Second-seeded Jack Wong is back in the winner’s circle for the first time here in five years after he beat fellow two-time champion, Kevin Wong, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3), to lift the men’s singles title. With the 2021 men’s and mixed doubles already in the bag, Jack’s haul of three open titles concurrently equalled the feat he first achieved back in 2015, a year in which he also won the CRC schoolboys’ singles and doubles for good measure.
In Sunday’s finale, reigning HK Nationals winner, Kevin Wong, double-faulted to concede his serve and trailed 3-1 in the first set. Jack Wong consolidated at once for 4-1 after the top seed threw down successive forehand errors. However, Kevin Wong broke right back in the seventh game and then held with authority to reach a 4-4 impasse. The former Michigan Wolverine broke through again to lead 6-5 and then proceeded to save two break points before belting a first serve winner to hold for a topsy-turvy opener, 7-5.
In the ensuing set, an abundance of loose forehands from the top seed was sufficient for Jack Wong to break in the sixth game for 4-2, an advantage that was all that he needed to snatch the second 6-3 and send matters to a third set.
Jack Wong threaded a forehand down the line passing shot to break for 1-0 and then held confidently at love to consolidate for a quick-fire 2-0 lead. However, Kevin Wong finally managed to catch up by breaking back in the eighth game to draw level at 4-4. Break point opportunities were few and far between at this juncture, as the seesawing battle headed for the inevitable tiebreak. On serve at 2-1, Kevin Wong’s attempt to seize immediate initiative saw him strike a backhand that was flattened out for added pace but ended up overshooting it beyond the baseline. It was followed by a big inside-out forehand but that, too, sailed wide and gave Jack Wong successive mini-breaks to take a 4-1 lead. It became 5-1 when Kevin Wong drove another full-blooded backhand drive into the net and even though his continued aggressive play brought him momentarily back to 5-3, two more backhands that failed to clear the net gave Jack Wong game, set, and match, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3).
“Kevin was playing really well, so I don’t see I had any other option besides committing to tough defense and keeping a lot of balls in play in order to make him run,” said Jack Wong. “Although I lost my serve at 4-3 in the third, I still handled the pressure situation and managed to hold my last two service games to force the tiebreak.”
“The tiebreak is just a matter of who can step up their game and play better. I think I did well there to start out the first few points, got a quick lead, he missed a couple of backhands, and that was it. I kind of felt relieved after I won, more than anything, to be honest,” he added.
“He played well those last couple of games in the final set. I had to play big in the breaker or else I would have no chance,” reflected Kevin Wong.
They last met in the final here in 2017 when Jack Wong was attempting to three-peat after he had beaten Phillip King and Allen Belobrajdic the previous two years for back-to-back titles. However, on that occasion, even though he was merely two points away from sealing the deal when he led, 6-2, 5-4, and 30-0, Kevin Wong engineered a stirring comeback, 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, to win his first CRC Open.
With Sunday’s victory, Jack Wong now joins Ip Koon Hung (1948, 1951-52, 1954, 1957-60, 1962-64), To Kwun Kau (1949-50, 1953, 1956, 1961), Tau Luu (1970-77), Randall King (1980-82, 1985), Michael Walker (1988-91), Yu Hiu Tung (2001-02, 2006), Wayne Wong (2004-05, 2008-09), and Phillip King (2011-13) as the only players with three or more career CRC Open men’s singles titles.
In Friday’s semifinals, Kelvin Lam led Jack Wong by a set and fought back from 5-1 down to 5-5 in the second when he held two break points with his opponent serving at 15-40. However, he was unable to capitalise, dumping a second serve return into the net on his first opportunity and then got jammed by an incoming body serve on the second. From that moment on, Kelvin Lam struggled to summon his mental focus when he needed it most, and the encounter manifested into an uphill battle, as Jack Wong ran away with the match, 6-7(5), 7-6(2), 6-0.
Earlier on Saturday, top-seeded Jack Wong/Kevin Wong, the 2017 champions, managed to keep No. 2 seed Kelvin Lam/Lee Hsin-Han at bay with an assortment of low, stinging returns, winning in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, to lift the men’s doubles title. In the ladies’ singles final, No. 1 seed Ki Yan Tung defeated this year’s schoolgirls’ champion, Chloris Li, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4. Jack Wong also teamed up with Sher Chun Wing to beat Lee Hsin-Han/Ki Yan Tung, 6-4, 6-1, to capture the mixed doubles title together for the fourth time as a tandem. In doing so, they equalled the previous record held by Tau Luu/Ling Tsui Yuen Yuen, who were victorious in 1977, 1979, and 1981-82. The ladies’ doubles went to top seed Zhang Ling/Sher Chun Wing, who beat teenagers Butter Cheung/Che Sin Yu, 6-2, 6-3, in the final.
Full Results: https://bit.ly/3HXEvKq
Photos: CRC Open