Tattoo you: Youngster Lee Cheuk-yiu reaches the semi-finals of the Hong Kong Open
- The 22-year-old has a tattoo to remind himself to have more faith in himself
- The youngster has become the third home men’s player to reach the last four of the Hong Kong Open
Up-and-coming Hong Kong shuttler Lee Cheuk-yiu has a tattoo to remind himself that he needs to have more faith in himself after previous failures. On Friday night, he instilled a lot more confidence by reaching the semi-finals of the Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open on Friday night.
The 22-year-old youngster defeated India’s Sameer Verma 21-15, 19-21, 21-11 to become the third home badminton player to reach the men’s singles last four after Hu Yun and Angus Ng Ka-long, who won the title in 2016.
“Angus’ victory here two years ago inspired me but it is still too early to say if I can make it all the way like him,” said the unheralded player, who is ranked 47th in the world. “Of course, it’s nice to reach the semi-finals of such a big tournament. I’ll try to get a good night’s sleep tonight, eat some decent food before coming back again tomorrow to face a tough opponent.”
Lee will take on Japan’s Kenta Nishimoto, of Japan, on Saturday for a place in Sunday’s final. Top-ranked Kento Momota also reached the last four after defeating Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie 22-24, 21-9, 21-9.
Lee knows he needs to raise his game against his Japanese opponent, the eighth seed, in his unlikely quest to go further into the draw.
“I lost to him [Nishimoto] in our previous encounters. I must do a better job if I want to reach the final,” said Lee, whose previous best singles result was winning the 2017 New Zealand Open, a grand prix gold level tournament.
Since his breakthrough victory in Auckland last year, Lee is eager to shine on home soil so that he can regain his confidence, especially as he performs in front of a home crowd. He even has a tattoo on his forehand that reads “Have faith in yourself” that reminds him that he’s a better player than most people think.
“I am a bit emotional on the court, you could see it when I lost the second game today,” he said. “Then I kept telling myself to be patient in the decisive third game and that’s why I was able to come back to win the match.”
The other semi-final features top seed Kento Momota, of Japan, the hottest player on the tour who has captured four major tour titles this season plus the world championships title, and Son Wan-ho of South Korea.
In the women’s singles, sixth seed Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand will meet Sung Ji-hyun of South Korea in the semi-finals. The other women’s singles semi-final features Nozomi Okuhara, of Japan, and top seed Tai Tzu-Ying of Taiwan.