Three nations sent many players to the second round in men’s singles at the Hong Kong Open on Wednesday, but remarkably China was not among them, as Hu Yun and Marc Zwiebler both pulled off big upsets.
By Thibault Bluy, Badzine Correspondent live in Hong Kong. Photos: Edwin Leung, Badmintonphoto (live)
What looked to be a highlight of the day, with Rajiv Ouseph of England facing Sho Sasaki of Japan, turned out to be less exciting than expected as Sasaki took an easy victory 21-13, 21-16. It was obvious from early on that Ouseph was not on form as he was rapidly down 1-6 against a strong Sho.
“I had some difficulties adapting to the conditions. The shuttle was quick, I had problems with my lifting and he attacked a lot,” the long-limbed Brit said after the match.
Sasaki, the opposite in stature of his English opponent, easily won the first game 21-13. He continued to walk through during the beginning of the second game, to lead 11-5, and although the British player showed resistance to recover to 16-16, this was not enough as Sasaki accelerated with powerful smashes to emerge victorious, taking the second game, 21-16.
“He played okay and I did not play well,” said a lucid Ouseph after the match. Obviously disappointed, he admitted that his adversary has progressed since they played against each other 5 years ago. Sasaki has now qualified for the next round, where he will play against the young Danish player, Viktor Axelsen.
Mark Zwiebler followed Sasaki’s example, leading his Chinese opponent Chen Jin for the whole first game after establishing a significant lead, eventually winning 21-14. His domination was even more complete in the second game, when the score rapidly reached 9-1 in his favour. Chen Jin countered a little towards the end, but it was too little too late as the left-handed German won the second by the same score, 21-14.
Straight after his match, Zwiebler commented, “Of course I feel good! I lost against him last time in the Olympics, but I have beaten him the time before in the All England, about one year ago. He always has trouble to adapt to my game. I won the first set a couple of times, and then generally it’s all decided in the second set.
“At the beginning, everything turned on my favour. All the net were for me, also roll overs and on the lines… It was part of a gift! I’m pretty satisfied.
“I have to beat Vittinghus tomorrow, I lost against him last time. I will play my matches and then I will see. Everyone can play, there is no open draw. The level of players is very close together.”
The biggest surprise of the day was saved till the end with the exploits of local player Hu Yun, who defeated the number 4 seed, Du Pengyu of China. Despite being one of the last matches of the day, the public remained and gave him a thunder of applause when he left the court after a tight match, the score finishing 21-17, 22-20.
He later spoke of his happiness in winning at home, as when he plays outside Hong Kong, people can’t normally see it. The draw is now quite open for him, and he will play the Malaysian Mohd Arif Abdul Latif in the next round, who had earlier overcome the Russian Vladimir Ivanov.
Arif is one of three Malaysians to advance, the others being Lee Chong Wei (pictured) and Liew Daren and Sho Sasaki is also accompanied by two compatriots into the second round. Meanwhile, Chen Long, winner over Hong Kong’s Wong Wing Ki, was the only one of 5 Chinese shuttlers to survive the first day of main round action. He faces Liew Daren on Thursday.
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