Leo stars on mixed day for HK hopefuls
Day one in Hong Kong always offers a mixture of relatively quick matches involving the mainly junior locals - they have a lot of them to choose from - and a handful of tough matches where two of the established internationals are pitched against each other.
Today was no exception, and from the outset Omar Abdel Aziz v Leo Au and Bradley Hindle v Ivan Yuen looked like two standout matches. They were on at the same time, of course, and both duly delivered, going to five games and putting the schedule well behind from early in the day.
Upstairs on court eight the home crowd was delighted to see Leo - younger brother of Annie - twice come from behind and save four match balls in the fifth before finally winning 17/15 in 75 minutes.
"It's not fair," said five-time Hong Kong champion Amr Shabana, watching the end of the match, "they should both be straight into the main draw!"
Leo was happy to find some winning form after recent disappointments:
"When I lost in Doha, playing badly, I also lost my confidence and it snowballed in Rotterdam for the worlds. But I guess that playing here in Hong Kong, after practising, and practising, help me a lot today. And now, my confidence is right up!"
Meanwhile downstairs on the showcourt Malaysian youngster Yuen also came from 2/1 down to win in 77 minutes.
"I didn’t play very well to start with, and I quickly found myself 2/1 down," admitted Ivan.
"But then, I started hitting harder, quicker, and also became more patient, as I was going for my shots in the first games. In the 5th, I got a few lucky shots, and he got very frustrated. I understand, but that’s part of the game too! I was just lucky today…"
The third all-international match was between Harinderpal Sandhu and USA's Chris Gordon and that too lived up to its billing with the young Indian coming through in four fast-paced games.
"He was very good on the volley today in particular, everything that was arriving in his racquet, he would put away, but he went too fine with it maybe," said Sandhu. "The game was very fast, very quick, I had to stay on my toes the whole time, because I never knew what shot he was going to hit, he was attacking all the time."
Dick Lau made it two Hong Kong players in tomorrow's qualifying finals as he beat compatriot Ho Tze-Lok, but 11 others fell by the wayside in times ranging from 19 to 61 minutes - coincidentally both of those extremes being against French opponents ...
HK juniors on show in women's event
In the women's event there was success for some of the recent and current Hong Kong junior women's team.
Carmen Lee, just graduated from juniors, was too strong for Ho Tze-Lok, but Choi Uen-Shan took a close four-game encounter against Malaysian Pushppa Devi and Lee Ka-Yi won a five-game see-saw encounter with Elise Ng, who was making a return to action after recently retiring from the tour (the watching Christina Mak couldn't be persuaded to do the same!).
Tong Tsz-Wing and Karman Siuboosted the numbers of the HK young brigade in tomorrow's qualifying finals, and while a number didn't make it several of them gave good accounts of themselves.
Former European Junior Champion Carrie Ramsey had to work hard too, to beat Pansy Chan in four games; Olga Ertlova was grateful she'd built up a 10/4 lead in the third against another HK youngster Chu Ka-Hei (the Czech thought she should have had a stroke at that point) because the final half-dozen rallies were very, very tough as Chu almost made it all the way back; and Lauren Selby had a tough time too, needing four games and 55 minutes to see off the challenge of Ho Ka-Po. "I'm not feeling too fresh today," admitted a relieved Englishwoman who arrived from Macau this morning.
That left Hong Kong with representation in five of tomorrow's women's matches which are sure to draw another big, supportive and noisy crowd ...