The prospect of an all-Hong Kong title showdown in the Super Series Masters Finals moved a step closer as Wang Chen and Zhou Mi got off to strong starts yesterday.
Wang beat Zhou in their opening match of the US$500,000 tournament in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. But Zhou put this behind her with a win against Xu Huaiwen of Germany, while Wang also beat Japan's Yu Hirayama.
The two Hong Kong shuttlers are in group A, where the top two finishers will go through to the semi-finals
'This situation is a bit tricky at the moment,' said Hong Kong coach Chan Chi-choi last night. 'Although Wang won both matches today, she still has to face Xu in her last group match.
'If she wins, she will definitely go through, while a defeat against Xu will mean we'll need to count back the score to decide the two group winners. Wang has been in good form since lifting the title in Hong Kong early this month, but the only worry will be her fitness.'
The 32-year-old veteran upset Zhou 21-12, 21-15 and came back strongly after dropping the first game to defeat Yu 18-21, 21-6, 21-10.
Zhou topped the year-end Super Series standings with two titles and three runners-up finishes in the 12 legs. Despite a defeat to Wang, she made no mistake against Xu with a convincing 21-11, 21-16 scoreline. Should Zhou beat Yu in straight games today, which is very likely as the Japanese shuttler is the weakest in the group, she will definitely go through. Xu defeated Yu 21-12, 21-14.
In the men's singles, Hong Kong's Chan Yan-kit kept his slim qualifying hopes alive with a 21-18, 21-14 win over Wong Choong Hann of Malaysia last night. Chan lost to Peter Gade of Denmark 21-15, 21-17 in a closely contested match in the morning.
'This was the first time a player from Hong Kong has beaten Wong,' said Chan. 'Chan will qualify if he can defeat top seed Lee Chong Wei, although the chance is pretty slim.'