The 2001 Hong Kong Open has become a graveyard for champions. Yesterday world number two Canadian Jonathon Power followed top-ranked Peter Nicol out of the US$100,000 competition. Power was not beaten. He pulled out sick before his first round match and was admitted to Canossa Hospital where he is currently on an intravenous drip. 'He is very ill and is on a drip in hospital,' said manager Jason Matthison yesterday. 'Jonathon is devastated. He had hoped to regain his world number one ranking here in Hong Kong. He is very upset to go out like this,' said Matthison. 'He has gastro-enteritis. We don't know how he picked it up. But he has been sick for the past 48 hours. He has not slept a wink and is very weak,' added Matthison. Medical authorities said Power was 'suffering from enteritis and severe tonsillitis'. 'He is being treated with intravenous fluids and antibiotics in hospital, where he will stay for the next two to five days,' said Dr Susan Jamieson. The sickout of top-seed Power from the Cathay Pacific-sponsored tournament has left organisers pulling their hair out at the loss of their two drawcards in successive days. On Tuesday, world number one Nicol, the two-time defending champion in Hong Kong, was sensationally knocked out of the opening round by Frenchman Thierry Lincou who won 3-1. 'It is so disappointing to lose Jonathon like this,' said tournament director Marlene Lee, who was worried at the demise of the stars. The double blow has robbed the 2001 Men's Open of both the champion and runner-up for the past two years. At least Hong Kong will have a new champion crowned on Sunday. The absence of the top duo has left the competition tantalisingly open. It paves the way for any number of candidates to stake a claim, and leading the way is British Open champion David Palmer, the highest ranked player remaining in this graveyard for players with elephantine reputations. One player who is striving to achieve such a reputation is Ong Beng Hee, Asia's top-ranked player. The Malaysian, who is the only Asian player outside Pakistan to enter the world's top 10, is playing his second year on the circuit. He has already made waves by being ranked eighth in the standings. And yesterday he showed his muscle as he swept past Australian Anthony Ricketts in the first round. Ong beat Ricketts, who was a semi-finallist last year, 15-13, 15-12, 8-15, 15-9. 'I was relieved to get past him. I knew he would be a tough opponent, but I had beaten him before and I was confident,' said the Malaysian. 'I knew I had to stay positive all the time. I started positively but in the third game I got a bit tired. But I was happy to come back and finish it off,' said Ong. Polite and always with a cheerful demeanour, Ong has captured the hearts of the local crowds. 'They inspire me and I hope they will continue to give their support. I thought someone had paid them to come and support me,' laughed Ong afterwards. And one fan cheering the most is his dad, who arrived yesterday to follow his son's progress. With the absence of Nicol and Power, Ong rates his chances of winning his first major tournament. 'I think it is very open. I have got a good chance although I feel the favourite still has to be David Palmer,' said Ong. Last year he arrived in Hong Kong as a nobody, playing in the qualifying competition. He made it through to the main draw and into the second round before losing. He now wants to go all the way, having never tasted victory. His opponent in the second round is England's Del Harris who scored a 12-15, 15-11, 15-3, 15-8 victory over French qualifier Jean-Michel Arcucci to book his berth. 'It will be a tough match. I played Del one before and lost to him. It is always going to be hard against the English boys. They are so solid,' said Ong. One person was left smiling after the plug was pulled on Power. His replacement in the main draw, lucky loser Amjad Khan of Pakistan, made the most of his unexpected reprieve to defeat compatriot Mansoor Zaman in straight games. Khan, who took part in the qualifying competition, took this heaven-sent chance with both hands as he sped to a 34-minute victory over Zaman, winning 15-4, 17-14, 15-8.