VICTOR Hong Kong Open continued with round of 16 matches at the Coliseum today. After eliminating world ranked number one Viktor Axelsen in the men’s singles opening round, Lee Chia Hao of Chinese Taipei stunned another seeded player in his giant killing campaign as he came back from behind to beat Lee Zii Jia of Malaysia, the 2022 Asian Championships winner. In the women’s singles, two seeded players, Akane Yamaguchi of Japan and Carolina Marin of Spain, were both given some hard time before coming back to win their matches.
Lee Zii Jia
Lee Chia Hao
Lee, 24, became the fifth player to beat Axelsen this season after his first round victory over the Danes. Against Malaysia top player Lee, the Chinese Taipei shuttler continued his fine form as the two players share an equal head-to-head record of winning two times each. Chia Hao got off to a winning start in the first game with a 8-3 lead but his Malaysian opponent fought back fiercely before taking the first game 21-19. Chia Hao leveled the overall score to 1-all, also with a 21-19 score in the second, forcing the match into the third and deciding game. In a close battle that saw the two players exchange the lead for several times, the score was locked at 20-all before Chia Hao won it after deuce 22-20.
Lee Chia Hao celebrates after his victory over Lee Zii Jia
With two consecutive wins over strong opponents, Chai Hao could not believe it was true. “Like what happened yesterday, I could not response after the victory. In fact, I never expect to win both but was quite happy with my performance today as there were also moments that I enjoyed a lot.”
The Chinese Taipei player said he was struggling to find his form recently and could not adjust his mental condition in time, leading to some undesirable results. But he was quite happy with his performance in Hong Kong, especially he was able to readjust his game when the opponent chased fiercely from behind. “I didn’t think too much, just trying to take it point by point and treasure the opportunity of playing against these top players,” he said.
Third seed Carolina Marin of Spain needed three games to win her first round match and it was the same level of difficulty in her second match. The 2023 World Championships runner-up lost the first game 21-18 to Yvonne Li of Germany before registering two 21-14, 21-11 win to reach the quarterfinals.
The 2016 Rio Olympic champion said she lack time to recover after last month’s World Championships and found it difficult to prepare two consecutive tournaments in China and Hong Kong respectively. Asked why she could come back from one game down to win, Marin attributed it to her ability of adjusting the rhythm. “It’ not easy to play here as the environment of the court’s two sides are quite different,” she said. “The most important thing is to find the right rhythm especially when you are coming from behind.”
Ranked second in the world, Akane Yamaguchi of Japan is the top seed in Hong Kong under the absence of world leading player An Se Young of South Korea. Yamaguchi beat Gao Fang Jie of China in straight games in the first round but found Kirsty Gilmour of Scotland a hard nut to crack in the next match. Gilmour, who ranked 28th in the world, surprisingly took the first game 21-7 before the Japanese levelled the overall score to 1-all with a 21-16 win. Yamaguchi built a 17-9 lead in the third game and just when she came close to winning, she lost the momentum, allowing her opponent to come back and level at 19-all. Yamaguchi only settled the match after a narrow win 26-24 after deuce.
Zhang Beiwen beat Aya Ohori of Japan after three games 21-17, 18-21, 21-15
Sixth seed Han Yue reaches the last 8 after a 2-1 win over P Wardani of Indonesia
Wang Zhi Yi won the first game and was leading 11-4 in the second when her Thai rival retired from the match
In the men’s singles, world ranked 20th Ng Tze Yong of Malaysia marched into the last eight after beating another higher ranked player. Having stunned world ranked seventh player Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei in the first round, the Malaysian toppled Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan, world ranked 14th, in straight games 21-12, 21-11 to reach the quarterfinals.
Ng was pleased with his performance especially in the control of the shuttlecock and looked forward to challenging a spot in the semi-finals. “I have yet to reach last four in a tournament this year and need to work harder after making it to the quarter-finals,” he said. “I am confident but will not think too much, just do my best.”