Axelsen and Son will meet again in Hong Kong (Photo: Badminton Photo)

The battle continues at the Hong Kong Coliseum

11/11/2019 1:38 PM | |  Alan Raftery

The battle for Olympic qualification continues this week in the Hong Kong Coliseum. 

There are many fascinating duels to be had early in the men’s singles draw. One is the return of the reigning Hong Kong Open champion, Son Wan Ho. The last time we saw the steady Korean was in Birmingham, at the All England Open in March, where he unfortunately was forced to withdraw due to back pain. He then ruptured his Achilles when playing Lee Hyun Il in a domestic tournament, putting some serious doubt in his Olympic dream. 

The former world number one has had a slow return to tournament play following his operation but has likely earmarked Hong Kong as a big milestone for his comeback. His first round opponent will be Viktor Axelsen, who himself has recently returned from injury. Last time they played was at the 2018 Thomas Cup, where it went the distance, with Axelsen taking the decider 22-20, kickstarting Denmark’s three nothing quarterfinal win. This will truly be a fascinating encounter. 

Read also: Two gold medals for Karlsson

Looking ahead

If Axelsen is to be victorious against Son, then his second round rival will be the winner from Rasmus Gemke and most likely Malaysia’s Daren Liew, who would come through qualification. Gemke has had fantastic runs in both Denmark and China last week, reaching the semifinal and quarterfinal respectively. In both, he lost to world number one Kento Momota. 

The way he played in those lost matches is perhaps the most impressive element of his recent form. It shows he has a very dangerous game and can apply a lot of pressure to any opponent. 

Men’s doubles pair Mathias Boe and Mads Conrad-Petersen also feature in Hong Kong, after announcing that they will be skipping the China Open to focus on this week, due to a busy schedule ahead. Their first round opponents will be the Chinese eighth seeds, Han Cheng Kai and Zhou Hao Dong. A pair they have played three times already this year. The head to head is two to one in the Danish pair’s favour, and their opponents did play last week, so let’s hope their decision pays off. 

For the full list of seeded entries and draw, click here.

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