Hong Kong Squash Open organisers pray for sunshine
Organisers hope weather will clear to impress Olympic officials with outdoor court for finals
Organisers are looking for mother nature's support as the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open moves outdoors tomorrow.
A glass court is being set up in the piazza at the Tsim Sha Tsui Cultural Centre where the semi-finals and finals of the star-studded event will be held at the weekend, but the unstable weather has caused concern.
While the players will be safe from the elements inside the outdoor court, which has a cover, there is no shelter for the provisional spectator stands for about 600 fans. The three match referees may also find it difficult if it rains.
Two International Olympic Committee officials will also be on hand to evaluate the Hong Kong event as part of the sport's bid to be part of the 2020 Olympic Games programme.
"It is rare for such a wet climate in November, isn't it," said David Mui Ying-yuen, Hong Kong Squash chairman. "What we can do is to hope for better weather, so the tournament can go ahead smoothly.
"But at the same time, we have also prepared for the worst. If the rain is not too heavy, we can provide raincoats. If the rain is too heavy, we may have to stop the match temporarily and wait for the weather to improve before we restart the match, just like what happens at the Wimbledon tennis where rain is not uncommon.
"The worst scenario is we move the event back to the Squash Centre in Admiralty, as we have already reserved the indoor venue for the weekend."
Mui admitted moving back indoors was not ideal if they wanted to impress IOC officials.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong's last hope in the tournament, Joey Chan Ho-ling was unable to upset the form book as world number one Nicol David of Malaysia beat her in three games at the Squash Centre last night.
The Malaysian, who is looking for her seventh successive victory in the Hong Kong Open, was hardly affected by the long delay of her match for over three hours when she prevailed 11-5, 11-5, 11-1 in a mere 27 minutes.
"There is a big gap against David and her on-court speed is too difficult for me to handle," said Chan, now ranked 19th in the world.
In the men's event, world No1 James Willstrop of England needed 68 minutes to beat Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia with an 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 win. The Englishman will now take on Borja Golan of Spain in the quarter-finals.