Open lures star lineup
LOCAL number one Wong Wai-lap has a good chance of a first-up triumph in next week's Konica Hong Kong Open after being drawn against Singaporean Lau Kim Peng in his opening match.
The event, upgraded to five-star level with prize money of US$125,000, is the fourth richest tournament in the world and has attracted seven of the top 10 in men's singles and six of the top 10 in ladies' singles.
Wong, who made the last 16 at the Barcelona Olympic Games, has a fairly good draw in the star-studded field and could even go as far as the quarter-finals if he produces his best form.
A first-round victory at the Hong Kong Sports Institute on Tuesday is likely to pitch Wong against China's Hu Zhilan on Wednesday, with another win putting him into the top 16 when the tournament moves to the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
Should Wong make it through the opening rounds his probable opponent would be Sompol Kukasemkij of Thailand, who is seeded five to eight.
Indonesian Arbi Heryanto, the world number one who won the Asian Games gold medal last month, heads the illustrious line-up with compatriot Ardy Wiranata the second seed.
Defending champion Hermawan Susanto, also of Indonesia, and Thomas Lauridsen of Denmark are seeded third and fourth.
South Korea's Asian Games gold medallist Bang Soon-hyun is strongly fancied to live up to her top seeding and win the women's title in the absence of Indonesian ace Susi Susanti, the world number one and Barcelona Olympic champion.