Lee Cheuk Yiu fell to Kenta Nishimoto in the semi-finals. Tai Tzu Ying pulled out due to injury
Lee Cheuk Yiu has lost on two previous occasions against Kenta Nishimoto, the Japanese had defeated South Korea’s Son Wan Ho at this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, before stumbling at the hands of eventual gold medalist Jonatan Christie, and had to settle for a bronze. Prior to their semi-final encounter this evening, both Lee Cheuk Yiu and Kenta Nishimoto had achieved their personal best results at the Hong Kong Badminton Championship respectively. Both players started slow in the opening game, exchanging errors and points at times. World No.11 Kenta Nishimoto appeared powerless dealing with Lee’s game plan early on, but the home-grown talent missed his chances and trailed 11:13. Lee Cheuk Yiu then successfully altered his tactics, bringing on some more offensive displays to claw within a point with his opponent. However, Kenta Nishimoto held his nerve to take the first game 21:18.
The 24-year-old Japanese continued to dominate in the second game, establishing a four-point lead early on. The crowd cheered them on as the two players on court exchanged some dramatic shots. Despite trailing in the game, Lee Cheuk Yiu never stopped demonstrating his resilience with his gorgeous saves. It was not to be his day though, as Lee lost the second game 12:21, falling to Kenta Nishimoto in 47 minutes.
Having fought all the way from the qualifiers and into the semi-finals, Lee admitted the matches become more and more demanding as he progresses. “From stamina to thoughts, I was only second best throughout,” said Lee. He also confessed physical fitness was essential in today’s match, which happened to be his weakest link, and he aims to build up his stamina before fighting for Olympics qualifications next year. “I just want to apologize to the fans supporting me, for I am rather disappointed not playing well enough on my home court,” said Lee after losing in the semi-final. Currently ranked No.47 in the world, Lee Cheuk Yiu said he is not thinking about the world rankings just yet, and he is hoping to train even harder in the future, so that he can play better.
Over to Women’s Single, two-time defending champion Tai Tzu Ying entertained Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara tonight, with the audience cheering for both players as soon as they hit the court. The Japanese maintained her lead in the opening game, before winning 21:12 to take a one-game lead with ease. Trailing 1:3 in the second game, Chinese Taipei’s Tai Tzu Ying then requested for a medical timeout, before deciding to pull out. “The waist injury had hampered my performance, and for the sake of the year-end tournament, I have decided to pull out. I hope to return to Hong Kong in the future though,” said the 2018 Asian Games Women’s Single gold medalist.
Women’s Doubles top seed Yuki Fukushima/Sayaka Hirota survived a 105 minutes battle and advanced to the final. The Japanese pair came back from behind to defeat Indonesian pair Greysoa Polii/Apriyani Rahayu 20:22, 21:9, 21:12 to setup a final encounter with South Koreans Lee So Hee/Shin Seung Chan. As for Men’s Doubles world champions Marcus Fernaldi Gideon/Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo, the Indonesian pair will face-off with Japan’s Takeshi Kamura/Keigo Sonoda on Sunday, as they seek to defend their title in Hong Kong.