King Withdraws from NZ Open due to injury

Day One Wrap

The New Zealand Open has kicked off with a bang as competition got underway today at Mercury Arena in Tauranga.

Malaysia’s Low Wee Wern overcame a serious looking injury as she came from behind to beat Alex Haydon and progress to the second round of the Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Women’s Open, while in the Lucino Vanities New Zealand Men’s Open, there were upset victories for Indian duo Velavan Senthilkumar and Abhay Singh.

Low had appeared to be in complete control when she took the first game 11-3, only for Haydon to respond well with 11-4, 11-7 wins to move into the lead.

Low restored parity with another dominant 11-3 and seemed to have one foot in the second round when she earned three match balls at 10-7.

Disaster then struck for the Malaysian, with the 33-year-old landing heavily on her leg after a collision with the Australian and requiring lengthy treatment.

After returning, Low struggled to move properly and Haydon picked off the match balls to force a tie break.

Incredibly, Low was able to wrestle back momentum, digging in and eventually prevailing 14-12 with her sixth match ball despite her restricted mobility to set up a second round clash with top seed Nele Gilis tomorrow.

“I’ve been through matches like this before and sometimes you don’t know what’s going on with your body and that’s the tough part about it. But mentally, I know I can still push to the limit when it matters and that’s what I had to do today,” Low said afterwards.

Elsewhere in the women’s event, the higher ranked players recorded largely comfortable wins, with home wildcard Ella Lash the only player to avoid a whitewash as she went down 3-1 to Germany’s Saskia Beinhard.

Meanwhile, in the men’s event, World No.63 Senthilkumar was able to get the better of World No.46 Shahjahan Khan in an entertaining match in which momentum shifted back and forth.

Senthilkumar appeared to be making light work of the former World No.25, with the Indian immaculate around court as he took a 2-0 lead through comfortable 11-5, 11-1 wins.

Khan finally began to get a measure of his opponent in the third game, reducing the deficit with an 11-5 win before pulling level with an 11-9 win in game four.

Senthilkumar, however, was able to reclaim the upper hand in the crucial fifth game, attacking the front well and retrieving excellently to clinch the contest with an 11-9 victory.

Afterwards, Senthilkumar – who will take on last Kiwi standing Paul Coll in the second round – said: “Khan was aways right there with me and it was really tough to take points. I just really had to be strong today.

“I’m really happy to keep playing and I’m looking forward [to playing top seed Coll].”

Senthilkumar was not the only player to record an upset victory in the men’s draw, with his compatriot and World No.70 Abhay Singh getting the better of USA’s World No.54 Andrew Douglas in a see-saw encounter, with Singh eventually prevailing 3-2 having led 1-0 and then trailed 1-2.

Round two of the Barfoot & Thompson New Zealand Women’s Open and the Lucino Vanities New Zealand Men’s Open begins from 13:00 (GMT+13) tomorrow, 6 December, at the Mercury Arena, Tauranga.