BWF Hong Kong Open 2019: Chen Long, Viktor Axelsen out; Anthony Ginting registers amazing comeback

Olympic Champion Chen Long was forced to retire while Viktor Axelsen lost to an unseeded player. Anthony Ginting fought back from jaws of defeat.

Chen Long
Chen was forced to retire Reuters

The quarterfinals of the BWF World Tour Super 500 Hong Kong Open were highly eventful, especially in the men's singles. Olympic Champion Chen Long had to retire from his match against India's Kidambi Srikanth after the first game. He becomes the latest top player who has fallen due to injury during a match, raising further concerns about the packed schedule.

It was a bad day for Danes as former World Champion Viktor Axelsen was stunned and knocked out by unseeded local player Lee Cheuk Yiu, much to the delight of the crowd. The other prominent player from Denmark, World Championship silver medalist Anders Antonsen also lost his match, to Asian Games gold medalist Jonatan Christie.

While the Danish players suffered, Indonesia had a great day. Christie's other prominent teammate, Anthony Sinisuka Ginting also won his match by fighting back from the jaws of defeat against last week's Fuzhou China Open finalist Chou Tien Chen of Chinese Taipei.

The first quarterfinal of the day in men's singles division saw Olympic Champion Chen taking on India's mercurial shuttler Kidambi Srikanth. The gold medalist from Rio has been very inconsistent in the last couple of years. After winning the France Open, he has had a couple of reverses. This time though, it was the injury that got the better of him. He retired after losing the first game 13-21.

Viktor Axelsen
Axelsen lost to an unseeded player Reuters

Then came the big shock of the day, and one that the crowd in Hong Kong loved. 2017 World Champion Viktor Axelsen was up against unseeded Hong Kong player Lee Cheuk Yiu. Not only did Axelsen lose, but he did so in just two games. The score read 21-14, 21-19.

The next match in this division saw Jonatan Christie taking on Anders Antonsen. This too turned out to be a one-sided contest as the gold medalist from Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games last year, Christie, sailed to a smooth victory over the inconsistent Antonsen. The scoreline was 21-15, 21-13.

After three disappointing contests, the men's singles division needed a top-class and exciting encounter. They got that in the final game of the day on court 1 involving Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Chou Tien Chen. The latter was the top seed in this tournament after the withdrawal of Kento Momota.

Going by how Chou played against Momota in last Sunday's Fuzhou China Open final, expectations were high from him and he played according to it for a large part of the game. The Taiwanese player decided to play from the front court and be aggressive. This resulted in him dominating rallies. Combining that with great shots, he won the first game easily.

The second game was also following a similar pattern as Chou continued his way towards victory. Ginting decided to up his own pace and take the initiative early in the rallies. But he wasn't succeeding at it. The player from Chinese Taipei was 17-11 ahead in the second game, just four points away from securing his place in the final.

But then Ginting engineered an amazing turnaround. He started to retrieve more shots and somehow, without playing rashly, did not let his opponent get the upper-hand in rallies. Suddenly, Chou was having to play much longer rallies than before. 10 out of the last 12 points in the second game came the way of the Indonesian as he drew level.

Right from the beginning of the third game, it was clear that Ginting's opponent was in trouble. He seemed to have run out of fuel while his adversary kept getting better and better. Occasionally, Chou would play a good shot but they were rare. Furthermore, he wasn't having much success on the net either.

After racing to a 6-0 lead in the third game, Ginting didn't let the advantage go and wrapped up the game 8-21, 21-19, 21-13. He will now have to face his own compatriot Christie in the semi-final.

On the other side, Kidambi Srikanth, who won four Super Series titles in 2017 but has been without much success since, will take on Hong Kong's Lee. Needless to say, the all-Indonesian semi would be regarded by many as a final before the final.