Nouran Gohar defends her
title in Macau, while Yip Tsz-Fung wins his biggest one By Alex Wan
It was a night that belonged to Yip Tsz-Fung as the home crowd favourite
came back from two games down to win the biggest title in his career,
while Nouran Gohar once again came out tops against compatriot Salma
Gohar halted the run of Salma Hany in an entertaining match lasting four
games, thus successfully defending the title she won last year. As many
expected, it was a close contest between the pair.
The first game started with Gohar taking an early lead before Hany
coming back to nudge ahead at 4-3 and then 6-5. Right after, Gohar went
on a rampage and took four points in a row for a three-point cushion and
never looked back, winning 11-8 for the lead.
Gohar’s rampage continued in the second as she quickly raced into a 6-0
lead. A spirited effort from Hany to come within a point at 8-9, but
Gohar was not going to let this slip away for a 2-0 lead.
The third was an even contest with both women trading points right from
the start. Hany led early 3-1, then 6-4 and 10-8 before finally closing
the game out 11-9 to give herself a lifeline.
Gohar saved her best for last as she went from 5-4 to championship ball
with a commanding display of power which left Hany flat footed. The big
lead from that was too much damage as Hany finally succumbed on her
fourth championship ball down, and Gohar successfully defended her
“I didn’t have the best season last season, so hopefully winning this,
it will help boost my performance this this year. We have the El Gouna
next up which is big especially it will be held back home, and then
finish off with the British Open, so I hope this will help kick start me
once again,” said a jubilant Nouran Gohar who walks home with US$ 7,671.
the men’s event, Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz-Fung created a major upset as he
beat former champion Omar Mosaad. After a very close first game where
both players played cautiously. It was Mosaad who played the last few
crucial points better and went ahead 11-9.
The second game looked good for Yip as he nudged ahead to 6-4, but some
very careless play and perhaps a loss of concentration on his part led
to a disastrous 6-11 defeat, with the last two points on a stroke from
his loose attempt into the nick.
With two games down, many wouldn’t be faulted to think the third would
be a tame affair. Tame it was, but it was on Mosaad’s end as he seems to
struggle very much with his movement, often guessing the shots when Yip
was on the attack. It was a one-way traffic with Yip going to 7-1
quickly before wrapping up 11-4, and close in on the main score.
There was lots left to be desired with the refereeing in the men’s final
tonight as there were quite a few surprising calls and even worse, the
consistency of calls. This led to the fourth game being a contest
between the players and the referee, as both players seem to be trying
to push the buttons of the referee. It was not a pretty game and Mosaad
continues to struggle, which could possibly with the humidity in court.
11-5 to Yip and we have a decider.
It was clear from the start, Mosaad was making one final assault in this
game, as he chased down everything in the start and even went ahead 3-1.
But he soon ran out of gas as Yip was playing with a lot more patience
now, sending the ball all over the corners of the court in a bid to move
the Egyptian around. At 6-5 up, Yip made his move and starting from a
tin from Mosaad which allowed Yip to go 7-5, there was no turning back.
After just under an hour, Yip won his biggest title to date.
“First of all, I am very happy to have won, what more a $50k event. But
it was very tough in
there, especially being 2-0 down. I am very glad I managed to come back,
and Omar is a very tough opponent, so to win this is very special.
I didn’t lose concentration after seeing Omar was struggling. In fact, I
feel that gave me a boost as I felt I have a better opportunity now. I
was also helped by my coaches Faheem (Khan) and Chris (Robertson) who
asked me to use the whole court and be less tensed.
I would like to thank all my coaches – my fitness coach Jamie, squash
coaches Faheem and Chris. I also want to thank my girlfriend and all
those who came to support me,” a very happy Yip Tsz-Fung told us after
his heroic feat.
Yip Tsz-Fung and Salma Hany make maiden
By Alex Wan
Egypt dominated the evening as all three of their semi-finalists won
their matches. The women’s event will be an all-Egyptian affair between
defending champion Nouran Gohar and Salma Hany, who will feature in her
first ever $50k final. In the men’s, Yip Tsz-Fung, who won the all-Hong
Kong encounter, will also be playing his biggest final, will face former
champion Omar Mosaad.
the first match of the evening, Omar Mosaad saw off a spirited challenge
of Hong Kong’s Max Lee, who was making his third semi-final in four
years here. The first game saw some cautious play from both the players,
with Lee taking the early lead 5-2. But two burst of points from the big
Egyptian saw him take the lead 11-7.
