Hard work paid off as Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka-long reached the semi-finals of the HK$7.8 million Thailand Open after beating fast-improving teammate Lee Cheuk-yiu in straight games at the Impact Arena in Bangkok on Friday. Despite struggling early in the first game, the Hong Kong number one took seven points in a row when 17-14 down to win the game 21-17. Ng then dominated the second 21-12 to wrap up a men’s singles last-four place. “I think I played my best match of the week so far,” said the seventh seed. “I have started to get used to the stadium and the drift, so I rate my performance highly today. “The final stages of the first game was the turning point as I could hang in there despite some difficulties and took the game by coming from behind. The first two matches of the week also helped as I was able to lift my form after some tough encounters.” Angus Ng to play first match in 10 months following pandemic outbreak that hobbled world tour Head badminton coach at the Sports Institute, Tim He Yiming, praised Ng for his exceptional work during their closed camp at the Fo Tan training complex. “The shuttlecock becomes a bit heavy and slow these days requiring greater ability from the players if they want to win,” said the coach. “Ng worked very hard before his departure to Bangkok. When the two players are on par in terms of their physical condition, it won’t be easy to tell the difference, just like what happened in the opening stages but then Ng gradually took control of the match with his skills and techniques. All his hard work paid off.” Ng is now eager to beat his long time rival Chou Tien-chen, of Taiwan, in the next round and book a place in the final in the first of three back-to-back tournaments in Bangkok, where the Badminton World Federation is trying to restart the world tour amid the coronavirus pandemic. The last tournament of the series will be the HK$11.7 million world tour finals which feature the top eight players or pairs in all five categories. Ng was ranked ninth before the series began. The 26-year-old former world junior doubles champion is down 10-6 in his head-to-head record with Chou but the two players are 2-2 from their four encounters in 2019. Badminton players return to action in Bangkok amid Covid-19 concerns “We know each other very well after playing together so many times and the results are always decided by three games,” said Ng. “But since we haven’t played for almost a year, there may be some new skills or tactics turning up on court. It will be an exciting match.” In the mixed doubles, the Hong Kong pair of Chang Tak-ching and Ng Wing-yung took one game from fourth seeds Seo Seungjae and Chae Yujung, of South Korea, before losing their quarter-final tie 21-16, 15-21, 21-4 in 48 minutes. The other Hong Kong mixed doubles pair of Tang Chun-man and Tse Ying-suet withdrew in the previous round after the coach of their German rivals tested positive for Covid-19.