An ankle injury deep into the second set forced defending champion and No. 4 seed Lee Pei-Chi of Chinese Taipei to surrender her reign when she retired against Wu Ho Ching, 3-6, 5-4, after two hours and fifteen minutes of play in the US$15,000 Formosa Cup final.
“I had a great week in Taipei, overcoming tough opponents and weather conditions. Hope there’s more to come,” said Wu. The win marks career title number two in women’s singles for Wu following her breakthrough at the US$15,000 event in Sangju , Korea, earlier in June.
In the first set against Lee, who has a current WTA Ranking of No. 460, Wu conceded her first two service games before breaking back to get on the board to trail 4-1. However, she failed to consolidate, as Lee managed to return the courtesy after another series of protracted baseline battle to jump out to a whopping 5-1 lead.
The Hong Kong Fed Cupper then conjured a service break of her own before finally consolidating to peg the score back to a more manageable 5-3. Wu fought gamely to force a thirty-all stalemate momentarily in the ensuing game, but it was not enough to prevent the No. 4 seed from holding serve to take the set, 6-3.
The defending champion was again quick off the blocks in set 2 and immediately pounced on Wu’s serve to establish a quick-fire 1-0 lead. Lee would maintain that one break advantage until the seventh game when her upper hand began to slowly unravel.
After squandering a break point to allow Wu to hold for 4-3, Lee dug herself a 15-40 hole in the next game when Wu toughed out some long, gruelling exchanges once again. Although the fourth seed stayed strong to ward off the first break point, the HK rep dug deep to wrestle the next one to break for 4-4.
Just as the defending champion was threatening to respond in kind by taking matters to 15-15 on her opponent’s serve in the following game, Lee suffered a serious right ankle injury and could not continue after Wu held to make it 5-4.
The weather did no favours for the players either, as play was suspended twice during the week when the Heat Index reached 40.1°C (104.2°F) or above, according to ITF Regulations. The Heat Index is defined as a combined index of air temperature and relative humidity.
Wu did well to beat teammate Eudice Chong, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2, in the previous round under extreme conditions after she had come away second best in the semifinals of the US$15,000 Prudential Hong Kong Women’s Circuit just three weeks ago. Play was briefly halted with Wu leading 5-2 in the third set.
The 26-year-old’s pair of career singles titles in Sangju and Taipei, as well as the doubles in Hong Kong (w/ Ng Kwan Yau), were all captured this season.
Meanwhile, Kevin Wong and Brian Yeung had another solid fortnight, winning the US$25,000 Chinese Taipei F1 and then reaching the F2 final the following week. The Hong Kong duo has enjoyed a good run of form since dominating the doubles rubber against Lebanon in the Davis Cup back in April, reaching six finals in nine events, while grabbing three titles along the way.
“We have fond memories of the Taipei Tennis Center here where the F1 and F2 were held. It’s the same courts we played during the World University Games competition last year,” said Brian Yeung. “I think we got into a good groove these past couple of weeks in Taipei and we just got better with each encounter.”
“The matches were all pretty tough, but we stayed true to the fundamentals and utilised our strengths to get through, taking one match at a time. We still need to work on keeping our energy level consistent from start to finish, but other than that I think we figured out what we have to focus on in practice right now in preparation for the Asian Games,” he added.
They have also cracked the top 450 in doubles according to the latest ATP Rankings, with Yeung and Wong registering new career-highs of No. 423 and No. 435 respectively.