The second game started in similar fashion with Lee taking the lead once
again, but this time, he never looked back as he slowly inched home the
The next game was probably the most important game. It was close and
intense, with both players trading point for point mostly. It took a
while, but Mosaad eventually inched away the game on his fourth game
With the lead, Mosaad played with a lot more confidence in the fourth. A
quick lead at the start to 3-0 and 5-1 did the damage, as Lee was too
far behind and never manages to come back. 11-6 to Mosaad after 53
minutes, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
“I’m just focussed match by match. I know I had a tough match last
night, a 5-setter. You know, sometimes you have to play in less perfect
circumstances and today, I had to concentrate fully on every
single point, and I think I did a very good job in the third game, and I
am very happy with my win today,” Mosaad said after.
The second match of the evening saw Salma Hany and Joey Chan play the
match of the evening, with the Egyptian triumphant after 46 minutes. It
was a match of momentum as both players seem take turns taking charge,
but in the fifth, it was Salma Hany all the way as she went to a 6-0,
10-2 and eventually wrapping up 11-2 after 46 minutes on court.
“So I had a very slow start in the beginning, I was never very into the
match. So I told myself to push through the second and the third. The
second was very crucial, and to take the lead in the third. I lost a bit
of concentration in the fourth and in the fifth, I just pushed for every
point. Joey is such a tough opponent and I cannot let her play her game.
So I am glad in the end, I managed to get the win,” said Salma Hany who
will tomorrow feature in her first $50k final.
Tsz-Fung is the only Hong Kong player to come through after scoring only
his second win over more illustrious compatriot Leo Au. As expected, it
was a close affair given that they both know each other’s game inside
out. But this evening, Yip was playing exceptionally well and was
controlling for most parts of the match. While he lost the second game
closely, he won convincingly all the other games.
“Yeah it’s only second time, but whichever time it is, it always feels
good to win. I’ve been here many times and today is only the first time
I got into the semis, and now I am in the final, so naturally, I’m very
happy about it. Today, I felt my concentration was very good and I was
able to stick to my game plan. There was a phase where I was off
focussed but I managed to regroup. I think the mental focus was the
key,” said Yip who has made it to his biggest event final.
the final match of the evening, a repeat of the last three years’ semis,
Nouran Gohar made it three of three as she beat Hong Kong’s Annie Au in
four games. It was very, very close in the first two games, with both
players matching each other very well. But it was Gohar who manages to
play the final points better to win both on the tie-break.
The third was all Au as she chopped her way through with her trademark
shot-making, winning for the loss of just three points. But Gohar
regrouped, and returned the favour in the fourth, winning in commanding
“It was very crucial to win the first two games, especially the second
one. Annie is playing really well and she was dominating a lot. These
days everyone is playing so well and you just have to wait and take any
opportunities that come. I’m happy with the mental side of my game
today, I tried to stay tough and that was the most crucial thing to do
today. Hopefully I will stay positive again tomorrow and I am really
glad to play my second final in Macau and hoping for a good match
tomorrow against Salma,” said the defending champion.
and Salma Hany send top seeds packing By Alex Wan
There will be no top seeds in the finals of the Macau Squash Open for
the second year running as both the men’s and women’s top seeds were
shockingly shown the door in similar fashion. Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz-Fung
and Egyptian Salma Hany both put in stellar performances to eject Borja
Golan and Camille Serme in straight games.
Yip and Golan are known to play a very disciplined way, and today was no
different. Two bursts of a few points at the start of the each of the
first two games allowed Yip to nudge ahead with a small gap, which he
never lost. In the third, it was all one-way traffic, as Yip went to 5-1
and 9-2, before wrapping up 11-3 in just 8 minutes, half the time of
each of the first two games.
“I played pretty well today and I’m especially happy with how I managed
to concentrate throughout the match. Maybe Borja (Golan) was a little
distracted but I am glad I managed to stay focussed and truly happy I
managed to get through this round. If Leo (Au) wins too, we’d both be
fighting for a spot for the final tomorrow, and that would be a
brilliant thing for Hong Kong squash. So, I hope he will put on a good
show later,” Yip said after.
Hong Kong are guaranteed a finalist in the men’s event Yip Tsz-Fung’s
opponent in the last four tomorrow is compatriot Leo Au, who overcame
first game jitters to oust Egyptian Omar Abdel Meguid in a somewhat
was a little nervous in the first game and I was lucky to have gotten
the last few points. After that my coach reminded me of the things I
should be doing more and things were a lot better then. Tomorrow, I hope
both Yip (Tsz-Fung) and myself will play a good match for everyone to
enjoy,” Au said.
