Hong Kong’s Angus Ng crashes out in the last 16 of the world championships
Hong Kong’s top singles hope proves no match for Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen but there was good news for the city’s mixed doubles teams, who both reached the quarter-finals
Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka-long hopes of progressing further into the men’s singles draw at the world badminton championships ended in bitter disappointment in the last 16 in Glasgow.
Ng, the biggest Hong Kong singles hope at the championships, was blown away by Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, the tournament third seed, in a fiery 38-minute encounter as the towering Dane won 21-17, 21-13 at the Emirates Arena.
However, there was a double dose of good news for Hong Kong after two mixed doubles pairs found themselves in the quarter-finals.
Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet caused a huge upset by defeating China’s Zhang Nan and Li Yinhui, the fourth seeds, in the mixed doubles competition.
Tang and Tse, a relatively new combination who found success at last year’s Taiwan Masters, defeated the heralded Chinese pair 21-12, 17-21, 21-13.
The Hong Kong duo, who were seeded 12th, were formed last year but showed potential after four tournaments together by winning the Taiwan Masters title last October.
They also reached the final of last year’s Macau and Thailand Opens.
Less than an hour later, another Hong Kong mixed doubles team caused a major surprise after Reginald Lee Chun-hei and Chau Hoi-wah won their last-16 match by default.
Denmark’s sixth seeds, Joachim Fischer Nielsen and Christina Pedersen, retired after scores were tied at 5-5 in the first game. Nielsen’s campaign ended in tears when he injured his right leg.
However, Ng will have to wait at least another year before he has another crack at a major title after being taught a severe lesson by tournament dark horse, Axelsen.
Axelsen, last year’s Thomas Cup hero with Denmark and bronze medallist at both the 2014 world championships and last year’s Rio Olympics, is beginning to look like a title contender judging by the ease he reached the quarters.
The 23-year-old Ng, who made history last year by becoming the first men’s singles title holder at the Hong Kong Open, simply had no answer to the towering Dane.
Hong Kong coach Tim He Yiming was delighted that Tang and Tse had progressed to the quarter-finals.
Zhang Nan is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, winning gold in mixed doubles at the London Games in 2012 and gold in men’s doubles at last year’s Rio Olympics. He’s also a four-time world champion in mixed doubles.
“Our mixed doubles team played really well. Tang Chun-man was really the stand-out,” said He.
“We played the Chinese pair three times before, losing on all three occasions, although by a narrow margin last time. We were not as experienced as we are now. We played a lot better and were stronger at the forecourt and we showed character. The Hong Kong pair knew how to return their serves better, which was crucial,” he said.
“We were trailing in the third game. Tse Ying-suet’s speed has improved so she was able to cope with her opponents better. We were lacking confidence before in our previous encounters against the Chinese pair.”