BWF Hong Kong Open 2019: Top players sail through to second round

Apart from Saina Nehwal and Michelle Li, all other prominent players in men's and women's singles won their matches.

Chou Tien Chen
Chou Tien Chen won his match Reuters

After the disappointment of losing Kento Momota due to his withdrawal on day 1 of the BWF World Tour Super 500 Hong Kong Open, the tournament came to life on day 2. Almost all the leading players taking part in the event were able to make it to the round of 16. Some did it easily while some had to fight over three games. But the results were in their favour.

With Momota out of the reckoning, the remaining top-seed is Chinese Taipei's Chou Tien Chen. He needed three games to put away Japan's Kanta Tsuneyama 21-5, 24-26, 21-15 on Wednesday.

Injury-prone third-seed Shi Yu Qi of China had a tough first-round opponent in India's B Sai Praneeth. But the former All England champion triumphed 11-21, 21-18, 21-12. His two senior compatriots – Olympic Champion Chen Long and five-time World Champion Lin Dan – also won their respective matches.

The former defeated his Indonesian opponent 21-18, 21-18 while the latter needed three games to win 22-24, 21-17, 21-16 against his adversary from Denmark.

The two prominent Danish players though, won their respective matches quite easily. 2017 World Champion Viktor Axelsen triumphing over former world no. 1 Son Wan Ho 21-9, 21-14, and fourth-seed Anders Antonsen winning 21-13, 21-13 in his match.

PV Sindhu
World Champion PV Sindhu also won her match Reuters

From Indonesia, Jonatan Christie, the Asian Games champion, came through with a 20-22, 21-14, 21-13 win over an opponent from the host nation. Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, Christie's compatriot, also needed three games to record a 21-16, 17-21, 21-11 victory over another player from Hong Kong.

In the closely-contested women's singles division, the only minor shock was another first-round exit for former world no. 1 Saina Nehwal from India, who lost to China's Cai Yan Yan 21-13, 22-20. One wonders whether she is coming to the end of her career.

Apart from that, the other slightly surprising result was the defeat of Canada's Michelle Li to USA's Beiwen Zhang. Considering that Michelle had won the Macau Open two weeks ago and had reached the semi-finals in last week's Fuzhou China Open, this was a bit unexpected. But considering that Zhang is also a good player, it can't be put down as an absolute upset.

Apart from these two results, other matches in this division followed the script. South Korea's bright young talent An Se Young won her match 21-9, 21-14. Inconsistent performer Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand also didn't have much difficulty in beating her South Korean opponent 21-12, 21-8.

World Champion Pusarla Venkata Sindhu avoided her fate from last week when she lost in the first round of the event in Fuzhou and won her match comfortably 21-15, 21-16. The lady that Sindhu had defeated in the World Championship final, Nozomi Okuhara, had an even simpler route to the second round as her opponent retired during the second game.

Okuhara's opponent in last week's Fuzhou China Open final Chen Yu Fei also won her match, with the scoreline 21-19, 21-19 against out of form Sung Ji Hyun. Another player struggling with form in the last few weeks, Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, had a satisfactory result in her match which she won 21-16, 21-16 against Soniia Cheah of Malaysia.

HE Bing Jiao of China looked in trouble when she lost the first game to Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark. But she fought back to win 10-21, 21-15, 21-16.

So, the stage is set for an exciting round of 16. With the heavy workload on players these days, it's hard to predict who will be able to survive in a tournament. This time around, both men's and women's singles draws are looking even harder to forecast.