Max Lee, one of the crowd favourites here in Macau, returns to the last
four once again, after faltering in the last eight the previous year.
The 2015 champion saw off the challenge of tricky Egyptian Mazen Hesham
in 38 minutes.
There was nearly another upset in the final match of the evening as
Qatari Abdulla Al Tamimi blew away a two game and later a 9-6 lead in
the fourth against the “Hammer of Thor” Omar Mosaad. The former world
championships finalist had to dig deep into his experience to come
through after just over an hour in court.
Hany, the 21-year-old from Alexandria pulled off the other upset of the
day as she took out Camille Serme in three games. After losing to Serme
twice last year, this time, it was her turn to shine. An incident in the
second game where Salma Hany’s follow through caught Serme’s nose
shouldn’t mar the win of the young Egyptian who played courageously.
“I’m very happy with my performance today. Playing Camille (Serme) is
always tough and yeah, I’m just happy with how I did in court and
managed to get the win.”
When asked if the incident where she hit Serme in the nose could’ve
affected the Frenchwoman, “I think Camille (Serme) is a top player and I
think she manages to handle these situations. She’s had to face such
situations before,” said a jubilant Salma Hany.
was more joy for Hong Kong as both their women Joey Chan and Annie Au
also booked their places in the last four, with Chan upsetting her
higher ranked American opponent Olivia Blatchford in four games. Having
won the first, she lost a little concentration in the next and allowed
Blatchford a run of eight consecutive points to draw level. She manages
to refocus to take the third, before having to save a game ball in the
fourth to wrap up the win on her second match ball after 43 minutes.
Annie Au, however, had an easy day in the office as she found her range
very early in the match to see off England’s world number 17 Emily
Whitlock in under 20 minutes. Her precise lobs and holds had Whitlock on
her back foot right from the start, and she never allowed Whitlock to
settle in each of the three games.
Au will face Nouran Gohar in the last four tomorrow in a repeat of last
year’s meeting at the same stage here. The Egyptian hard-hitter came
through after beating compatriot Marian Metwally in straight games.
Apart from the second game where she was forced to save two game points,
Gohar was never truly troubled.
“I’ve always loved to play tournaments in Asia, whether it’s Hong Kong,
Macau or China, it’s always nice. Winning the title last year was very
special for me, so I was very excited to come back here and play some
“Even with Camille (Serme) out, all the matches are really tough these
days. Salma Hany is playing really well and the fact that she beat
Camille, it makes her an even harder player to play because you’d be
playing someone who has no pressure and they’ve just beaten the top
seed. For all players, when you are the higher seed, there is so much
more pressure on yourself, so it’s she’d be a really tricky one to
play,” said Gohar who was asked to comment if the path seems clearer for
her to retain her title now.
Top seeds Golan and Serme lead seeds into the last
eight By Alex Wan
seeds Borja Golan and Camille Serme led all seeded players into the last
eight of the 2018 Macau Squash Open, with the Spaniard beating good
friend and fellow countryman Iker Pajares and Serme halting the run the
qualifier Yathreb Adel.
It was not a walk in the park for the top seeded Spaniard as he had to
dig deep in his 3-0 win. The score line of the first and third games,
and the 56-minute duration is a testament of how close the match went.
“It was very difficult to play Iker (Pajares) because we are very good
friends and we are from the same country. I played the PSA tour for many
years (alone) and seeing them (Spaniards) on tour now is very new to me,
and they are improving a lot, so I feel the pressure. It was a hard 3-0
and I am happy to win to get through,” said Golan after.
Steven Liu has been looking forward to get on court with Egyptian Mazen
Hesham and he was not disappointed. Despite losing out in a one-sided
encounter, he was in good spirits as he said, “It was fun in there and
it was a pleasure experiencing his trademark drops first hand. I managed
to get some of them, but his cross court drops were amazing as most of
them just went into the nick. I should watch more and learn to drop like
Hong Kong trio Max Lee, Leo Au and Yip Tsz Fung, who recently helped
Hong Kong win the Asian Team Championships, all made it into the last
eight. Max Lee had the toughest day in the office as he was stretched by
Spain’s Edmon Lopez and kept in court for close to an hour, before
earning his ticket to face “The Falcon” Mazen Hesham tomorrow.
