China’s Wang Shixian slams Hong Kong Open set-up after late finish

Chinese former world number one forced to play soon after late finish because Coliseum in Hung Hom can accommodate only four courts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 11:42pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 November, 2013, 11:42pm

The court set-up at the Hong Kong Coliseum was slammed by leading player Wang Shixian, of China, after she battled through to the third round of the women’s singles competition at the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open in Hung Hom on Thursday.

The former world number one got past Aprilla Yuswandari of Indonesia in a tough 22-24, 21-13, 21-17 victory but was far from happy. “When I finished my game the previous night, it was already one o’clock in the morning,” said the fourth seed, who was back in court yesterday afternoon. “There is such a big problem in the arrangements and the organisers should look into it.”

The chairman of the Hong Kong Badminton Association, Tong Wai-lun, said organisers were restricted by the venue. “We can only set up a maximum of four adjacent courts here,” he said. “This problem happens at other super series events also ... I heard one tournament finished the first day at 2am.

“We hope the problem can be resolved when the new indoor arena at the former Kai Tak airport site opens – we have already requested space to accommodate seven adjacent courts.

“But we’re also worried about the seating capacity at the new arena – the government plan is for only 4,000 seats and we are now selling 6,500 tickets at Hung Hom. Some fans may be deprived of the chance to watch top-class badminton in future.”

Meanwhile, the biggest upset of the day came in the women’s singles when reigning world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand was beaten by unseeded Bae Yeon-ju of South Korea, 21-14, 21-13, in just half an hour.

Hong Kong’s top hope in the men’s singles, Hu Yun, also made an early exit, losing 18-21, 21-19, 25-23 to third seed Kenichi Tago of Japan in 90 minutes.

There was better news for the home side in the mixed doubles with Lee Chun-hei and Chau Hoi-wah offering the best possible gift to celebrate their coach Chen Kang’ s birthday when they beat Chai Biao and Tang Jinhua of China. The 21-18, 21-17 victory put them through to the quarter-finals of a super series event for the second time since the Singapore Open earlier this year.

“We were better prepared, mentally and tactically, than last time when we lost to the same pair at the Japan Open in September,” said Chau.