Angus Ng Ka-long made history on Sunday after becoming the first home player to win the men’s singles title at the US$400,000 Yonex-Sunrise Hong Kong Open since its inauguration in 1982.
The 22-year-old, a former world junior doubles champion, picked up his first superseries title after holding off the challenge from India’s Sameer Verma, who had beaten Ng twice in the past at the World and Asian Junior Championships in 2012. But Ng picked the perfect time to reverse the trend, winning 21-14, 10-21, 21-11, in front of 6,000 roaring fans at the Coliseum in Hung Hom.
Hong Kong took the women’s title when former world number one Wang Chen, now a coach at the Sports Institute, won in 2008.
“I used to watch the Hong Kong Open when I was a little kid and dreamed of one day being part of it,” said Ng, who started formal training at the Sports Institute 10 years ago.
“I am so happy it has come true. Winning the Hong Kong Open is a big moment in my career.
“In fact, someone asked if I would like to win the All England or the home tournament. I had no hesitation in saying the Hong Kong Open because it would be in front of the home crowds, which is important to the sport here.”
Ng had already made a breakthrough for Hong Kong 12 months ago when he became the first local player to reach the semi-finals, beating two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan, of China, on the way before falling to Malaysia’s eventual champion Lee Chong Wei.
Returning to the same venue one year later, Ng cut a more resolute and confident figure, reaching his third superseries semi-final this year.
Ng said his two previous losses to Verma played on his mind before the final.
“I feared it might be the same result,” he said. “But once the match started, I didn’t think too much about it.
“I wasn’t even thinking about creating another milestone for Hong Kong badminton, I was simply focused on the game.
“Today, the wind was a bit tricky but after the score was levelled at 1-1, I tried to be more aggressive and my strategy worked.”
Ng has already qualified for the superseries finals in Dubai next month, when the top eight players and pairs in all five events after 12 legs battle it out for supremacy.
“My next target will be the Dubai finals and hopefully I can reach the semi-finals, but in the long term, I want to reach the world’s top five and make regular appearances in the big tournaments and win them,” said Ng. He is currently ranked 14 in the world after reaching a high of ninth earlier this year.
He also qualified for the Rio Olympics but was beaten by Son Wan-ho, of South Korea, in the round of 16.
Taiwan’s Tai Tzu-ying enjoyed a double celebration after clinching the women’s singles title. Her 21-15, 21-17 victory over Pusala V Sindhu of India was not only sweet revenge after losing to the same opponent at the Olympic Games this summer but also took her to the top of the world rankings, overtaking Rio champion Carolina Marin, of Spain.
It was also Tai’s second Hong Kong Open title; in 2014 she defeated Nozomi Okuhara of Japan.
Denmark’s Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christina Pedersen beat Huang Dongping and Li Yinhui 21-19, 21-10 in the women’s doubles final, completing a poor tournament for world powerhouse China.
It meant China leave Hong Kong with zero titles, following the China Open the previous week when they reached four finals but lost them all. In Hong Kong, they reached only the women’s doubles final.
In the mixed doubles, Indonesians Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir, the Rio Olympic Games gold medallists, beat compatriots Praveen Jordan and Debby Susanto 21-19, 21-17 in the final.
In the men’s doubles, Japan’s Takeshi Kamura and Keigo Sonoda won the title by beating Denmark’s Mathias Boe and Carsten Mogensen 21-91, 21-19.