Leo Au too didn’t quite have it easy as overturned a 1-0 deficit to win
3-1 against Karim El Hammamy, while Yip Tsz Fung came through
comfortably in the second and third games after a tough opening game
against Mohamed Elsherbini. Au’s opponent tomorrow will be Omar Abdel
Meguid of Egypt, who took out Finnish veteran Olli Tuominen.
In the bottom quarter, crowd favourite and second seed Omar Mosaad won
the all-Egyptian battle against Karim Ali Fathi and faces Qatari number
one Abdulla Al Tammimi tomorrow. Tammimi showed gutsy nerves as he
battled through a five-game encounter against German left hander Raphael
Kendra before winning in 70 minutes.
top seed Camille Serme looked impressive and well deserved her
commanding win against a tricky first round qualifier, Yathreb Adel. On
a good day, the former world number 25 would be great trouble to any
player and she had proved this a year ago on this stage. But the
disciplined game of Serme proved too much for her today as the top seed
“I’m very happy to be through the first round. I thought Yathreb was a
very tricky and dangerous first match. It’s been a while I haven’t
played her but Coline (Aumard) played her a few weeks ago, so I knew
what to expect. I know she did really well here last year and I didn’t
want to think too much about it because that’s dangerous, and you start
to stress out, and I didn’t want to feel pressured. So, I’m really happy
I won today,” said the French number one who now goes through to play
another Egyptian Salma Hany tomorrow.
Salma Hany won with relative ease against Belgium’s Nele Gilis and would
be one of three Egyptians in the last eight, after Mariam Metwally and
second seed Nouran Gohar also won today against American Haley Mendez
and Hong Kong’s Liu Tsz-Ling in straight games. Gohar will be gunning
for her second consecutive title here after winning against Joelle King
in the rain interrupted final last year.
Kong’s left handed pair of Annie Au and Joey Chan also made it into the
last eight, but in rather contrasting fashion. While lower ranked Chan
won in three, Au had to come back from 0-2 down to draw level, before
having to save three match balls at 7-10 in the fifth to clinch her
quarters, winning five points in a row at the end. She faces England’s
Emily Whitlock tomorrow, who won in four against Canadian Hollie
Annie later said, “I think she was a little tired after the first two
games, and I on the other hand, was more relaxed in the third. I told
myself there’s nothing to lose after losing the first tow, so let’s go
for it. I didn’t quite change my game plan and just went for my shots,
especially in the fifth where I was facing the match balls. I’m just
glad it worked out for me in the end.”
Local wild card teenager Gigi Yeung was no match for her American
opponent, as Olivia Blatchford spent just 16 minutes on court at the
loss of eight points.
Men’s top two
seeds ejected and Hong Kong women falter in qualifying finals
By Alex Wan
Men’s qualifying top two seeds falter as the Egyptians reigned supreme
in the qualifying finals of the 2018 Macau Squash Open this afternoon.
Karim El Hammamy, Mohamed Elsherbini and Yathreb Adel made it through to
the main draw with the men turning the tables on the seeding, as they
took out the qualifying top two seeds.
After surviving a stern match yesterday, Karim El Hammamy survived a
much longer marathon today as he bounced back from being bagelled in
first game to edge out top seed Todd Harrity of the United States in a
long contest lasting 97 minutes. Having arrived just an hour before his
opening match yesterday, playing through a five-setter and again today,
a very happy Karim said,
“I am very tired! But I am also very happy to get through, as Todd is a
very good player. There were lots of ups and down throughout the match,
but today I did not want to lose more than usual and that is what pulled
me through. I can’t wait to see what is in store for me in the main
Elsherbini made it two for Egypt after taking out England’s qualifying
second seed Nathan Lake in three entertaining games.
Gamal was the only Egyptian casualty of the evening as he was tamely
beaten Spain’s Edmon Lopez, who now faces 2015 champion Max Lee in the
Edmon will be joined in the main draw by compatriot Iker Pajares, who
edged American Christopher Gordon in three close games in 52 minutes.
However, a tough job awaits tomorrow as he has drawn the top seed and
fellow countryman Borja Golan.
Things were different in the women’s event as all matches went to
seeding. It was certainly not a day to savour for the Hong Kong camp as
all four of their women were on the losing end of the matches.
Egypt’s world number 42 Yathreb Adel had another impressive display
today as she saw off Hong Kong’s Tong Tsz-Wing in straight games. Having
taken out top seeded compatriot Raneem El Weilily in the opening round
last year, the 22 year old will now have another crack at the tournament
top seed as she is drawn to face Camille Serme tomorrow.
