Hong Kong Tennis Open results: rain threatens washout but play starts after four-hour delay
Heavy rain looked like it might cause havoc to schedule at Victoria Park, with more bad weather forecast for Thursday, but players finally start after staff go extra mile to dry courts
A potential washout threatened to cause havoc to the Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open schedule on Wednesday but organisers will have been relieved when the heavy rainfall subsided and play was able to get under way.
Play was delayed by four and a half hours, with some fans having been waiting at Victoria Park Tennis Stadium since 3pm (Hong Kong time), when the action on day three was expected to begin.
It seemed like almost every hand on deck was helping with the effort to get the courts dry when the rain stopped around 6pm, with Hong Kong under deluge all morning and afternoon.
Some assistants were wiping down the soaked courts with towels, then wringing those dry into gutters. Others were pushing giant squeegees across the hard surfaces, while some were blowing the courts dry with machine fans.
Alize Cornet and Luksika Kumkhum finally stepped out onto Centre Court at 7.30pm, with the Thai winning an epic battle 6-4, 4-6, 7-5(5) in two hours and 43 minutes.
In the first match on Court One, Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine saw off China’s Zheng Saisai 6-3, 6-3, before Kristina Kucova of Slovakia raced past Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova 6-1, 6-0 in just 51 minutes.
“It was very difficult because we were supposed to play at 3pm, and every half an hour the supervisor postponed it,” said world No 317 Kucova.
“It was like 3.30, 4, then 4.30, 5.30 – we didn’t know how long it would rain, but it was conditions for both of us. It was difficult but I was very happy I was making it better today.”
Organisers will have been relieved to complete Wednesday’s seven scheduled matches, with more rain forecast for Thursday, as a backlog could have caused chaos going into the weekend.
However, that meant play went on past midnight in Causeway Bay. France’s Cornet started her doubles match with Zheng against Hong Kong pair Eudice Chong and Zhang Ling on Court One after 11pm, having originally been scheduled to be the third match on Centre Court following the singles clash between Garbine Muguruza and Ana Bogdan.
The Spanish former world No 1 and the Romanian did not walk out for that match until 10.21pm because of the first match going so long.
Muguruza got the job done quickly, however, thrashing Bogdan 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 15 minutes.
The problematic conditions on final day last year will have been fresh in everyone’s minds, when eventual champion Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Daria Gavrilova did not get onto court until 9.20pm on the Sunday because of a typhoon.
That match did not finish until past 1am because of more rain interruptions. Pavlyuchenkova had also been expected to fly out to Russia the next day for the Kremlin Cup in Moscow, further complicating matters.
In the doubles, Renata Voracova and Dalila Jakupovic beat Nao Hibino and Oksana Kalashnikova 6-3, 2-6, 10-7 on Court Two to reach the semi-finals.
Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai also booked their place in the doubles semi-finals with a 6-4, 7-5(6) victory over Japanese pair Makoto Ninomiya and Miyu Kato.