Hong Kong’s Angus Ng upsets fifth seed to set up Lee Chong Wei badminton clash
Angus Ng’s ascent is still going at the Hong Kong Open, the final leg of the Superseries, as he reaches the semi-finals – a first for the city and a first for him
Giant-killer Angus Ng Ka-long pulled off another major badminton upset last night to become the first Hongkonger to reach the men’s singles semi-finals at the annual Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open.
The unseeded young player had no trouble defeating fifth seed Chou Tien-chen of Taiwan with a sensational 2-1victory in front of the 3,000-plus crowd at the Coliseum and will now take on Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia for another historic result.
Former world number one Lee came back from behind to beat top seed Chen Long of China in another tough clash with a 13-21, 21-19, 21-15 win after 85 minutes.
The matchup was a repeat of last week’s China Open Superseries final when Lee prevailed over the mainlander and current world No 1 in straight games.
Trailing 10-13 in the decider, the former world junior doubles champion, took 10 points in a row to settle matters 21-17, 15-21, 21-15 after 60 minutes.
WATCH: Highlights of Hong Kong Open quarter-finals
The 21-year-old, who is ranked 22, also beat two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of China in the second round on Thursday in the US$350,000 tournament. The event is the final leg of the 12 Superseries of the year before the grand finals in Dubai next month.
“I am very happy to have made history for Hong Kong,” said Ng. “The third game was crucial as I changed my tactics to become more offensive when I was trailing. It worked and I made it all the way.
“I lost to Chou three times before I beat him in the Bitburger Open in Germany earlier this month and have become more familiar with his playing style.
“Coupled with my victory over Lin in the previous round, I strongly feel that I can make a breakthrough.”
Head coach Tim He Yiming said Ng hit a low point when his former doubles partner Li Chun-hei became prominent in the mixed doubles.
“He definitely has the ability, but needs a good result to boost his confidence as he has always lost in the opening stages of big tournaments. He eventually found one after capturing the Bitburger Open title – his first victory in a grand prix gold series that gave him some self-belief,” said the coach.
“He is still young and needs more international exposure before reaching the real top rankings, but the result here is a major breakthrough that has given him strong motivation to go further.”
Ng, however, will face another daunting test in the semi-finals with his rival Lee gradually regaining the best form of his career after a doping ban.
The Malaysian, who came back in June after an eight-month ban, has two Superseries titles under his belt.
Lee also beat Ng in the opening round of the China Open last week when the Malaysian ace easily brushed aside the Hong Kong player 21-10, 21-15.
Meanwhile, rising star Nozomi Okuhara of Japan set her sights firmly on a better women’s singles result than last year after easily thrashing fourth seed and defending champion Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan in two games.
The 2012 world junior champion, now only 20, wrapped up the match 21-13, 21-13 in a mere 39 minutes.
Okuhara and Tai met in the 2014 Hong Kong Open final with the Taiwanese clinching the championship title after a straight games win.
Despite her age, Okuhara’s career has been twice threatened by a serious knee injury, but the determined youngster has regained her form, setting the 2016 Olympic Games as her ultimate goal.
“I lost to Tai last year because I just came back from my second knee injury and lacked the know-how of coping with her style,” said the promising youngster. “But since then I have played her twice and gained confidence in tackling her.
“I am now free from any injury and in good condition. The Hong Kong Open has been my target after reaching the final here last year. It is also the last Superseries tournament before travelling to Dubai for the grand finals. I want to gather adequate momentum before challenging the Rio Olympic Games.”
Okuhara has already clinched the Superseries title in the Japan Open this year, beating fellow Japanese shuttler Akane Yamaguchi in the final.
The other semi-final will feature a tough clash between Wang Yihan of China and top seed Carolina Marin of Spain.
Wang, silver medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, upset third seed Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea in a quick fire 21-14, 21-7 tie.
“It’s always close against Sung, but apparently she was not in her top form today,” said Wang, the two-time Hong Kong Open champion in 2009 and 2013, but has yet to bag one Superseries title out of a total of 12 this year.
“The women’s singles is wide open these days, unlike before when Chinese shuttlers were in total dominance. Many young shuttlers have posed great threats. Every match is difficult.”