“I’m very happy with my win today as Tong (Tsz-Wing) is one of the
strong players. I have been focussing and getting ready for the match.
You never know who you’re going to get tomorrow so hopefully, tomorrow
is going to be a new day, a new match and I can keep going forward,”
Kong’s Lee Ka Yi would be disappointed to have come so close after just
losing out to American Haley Mendez 12-10 in the decider. Having come
back from a game down to take a 2-1 lead after a clinical 11-1 win in
the third. However, the 24 year old New Yorker came back gutsily to
force the decider, which went to the distance in her favour after 50
“I had Olivia (Blatchford) and Nathan (Lake) coaching me, so they sort
of gave me a game plan and keep me calm between games and I was able to
refocus and play one point at a time,” said Mendez when asked how she
managed to turn around in the fourth and fifth game after losing the
top seed Hollie Naughton made it three Americans in the main draw after
she won clinically against Vanessa Chu in just 24 minutes and will take
on England’s Emily Whitlock.
Second seed Milou van der Heijden did not have it as easy as she had to
battle past a gutsy Ho Tze-Lok before winning 3-1 in 41 minutes in the
final match of the evening. The win earned her a match against another
Hong Kong player in Joey Chan tomorrow.
The 2018 Macau Squash Open marks the seventh consecutive edition of the
event. It will once again offer a total purse of US$ 50,000 in each of
the men’s and women’s categories. The event will run from 27 March to 1
April 2018 and has attracted participation from a total of 16 nations.
All earlier rounds will be played at the Macau Bowling Centre while the
semis and finals will be played on an all-glass court erected on Tap
France’s highest ever ranked women’s player and world number 5 will make
her debut in the Macau Open as top seed. Defending champion Nouran Gohar
of Egypt returns to defend her title and is seeded to face Serme in the
final, whom she beat in their last meeting.
Local favourite Annie Au is the third seed and she will be looking to go
one better than last year where she went out in the last four. American
Olivia Blatchford, the world number 13, rounds up the top quartet of the
Egyptian Yathreb Adel, who last year took out top seed Raneem El Weilily
en route to a surprise semi final appearance, also returns to the event
to play through qualifying and will be looking once again to spring up a
surprise or two.
Local challenge will be headed by wild card Gigi Yeung, who is drawn to
meet American Olivia Blatchford. Gigi is returning to the event after a
year’s absence being abroad in Canada on studies, where she has been
training with Mike Johnson.
“I’m very happy to be back playing at home. Training abroad with Mike
has given me the opportunity to play with a lot of different players and
I’ve gained valuable experience from that. These experiences have helped
improve my game a lot and I hope to put up a good showing,” said Leung.
Leung will be joined by compatriots Liu Kwai Chi, Yeung Wai Ling and
Leong Leng Lam in the qualifiers.
In the men’s event, Spaniard Borja Golan heads the seeding with 2013
champion Omar Mosaad of Egypt coming in as the second seed. Hong Kong’s
Leo Au comes in with his highest seeding of the event at 3 and for the
first time, at a higher position than his compatriot Max Lee, who is
seeded fourth. The Hong Kong pair, who are home crowd favourites here,
could possibly make it an all-Hong Kong final as they have been drawn on
Seasoned local, Steven Liu will be the wildcard in the men’s event and
will have the opportunity to take on “The Falcon” Mazen Hesham of Egypt,
arguably one of the most exciting players on the tour. The 24-year old
is looking forward to the match, saying:
“Mazen is a very talented player amongst the top players. His trademark
drop shots are just spectacular and I would love to see that on court
with him. I will do my best, try not to make too many mistakes and give
away cheap points.
Austin Van, Manuel Gassmann, Wu Ka Chon and Carlos Chan Gassman make up
the other four local men in the qualifiers.
The 2018 Macau Squash Open is organised by the Macau Squash Association
and is jointly sponsored and supported be the Instituto para os Assuntos
Civicos e Municipais Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau), Melco Resorts
& Entertainment Limited, Jetone Motion (Macau) Limited Macau Coca-Cola
Beverage. Co. Ltd and CTM (Macau Telecommunications Company).
Tickets for the semi finals and finals are numbered and are available on
a first-come-first-served basis. For more details and to reserve your
seat, call Macau Squash ticketing hotline 2853 0497 or email
Matches from the semi finals and finals will also be aired live on Macau
Squash’s Facebook page.