Yip Tsz-fung is city's sole surviving hope at Hong Kong Squash Open
Local stars stumble in the opening round, while 22-year-old youngster becomes first Hongkonger to reach second round of world-class tournament in 30 years
Only one Hong Kong player Yip Tsz-fung reached the second round of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open yesterday.
The 22-year-old Yip, who is ranked 59 also became the first homegrown player to reach the men's second round in the 30-year history of the world-class tournament.
Yip, who defeated 23rd-ranked Englishman Tom Richard 3-2, was delighted with the upset, saying this was his biggest win in his brief career after becoming full time two years ago.
"I lost the fourth game, but was able to hang in there and stay focused in the decider," he said.
"Of course, the support of the home fans played an important role."
Yip will take on seventh seed Tarek Momen of Egypt today.
Hong Kong's rising squash star Leo Au Chun-ming put up a strong fight, but could not overcome world champion Gregory Gaultier. The Frenchman and world number one was too strong for Au, who is ranked 31 in the world, beating him 3-1 at the Squash Centre in Admiralty.
Leo Au said he could have played better against Gaultier, but taking one game from the world No 1 was an achievement. "He was so fast in the opening game and that was why I lost by a big margin," said Leo Au.
"The second game was much better after I got used to his pace. Overall, it was not a bad game."
Other Hong Kong players had early exits with Annie Au Wing-chi losing to Joelle King of New Zealand 3-1 and Liu Tsz-ling going down 3-0 against former world No 1 Nicol David of Malaysia.
Annie Au, Leo's elder sister, said King was a difficult opponent. "She was a top 10 player before and was hampered by injury. But now she is fully fit and her powerful shots made her difficult to handle. I suffered a lapse of concentrate in the second game and was once trailing 2-0. It was not easy to claw back from that situation."
Meanwhile, Hong Kong will compete in next week's World Men's Squash Team Championships in Egypt despite the withdrawal of six nations for security reasons.
"The world body states the tournament will go ahead and we will still send the team," said coach Tony Choi Yuk-kwan said.