Top stars focusing on HK glory bid
THE US$125,000 Konica Hong Kong Open Championships, upgraded from a three-star to a five-star event, brings some of the world's top stars to the territory next month.
The tournament, now fourth out of the 18 Grand Prix events under the International Badminton Federation (IBF), takes place at the Hong Kong Sports Institute and the Queen Elizabeth Stadium from November 8 to November 13.
According to the latest rankings list issued by the IBF, seven of the world's top 10 players will take part in the men's singles, six of the top 10 in the ladies' singles, eight of the top 10 in the men's doubles, four of the top six in the ladies' doubles and the world's top three teams in the mixed doubles.
The men's singles defending champion, Hermawan Susanto of Indonesia, will be looking to repeat his victory and collect the US$8,125 winners cheque.
But he will face tough opposition from compatriots Ardy B. Wiranata, Heryanto Arbi and Danish Thomas Stuer-Lauridsen, the top three players in the World Grand Prix Series.
Spectators will also be able to see some of the world's top female players battling it out in the ladies singles, including recent Asian Games gold medallist Bang Soo-hyun of Korea and silver medallist Mizui Hisako of Japan.
The event will also give the national squad a chance to make amends for disappointing performances in the Hiroshima Asian Games.
National head coach Diana Lo said next week's Thailand Open, the Hong Kong Open and China Open are the three most important tournaments for Hong Kong players to get points to qualify for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.