VICTOR Hong Kong Open continued on Wednesday with first round action at the Coliseum. World top ranked player Viktor Axelsen of Denmark was stunned by qualifier Lee Chia Hao of Chinese Taipei in the men’s singles as the Danes lost in straight games 21-16, 21-10. Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia also beat seventh seed Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei 21-15, 21-19 while Tai Tzu Ying, also from Chinese Taipei, retired in her match because of injuries.
Lee Chia Hao
Top seed Axelsen, who just won the China Open on Sunday, came to Hong Kong with only three days to prepare for his first round match against the world ranked 37th player. Although he was able to take the lead in the opening stages, Axelsen could not pull away the score from his opponent who took five points in a row after the interval and wrapped the first game up.
Axelsen was still in struggle in the second game as Lee extended his feat to take the game and sealed victory in a mere 33 minutes. “All credit to my opponent as he played far better than me today,” he said.
Lee, 24, said he never expected to beat the top player and could not react after his victory. “I felt happy of the opportunity of meeting him and excited. My aim was to play against him in every single point and hopefully to learn from the top player. Win or lose is another matter,” he said. “I feel he did not play very well and maybe my form is better today and luck is also on my side. If I meet him again, I will try to mount challenges and see how I can perform.”
The encounter between Ng and Chou caught a lot of attention in the afternoon session. Chou, the seventh seed, is leading the head-to-head between the duo with two wins and one defeat but Ng beat his rival in straight games when they last met in June. Ranked 20 in the world, Ng built up an early lead in the match before pulling away with a five-point advantage midway through the first game. The Malaysian then took the first game 21-15 and continued his dominance in the opening stage of the second. But Chou worked hard to put himself back to the table and leveled the score at 18-all. That’s the best he could offer, however as Ng won the second 21-19 and the match in straight games.
Chou Tien Chen
Ng Tze Yong
It was the first Hong Kong Open for 23-year-old Ng, who paid high tributes to the atmosphere of the Hung Hom venue despite some strong air current that might have affected the game. Ng attributed his victory to his persistence. “The key factor was that I never gave up a single point,” he said. “It was a tough battle and I am sure the victory can boost my confidence.” The winner said he did not set any specific target in the tournament, only wanted to keep his consistent game and played good badminton in every match.
Tai Tzu Ying
Tai Tzu Ying, who was trying to capture a record fourth Hong Kong Open title after victories in 2014, 2016 and 2017 in the women’s singles, subdued. Against compatriot Hsu Wen Chi, Tai, the second seed, lost her first game 21-10 and chose to retire in the second during the interval when she was down 3-11 because of a shoulder injury.
Tai, who has already planned to retire next year, thanked the fans for their support. “From arriving at the venue to starting in the court, they gave me huge support,” said Tai, who is likely to bid farewell to the Hong Kong Open after considering not coming to the same tournament next year.