Amr Shabana &
Nicol David Maintain Grip On Hong Kong Titles
Two of the world's
leading squash players maintained their love-affair with Hong Kong today
when Malaysia's reigning world number one Nicol David and Egypt's former
world number one Amr Shabana successfully defended their titles in the
Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong Kong Open - celebrating their fourth
successive Hong Kong Open triumphs, but their fifth major Tour titles in the
People's Republic of China territory after both winning the World Open
crowns in Hong Kong in 2005.
Top seed Nicol
David recorded her most decisive win of the set when she overwhelmed Omneya
Abdel Kawy, the sixth seed from Egypt, 11-4, 11-7, 11-7 in the final of the
women's $74,000 women's WISPA Gold event just 25 minutes.
Abdel Kawy, the
24-year-old world No8 from Cairo, celebrated her maiden appearance in a WISPA
Gold final after upsetting Australia's third seed Rachael Grinham in the
But it was one-way
traffic for David in the final as the Penang 26-year-old - who arrived in Hong
Kong fresh from winning her fourth World Open title in Amsterdam -
brushed aside the younger Egyptian's challenge to claim the 41st WISPA World
Tour title of her career, and her seventh of the year.
"I always feel
comfortable here, I think itís because itís the closest I get to home," David
said afterwards. "And I guess Hong Kong is my lucky charm. Iíve been pretty
lucky here since 2005, and so far so good!
"Although I havenít
dropped a game this week, this was in no way an easy tournament. All the girls
seem to raise their games when they play against me, and believe me, I had to
work hard every round. But I just arrived from the Worlds, and I guess I carried
the momentum with me.
"I thought I played
very well today - I wish it could be like that all the time," concluded the
five-time HK champion.
Third seed Amr
Shabana made his breakthrough in the men's $145,000 PSA World Tour Super
Series Platinum event when he beat top seed Karim Darwish, the world
number one and fellow Egyptian, in the semi-finals.
For the third time
in as many years, the 28-year-old from Giza faced French rival Gregory
Gaultier in the final. The second seed and world number two had reached the
climax in straightforward style, dropping just two games since the first round.
Shabana took the
opening game, but - in a repeat of the pattern 12 months ago - Gaultier fought
back to draw level.
But it soon became
clear that the 26-year-old from Aix-en-Provence was being troubled by a thigh
injury picked up some months earlier. Shabana took the third easily before
Gaultier conceded the match midway through the fourth, with the score standing
at 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 5-2.
"Winning my fifth
title here is an amazing feeling, especially with the quality of the players
nowadays on the tour," exclaimed a delighted Shabana later. "If you donít play
well one day, thatís it, you are out.
"Of course, you
would like to win a match by winning the last point, not because your opponent
is injured, but a tournament like this is five matches, and I beat the World
Junior Champion, the World number one on the way, and Iíve perform my best all
week I feel. So itís not just about winning the final.
"At one-all, I
could see him struggling a bit with his movement, so I gave it a big push at the
start of the third. You know, Greg is a remarkable athlete, heís got a perfect
balance between defence and attack, Iím sorry he is injured, but I know him
enough, we are very close friends, Iím sure that within a week, heíll be as
strong as anything, and probably will beat us all in the Worlds!
"I was world number
one for a while, then I lost my ranking, I was injured, but as long as the body
holds, Iím up for getting my place back. The equation is really simple. You win
matches, your ranking goes up. You lose matches, your ranking goes down. I know
what Iíve got to do!"
Course For Fourth Hong Kong Titles
games wins in today's (Saturday) semi-finals of the Cathay Pacific Gale Well
Hong Kong Open have put Amr Shabana and Nicol David on course
to win their fourth successive titles in the established international squash
event which was first staged in 1985.
Egypt's third seed
Amr Shabana will face Frenchman Gregory Gaultier in the final of the
men's $145,000 PSA World Tour Super Series Platinum event for the third
year in a row.
