Indians, Kashyap Parupalli and Ajay Jayaram (featured image), scored thrilling victories over higher-ranked opponents in opening-round Men’s Singles matches at the Yonex Sunrise Hong Kong Open today.
While No. 23 Parupalli edged past No. 10 Jan O Jorgensen in one of the closest matches of the year, 24-22 20-22 22-20, Jayaram held off recent China Open finalist, Wang Zhengming of China, 22-20 23-21. Jayaram saved two game points in the second game to squeeze past Wang.
The latter exited the tournament along with compatriots Chen Jin (3), Chen Yuekun, Du Pengyu; Chen Jin being surprised in straight games by Germany’s Marc Zwiebler (21-14 21-14). China’s three losses in Men’s Singles means all their hopes are now on Chen Long (2) in that category. Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat also bowed out, though stretching young Japanese Takuma Ueda to three games.
“I know Taufik is near the end of his career, so this was my chance to beat him,” said 23-year-old Ueda who prevailed 19-21 23-21 21-16.
“I was nervous initially but, after Taufik won the first game, I calmed down and played better.”
Parupalli’s match against Jorgensen of Denmark was the day’s standout result. Jorgensen saved four game points in the opening game which Parupalli took 24-22. The Dane then held off a fightback from the Indian in the second, as Parupalli levelled an 18-20 deficit, but could not prevent Jorgensen from clinching it at 22-20. The pattern reversed in the decider, with Jorgensen fighting back from 15-19 to holding match point at 20-19, but Parupalli held firm to grab the next three points.
In Women’s Singles, the highest-profile loser was seventh seed Jiang Yanjiao of China, beaten by experienced Japanese Eriko Hirose in a close match, 19-21 22-20 21-18. Another three-game encounter saw veteran China-born Dutchwoman, Yao Jie (above), calling time on her career. The former European champion lost a gritty match to Thailand’s Busanan Ongbumrungpan, 21-8 20-22 21-19, and promptly announced her retirement.
It was not a happy campaign for Hong Kong players in their home Superseries. World No. 14 Hu Yun was the only winner out of seven singles competitors. Apart from Hu, the others – including Ng Ka Long, Wong Wing Ki and Chan Yan Kit in Men’s Singles, and Yip Pui Yin and Chan Tsz Ka in Women’s Singles – were first-round casualties. The scene was not any better in doubles. Five pairs in Women’s Doubles, including Poon Lok Yan and Tse Ying Suet (right), and one in Mixed Doubles were eliminated. Hu held off a late charge from world No. 6 Du Pengyu of China, 21-17 22-20 and will take on Abdul Latif of Malaysia next. Wong Wing Ki, who said he was looking forward to playing in the grand Hong Kong Coliseum for the second time, was beaten in three games by Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto.
“This is my sixth Hong Kong Open,” Wong said before the match. “Earlier, the hall was much smaller. I like it here because of the atmosphere, and my friends will be cheering for me.”
Meanwhile, both the top two seeds – Lee Chong Wei (Malaysia) and Chen Long (China) – progressed into the next round easily. In the Men’s Doubles, the prominent upset was that of fourth seeds Bodin Issara/Maneepong Jongjit, beaten 21-18 21-10 by Lee Sheng Mu/Tsai Chia Hsin of Chinese Taipei.
Double Olympic gold medallist, Zhao Yunlei of China, advanced to the second round in both Women’s and Mixed Doubles with her respective partners – Tian Qing and Zhang Nan (left, with Zhao).