Roger Ng saw off giant-killer Kai Wai Yu, 6-3, 6-2, to become the first local boys’ singles winner at the G2 Hong Kong Open Junior Championships 2018. Over in the girls’ singles, top-seeded Thai Thasaporn Naklo thwarted a home town double when she beat Cody Wong, 7-6(8), 6-4, in the final.
According to itftennnis.com, no player from Hong Kong has won the boys’ singles title at the Grade 2 level of this event since its beginning in 1993. Currently ranked No. 154 in the world, results this week will propel him into the top 100 for the first time when the new rankings are released.
In Saturday’s final against Kai, who knocked out No. 3 seed Tsai Chang-Lin (ITF No. 131) and No. 2 seed Shunsuke Mitsui (ITF No. 91), Ng yielded his serve just once and broke back four times while throwing down ten aces to dominate the encounter. He never trailed in the match and produced three-game runs to close out each set to register a 6-3, 6-2, victory.
“I am honoured to be the first hometown player to win this tournament,” said Ng. “This year hasn’t been easy so I’m happy to have done well here and with any luck I can finish the season strong. I want to congratulate Kai, who’s had a great week, and thank you to all the fans who are supporting us always. I’m going to keep working at my game and hopefully take it to the next level.”
Last year, Ng, who was unseeded, reached the quarterfinals before bowing to No. 8 seed Valentin Royer of France in straight sets.
In the doubles, Ng teamed up with China’s Xiao Linang and upset No. 1 seed Mo Yecong of China and Tsai Chang-Lin of Chinese Taipei, 4-6, 6-3, [15-13], in the opening round. The pair then eliminated No. 4 seed Pavel Shumeiko of Ukraine and Ibrokhimjon Urinov of Uzbekistan, 6-3, 1-6, [10-5] in the semifinals.
In the final, Ng and Xiao began brightly against Japanese third seed Shunsuke Mitsui and Fumiya Yoshino by breaking Yoshino in the second game to jump out to a 3-0 lead. However, after Ng held for 4-1, Xiao lost serve and allowed the Japanese pair to get back to a level-pegging 4-4. Following a love hold by Ng and Yoshino, Xiao wasted a game point up 40-30 and yielded his service game again. Mitsui took full advantage and duly served out the set, 7-5.
In the ensuing set, Xiao again conceded an early break to quickly fall behind 2-1. Although the Hong Kong-Chinese tandem managed to break Mitsui immediately to force a 2-2 stalemate, Xiao conceded his serve to love in the seventh game, and the Japanese was able to capitalise on that lone break to serve out the set and the match in straight sets, 7-5, 6-4.
In a showdown of the top 2 seeds in the girls’ singles final, servers dominated the early going until the sixth game when Cody, trailing 3-2, squandered a pair of game points from 40-15 up and lost her serve. To her credit, she broke Thasaporn to get even at 5-5 and then saved a set point from 30-40 down in the twelfth game to force a tiebreak.
With things still on serve and Cody leading 2-1 in the tiebreak, Thasaporn produced back-to-back mini-breaks to jump out to a 5-2 lead. Unfazed, Cody responded with four straight points of her own to regain the lead, 6-5. However, Thasaporn belted an ace to save set point and evens at 6-6. Cody then held another set point following a mini-break with a 7-6 lead in hand, but the top seed produced successive mini-breaks to go up 8-7. Although Cody managed to stave off set point to force an 8-8 impasse, Thasaporn bagged the next two points to wrap up the breaker, 10-8.
At the start of the second set, Cody dug herself a 3-0 hole after coughing up consecutive service breaks to fall behind 3-0 in double-quick time. Although she recovered one of those breaks by fighting back to a more manageable 3-2, Thasaporn broke through again and served for the match two games later with a 5-2 advantage. Cody never gave up and returned the favour with a service break of her own to take the score to 5-4. However, the No. 1 seed did not waver and closed out the final with a love hold to win, 7-6(8), 6-4.
“I played okay today. It was close in the first set. I was down 5-2, came back to 5-5, but my opponent is good. She plays smart and she knows what she needs to do to win. I called for a medical timeout in the second set to get some taping done. I pulled a muscle a couple of matches ago, but it’s fine,” said Cody.
Thasaporn also won here last year defeating compatriot Mananchaya Sawangkaew in the final. In 2018, she has won five titles from six finals on the ITF Junior Circuit. Last October, in only her third pro circuit event in her career, she managed to reach the women’s singles semifinals at the US$15,000 PTT – ITF Women’s Pro-Circuit in Nonthaburi, Thailand, before Australian Open girls’ singles champion Liang En Shuo of Chinese Taipei upended her in three sets, 6-3, 6-7(11), 4-6.
Cody and Thasaporn might well face-off again as early as next weekend, as they are the projected top 2 seeds for the upcoming GB1 Seogwipo Asia/Oceania Closed Junior Championships in Korea.
Meanwhile, Roger Ng will head to the Yucatán Peninsula for the G1 Copa Mundial Campeche FMT where Spanish world No. 24 Nicolas Alvarez heads the entry list.
About the Hong Kong Open Junior Championships
The tournament first started in 1993 as the Grade 2 International Championships of Hong Kong and later changed to Hong Kong Open Junior Championships in 1997. It was a Grade 2 event from 1993-2003. It became a Grade 4 event from 2004-2011, then Grade 3 from 2012-2013, and finally back to Grade 2 since 2014. Until this year, Yu Hiu Tung registered the best result in boys’ singles with a runner-up finish in 2002 when the tournament was held at HKSI. In 1995, Willy Chan reached the final of both girls’ singles and doubles (w/ Jackie Fu), while Tong Ka Po (w/ Diana Laksono) also reached the doubles final in 1997. Local juniors found success in boys’ doubles with John Hui (w/ Bhee Witoonpanich) in 1996 and Wayne Wong (w/ Simon Dickson) in 1998. In 2002, Jack Hui and Brian Hung engineered a barnstorming finish in front of a vociferous home crowd when they saved a match point to lift the title to become the only all-Hong Kong pairing to achieve this feat. Previous singles winners include Paradorn Srichaphan (1996), Lu Yen-Hsun (1999), Robin Soderling (2000), Lucie Safarova (2002), Latisha Chan (2003), among others. Notable finalists include Xavier Malisse (1996), Andy Roddick (1998), Sania Mirza (2001), and Angelique Kerber (2002).
Hong Kong Open Junior Championships (G2)
Victoria Park Tennis Courts
October 29-November 3, 2018
(4)Roger Ng (HKG) d. Kai Wai Yu (HKG) 6-3 6-2
(1)Thasaporn Naklo (THA) d. (2)Cody Wong (HKG) 7-6(8) 6-4
(3)Shunsuke Mitsui/Fumiya Yoshino (JPN) d. Roger Ng/Xiao Linang (HKG/CHN) 7-5 6-4
(2)Mananchaya Sawangkaew/Andjela Skrobonja (THA/SRB) d. (4)Chang Ting-Pei/Wang Jiaqi (TPE/CHN) 6-3 6-2