It was on all-glass
court set in Hollywood Plaza, one of Hong Kong's busiest shopping malls,
that Shabana beat fellow countryman Karim Darwish, the top seed who
succeeded him as world number one at the beginning of the year, 12-10, 11-8,
11-4 in 35 minutes.
"Iím happy to be in
the final of Hong Kong again," the 30-year-old from Giza said afterwards.
"Beating Karim today, the world number one, is a great moment for me.
"Physically was not
the hardest aspect of the match, it was more from a mental side it was the
hardest. Youíve got to be extremely strong.
realise what one of Karimís greatest talent is - he reads the game better than
anybody else. So youíve got to keep mixing up your shots constantly, because if
you keep on doing the same thing again and again, heíll get used to it. So
youíve got to keep changing and changing all the time."
Gaultier is also celebrating his 36th appearance in a PSA Tour final. The world
number two from Aix-en-Provence ended James Willstrop's run, beating the
eighth-seeded Englishman 11-3, 11-8, 11-5 in a repeat of his victory over his
European rival at the same stage of the competition twelve months ago.
Nicol David arrived
in Hong Kong fresh from winning her fourth World Open title in Amsterdam.
And the world number one from Malaysia maintained the same level of
concentration in the semi-finals of the women's $74,000 women's WISPA Gold
event to beat England's Laura Massaro - the eighth seed who upset
fourth-seeded compatriot Alison Waters in the previous round.
"It's great to be
in Hong Kong, there's a very Asian feel to it which makes me feel at home, and
all the spectators watching here in the Plaza make for a great atmosphere," said
David after the 11-6, 11-5, 12-10 victory which takes the 26-year-old into the
56th Tour final of her career.
David meets former
junior rival Omneya Abdel Kawy in the unexpected climax of the women's
championship. The sixth-seeded Egyptian avenged her loss to Rachael Grinham
in the World Open semi-finals by beating the Australian third seed 11-4, 11-4,
11-7 in just 27 minutes.
"I was really
focused, it was my second major semi-final and I really wanted to make a final,
and I lost from 2-0 against Rachael in the worlds which was so frustrating so I
really wanted to win for that reason too," explained the beaming 24-year-old
from Cairo later.
"Last time I was
thinking too much about what was happening, about the next round, so this time I
made sure I was just taking it point by point in the third, I think I kept my
"I'm so pleased to
reach my first major final, I've done well in a few silver events, but this will
be good for my ranking and my confidence."
Willstrop & Massaro Make The Hong Kong Headlines
internationals James Willstrop and Laura Massaro recorded
breakthrough wins in the quarter-finals of the Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong
Kong Open to earn unexpected places in the semi-finals of the established
international squash event first staged in 1985.
Willstrop, still fighting back to top form after a layoff following ankle
surgery, recovered from a game down to beat Egypt's world champion Ramy
Ashour 6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 12-10 in 47 minutes to reach the last four of the
men's $145,000 PSA World Tour Super Series Platinum event for the third
time in four years.
It was only the
26-year-old Yorkshireman's second win over the fourth-ranked player in the world
in seven meetings Ė and followed a marathon 90-minute first round win, and
49-minutes last sixteen success for Willstrop in the previous 48 hours.
"Itís good to be
able to play such a game after two hard matches - Iím not sure that 18 months
ago I would have been able to do it," conceded Willstrop afterwards.
"But itís only the
quarters, Iím only in the semis - and I came here to win. But you canít get a
win over Ramy and not recognise itís a good day!"
The former world
number two from Leeds now lines up against long-time European rival Gregory
Frenchman Gaultier took exactly an hour to overcome compatriot Thierry Lincou
Ė champion of the event in 2004 - 11-5, 4-11, 11-6, 11-4 to get one step closer
to his third final appearance in a row.
The other men's
semi-final is the eagerly-awaited all-Egyptian clash predicted by the seedings Ė
featuring top seed Karim Darwish, the world number one who has never
before progressed beyond the quarter-finals, and third seed Amr Shabana,
the former world number one who has his sights on a fourth successive crown.
