Zhou wins Super Series title in Seoul
Zhou Mi won her first Super Series title for Hong Kong yesterday, taking the Korean Open singles title, but it's too soon for her to start counting on Olympic qualification.
The 28-year-old (pictured), who started playing for Hong Kong eight months ago after coming from the mainland, achieved her biggest success so far when she defeated Lu Lan, of China, in the final of the US$300,000 tournament in Seoul - 21-18, 15-21, 21-15.
'Zhou did exceptionally well in the rubber set, showing great skill and patience,' said Hong Kong coach Chan Chi-choi. 'The victory will definitely give her a tremendous morale boost as she has proved she is among the world's best.'
Zhou overcame compatriot Yip Pui-yin, Athens Olympic champion Zhang Ning, of China, and home-crowd favourite Jun Jae-youn, of South Korea, before upsetting third seed Lu, one of the fastest-improving players on the tour, in the final.
Zhou was world number one when representing China and a bronze medallist in Athens, but a nagging knee injury forced her to leave the national squad. She then chose to start over in Hong Kong, arriving in January 2007 under the government's Quality Migrants Admission Scheme.
Climbing back from a ranking outside the world's top 200, Zhou now ranks 11th, just one place behind compatriot Yip, while Hong Kong's top player, Wang Chen, is sixth. Only two players can qualify for the Beijing Games from Hong Kong, and they must be in the world's top 16 in April.
'It's still too early to say who will go to Beijing at this stage,' said Chan. 'We still have quite a number of key tournaments before the end of the qualification period.'
It was a sad day all round for China as they also suffered a humiliating loss in the men's singles when South Korean Lee Hyun-il beat Lin Dan 4-21, 23-21, 25-23.