Injured Wang says she's sorry to disappoint fans

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 November, 2007, 12:00am

Wang Chen made an emotional apology to her home crowd yesterday for withdrawing from the Super Series Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open because of injury.

A neck problem forced the SAR's top player to pull out before her first-round match against compatriot Zhou Mi in the singles at Queen Elizabeth Stadium.

'I really wanted to start as there are not too many opportunities to play in front of my home crowd,' said Wang, who was seeded sixth in the HK$2 million tournament.

'I came to the court for practice on Monday morning and everything looked fine. But after that session, a pain developed in my neck and just got worse. With the doctor's advice, I had no option but to forfeit the match.'

Wang's absence means Zhou, making her debut in the Hong Kong Open, is through to the second round and will meet Eriko Hirose of Japan. The latter thrashed Eva Lee of the United States 21-7, 21-11 in the opening round.

The former world number one, who moved to Hong Kong in January, said she had saved some energy by avoiding a potentially tough clash with Wang, but it also deprived her of the chance of match experience.

Wang prevailed in three games when the two SAR players last met at the Japan Open two months ago.

'I only knew Wang had withdrawn from the match after I arrived in the stadium,' said Zhou. 'But anyway I still need to work hard if I want to get better results in the tournament.'

Ranked 13th in the world, Zhou is competing for an Olympic place with Wang and Yip Pui-yin, the world number nine.

Elsewhere, second seed Zhang Ning of China struggled to beat Petya Nedelcheva of Bulgaria 21-19, 21-18. The Athens Olympic champion admitted she was not in her best form as she lacked proper training.

Malaysian Wong Mew Choo, the newly crowned China Open champion, was upset by Salakjit Ponsana of Thailand, 16-21, 21-7, 21-10.