Mohd Azlan Iskandar's run Ė but it took the 28-year-old from Cairo
five games and 71 minutes to overcome the unseeded Malaysian 11-7, 11-13,
11-8, 6-11, 11-7.
Shabana also faced
an unseeded opponent Ė and dropped the first game to English outsider Daryl
Selby before coming back to win 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8 in 56 minutes.
"Daryl is so hard
to read, which means that you are not standing on the ball the way you would
like to, and you see the ball a bit too late. Iíve been watching him play for
years, I was very wary of him, and really had to push," explained the world
"He is such a
dangerous player. I like his technique, he hits the ball very flat, and every
time I would open the court, I just didnít know what he was going to do!"
Laura Massaro, also
the eighth seed in the women's $74,000 women's WISPA Gold event, took on
fourth seed Alison Waters, the England team-mate whom she had only beaten
once before in nine meetings over the past six years.
After taking the
first two games, Massaro squandered the next two to allow her opponent to draw
level. But, spurred on by her sports psychologist husband Danny Massaro,
the Lancashire lass battled back to win 11-7, 11-8, 4-11, 8-11, 11-3 in 52
"I felt good from
the start, found my rhythm and everything was coming quite easily. I've been
trying to relax and enjoy it more while I'm playing, and I felt very relaxed at
the start of the match.
"Danny fired me up
after the fourth - he told me I'd been two-nil up, did I think I could win and
did I really want it. I said 'yes', expecting some more advice - but he just
said 'go for it then,' and left me to it!" explained the 25-year-old from
"I've been on the
wrong end of some tough 3/1 and 3/2 matches against Ali, so it's good to get one
back. It's great to be in the semis, and I'm really looking forward to playing
on the glass court in the Plaza."
Massaro now faces
top seed Nicol David, the world number one from Malaysia who took just 34
minutes to brush aside England's fifth seed Jenny Duncalf 11-2, 11-6,
Rachael Grinham was expecting to meet her younger sister Natalie Grinham
in the other women's semi-final. Third seed Rachael beat Ireland's Madeline
Perry to earn her place in the last four - but illness caused second seeded
Natalie to pull out of the event after the first round, leaving France's 14th
seed Camille Serme and Egypt's 6th seed Omneya Abdel Kawy to fight
for the last semi-final berth.
It was the
higher-ranked Kawy who prevailed, winning 11-3, 11-6, 14-12 in 27 minutes to set
up her 22nd career clash with Grinham senior, with the Australian currently
heading their head-to-head standings 16-5.
Selby & Iskandar
Earn First-Time Appearances In Hong Kong Quarters
Selby and Mohd Azlan Iskandar captured notable scalps in the second
round of the Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong Kong Open to earn their first
appearances in the quarter-finals of the men's $145,000 PSA World Tour Super
Series Platinum squash event, which was established in 1985.
Azlan Iskandar claimed the biggest scalp, beating 2001 champion David
Palmer - the fifth seed from Australia who has not failed to reach the
event's last eight since winning the title in 2001.
The world No20 from
Kuala Lumpur recovered from a game down, then stemmed a fourth game fightback by
former world champion Palmer to win 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 7-11, 11-4 in 72 minutes.
admired David, he is my role model, and will be for still a very long time,"
Iskandar said after his first ever win over the Australian. "I was moving a bit
better than David, and I think that made the difference. I donít think he was
playing at his best today.
"I was leading
pretty much every game, I played deep in the corners, good length to then take
it short. Iím also working at keeping and controlling my emotions better, not to
get over excited. So, Iím happy with the win, obviously - but I have to stay
humble, because I really donít think David was at his best."
faced Essex county colleague and good friend Peter Barker, the seventh
seed. The 26-year-old world No21 was in sparkling form, despatching world No9
Barker 11-5, 11-6, 11-1 to register the first Tour win over his Essex rival in
six meetings since February 2006.
