Irish Open in November last year.

Seng Zoe is enjoying the best run of his career as the Austria Open final was his third in as many tournaments.

He also made the Swedish Open final in January but conceded a walkover to compatriot Jacky Kok following a knee injury.

“I am happy and super tired at the same time,” the world No 133 Seng Zoe told Timesport on Sunday.

“It is tough for me to cope as I have not been regularly playing since I got injured in Sweden.

“The satellite tournaments are challenging because they usually run for only four days, so you got to play a couple of matches in a day.

“Frankly, it feels good just to know that my body is getting better because the last thing I want is to get injured again.”

Having built a good momentum since late last year, Seng Zoe is eager to work his way up the world rankings by excelling in the European satellite circuit until December.

“The goal is to break into the top 60, so that I get to play in World Tour tournaments by next year,” he said.

“I will be based in Ireland until the end of this year after landing a full-time role as a sparring partner with the national team.

“With Badminton Ireland, I can train and go out for competitions.

“So, I hope to capitalise on this to bring my badminton career to greater heights.”

While another independent player revelled in the glory, several BA of Malaysia (BAM) players are still finding it hard to make the grade.

BAM’s Lee Shun Yang, Shaqeem Eiman Shahyar and Ong Ken Yon all lost in the opening rounds in Graz.

Ken Yon and Shaqeem were knocked out by Taiwan’s Yang Yang in the qualifying round.

Shun Yang, after negotiating through the qualifiers, lost to Slovenia’s Miha Ivanic in the first round.

WhatsApp chat