Much to the delight of the home crowd, the final of men's singles in BWF World Tour Super 500 Hong Kong Open will see a local representative. Lee Cheuk Yiu continued his fairytale by beating India's Kidambi Srikanth 21-9, 25-23 in the semi-final. He will now face Anthony Sinisuka Ginting who overcame his compatriot Jonatan Christie 22-20, 13-21, 21-18.
It's hard to believe that Lee Cheuk Yiu is 23 years old. The way he played in this tournament suggests that he should have become a big star by now. His performance against Kidambi Srikanth of India was scintillating. The first game was completely dominated by the local favourite.
Lee's smashes were like whiplashes that Kidambi had no answer to. But that wasn't all. The player representing Hong Kong also played some majestic drop shots and brilliant deceptive ones. The Indian player just couldn't find a way of stopping him. It seemed he wasn't playing an unseeded player but a veteran.
The second game was more exciting. Srikanth decided to go on the attack early on in the rallies and take control of them. He also started using his own smash very effectively. As a result, he earned a solid lead that he kept till he had four game points. But then, errors and good defensive work from Lee took away those four game points.
Then, both players had game points and eventually, the Hong Kong player converted to win the match and book his spot in the final. His reaction and that of the crowd was simply exuberant.
The second semi-final was an all-Indonesia affair with Asian Games gold-medalist Jonatan Christie taking on Anthony Sinisuka Ginting. It was the latter who got off to a dominant start and raced to a 11-2 lead at the mid-game interval. But then Christie tightened up his game and made point-scoring more difficult for his compatriot.
With both players playing aggressively, the first game saw very fast rallies. Ginting raced to a big lead but Christie caught up with him. Eventually, it was the former who won the first game.
With both players having expended a lot of energy in playing at a high pace, the second game saw protracted rallies. The Asian Games champion showed his mettle and with some glorious smashes, levelled the match at 1-1.
The third and deciding game was highly competitive. It was Christie who got a big lead early on, only to be caught up with by his compatriot. At this stage, both players were showing great defence but Ginting was playing some brilliant shots. He was also getting the better of the net exchanges. The pace picked up a bit in the second half of the final game but Ginting remained ahead.
Eventually, at 19-18, Anthony took a crucial point to bring himself match points and converted them to proceed to the final. He will now be the favourite to lift the title but will have the crowd cheering for his opponent.
The one clear opportunity that Ginting will have is testing the defence of his opponent in Sunday's match. Even though Lee looked impressive, he had some difficulty in the second game of his semi-final when Srikanth went on the offensive. With his ability to play at high speeds and hit great smashes, Ginting could cause some serious problems to his unseeded adversary.