11:12 am
16 Apr 2024

Former Champion Almezayen Upsets Odds To Reach Asian Games Quarters

3 Oct 2023

Kuwait's 2014 champion Abdullah Almezayen rolled back the years in the men's singles draw of the 19th Asian Games with a gritty performance to overcome 5/8 seed Muhammad Asim Khan in Hangzhou, China.

In the women's event, Republic of Korea's Mingyeong Heo continued her nation's fine form at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre to beat 2018 bronze medal winner and 5/8 seed Joshna Chinappa.

Meanwhile, the pools stage of the mixed doubles event - which is making its Asian Games debut this year in Hangzhou - resumed and is set for an exciting conclusion.

Just days ago, Kuwaiti Almezayen - who spectacularly captured the 2014 title as the 5/8 seed - had lost out to Pakistan's Khan in the men's team event in Hangzhou.

Today, though, the 35-year-old had his revenge in a match in which momentum swung dramatically from player to player.

After taking the first game 11-4, Almezayen was brutally knocked back by an 11-1 Khan win in game two. The shot-making Kuwaiti left-hander reclaimed his lead with an 11-8 win in the third game, only to be pegged back once again by the same scoreline.

In the fifth game, though, the 9/16 seed was able to break Khan's resistance, speeding away from 3-3 to 9-3 up before clinching the decider 11-4.

Almezayen will play top seed Eain Yow Ng in the quarter-final after the Malaysian comfortably beat Qatar's Syed Amjad.

"This is such a big tournament, representing Kuwait. I think my age is not too old to win this tournament!" Almezayen said afterwards.

Hangzhou was also treated to an upset in the women's draw, with Heo dispatching Chinappa in a tight contest.

Heo, 27, is playing her first Asian Games but looked assured throughout her 37-minute contest with Chinappa - the record 19-time Indian champion making her sixth successive games appearance - keeping her cool and limiting mistakes to take the match 11-4, 10-12, 11-9, 11-8.

After the match, Heo said: "I didn't even think about [the seedings] but I'm so happy that I won and am looking forward to tomorrow as well. I'll play with confidence!"

Heo will face Malaysian No.2 seed Sivasangari Subramaniam after the Malaysian beat Pakistan's Noor Ul Ain Ijaz in just 14 minutes.

Elsewhere, the singles draw went according to seedings, with Japan's Satomi Watanabe, top seed in the women's draw, easing into the quarter-final with a 3/0 win over Heo's compatriot Jihyun Lee.

In the mixed doubles event, there were a number of comeback victories, with Philippines, Republic of Korea and Thailand all battling back from a game down to beat Sri Lanka, Japan and Nepal, respectively.

That win for Republic of Korea leaves the race for qualification in Pool A open, with India's top seeded pairing of Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Harinder Sandhu - who did not play today - top with two wins, with Japan and Republic of Korea on one win each, and Pakistan without a win. Republic of Korea face Pakistan tomorrow, while Japan take on India.

Meanwhile, Malaysia and Sri Lanka top Pool B, with Hong Kong, China's two teams topping Pools C and D.