"I played very well
- it was some of the best squash I've ever played," conceded Selby later.
The two non-seeds
now face the event's biggest names: Iskandar takes on top seed Karim Darwish,
the world number one who defeated Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema 11-9, 8-11,
11-7, 11-7, while Selby also faces an Egyptian, defending champion Amr
Shabana - who took 55 minutes to overcome up-and-coming fellow countryman
Mohamed El Shorbagy 12-10, 11-5, 11-9.
The last sixteen
matches in the women's $74,000 women's WISPA Gold event all went with
seeding - except for the bottom match in the draw which was unplayed after
second seed Natalie Grinham was taken ill during the previous night and
too weak to take part.
disappointed as I have been playing well and was really prepared for this week,"
said the Dutch world number two. "It's a title I haven't won but I have been
hit hard by this overnight so I guess I will have to wait another year to try
France's 14th seed
Camille Serme was the lucky recipient of the walkover. The 20-year-old
from Creteil will take on Egypt's Omneya Abdel Kawy after the sixth seed
beat France's Isabelle Stoehr 10-12, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9.
number one Nicol David moved another step towards her fourth successive
title after ending Hong Kong interest in the event by beating Asian rival
Rebecca Chiu 11-3, 11-6, 11-3.
Top seed David will
now face England's Jenny Duncalf in a repeat of their recent World
Open quarter-final in Amsterdam. Duncalf, the fifth seed from Harrogate in
Yorkshire, defeated unseeded Egyptian Engy Kheirallah 11-7, 5-11, 11-5,
Chiu Keeps Home
Hopes Alive In Hong Kong
will fly a lone flag for Hong Kong in the second round of her country's
biggest international squash tournament after beating South Korea's Song
Sun-Mi in the first round of the Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong Kong Open,
the long-established Tour event which has attracted the world's top men and
The former Asian
Games gold medallist conquered qualifier Song Sun-Mi 11-9, 11-4, 11-4 Ė and
was expected to join Annie Au, her successor as Hong Kong number one, in
the last sixteen of the $74,000 women's WISPA Gold event.
But Au, the
20-year-old 12th seed, crashed out of the event Ė beaten 4-11, 11-5, 11-4, 11-6
by unseeded Egyptian Engy Kheirallah.
from Cairo will go on to meet England's fifth seed Jenny Duncalf Ė while
Chiu will be reunited with Asian rival Nicol David, the world number one
from Malaysia who is seeded to win the title for the fourth year in a row. It
was David who stopped Chiu in last year's second round.
"It's my annual
meeting with Nicol next, we always seem to play once a twice a year and usually
here," Chiu said later. "Don't ask me what my game plan is - I don't
have one! I'll just go on to try my best and see what happens!"
The biggest upset
in the women's event was claimed by Australian qualifier Donna Urquhart.
Celebrating her 100th match on the WISPA World Tour, the 22-year-old from
New South Wales beat New Zealand's Jaclyn Hawkes, the 11th seed, 11-8,
11-5, 11-9 - reproducing the same form which saw her reach the quarter-finals of
last month's British Open as a qualifier.
A pair of seeds
also failed to make the last sixteen in the men's $145,000 PSA World Tour
Super Series Platinum event.
Selby maintained the form which has seen him rise to a career-high world
No21 ranking by overcoming Finland's 16th seed Olli Tuominen 12-10, 11-9,
13-11 in 63 minutes.
"Iím so happy with
this win, it was a big match for me," said the 26-year-old from Essex Ė who now
faces county colleague and England team-mate Peter Barker. The
seventh-seeded left-hander despatched French qualifier Renan Lavigne
11-3, 11-1, 11-7.
Azlan Iskandar also recorded a straight games upset, beating Australia's
15th seed Cameron Pilley 11-9, 11-7, 11-4. The 27-year-old world No20,
ranked three positions below Pilley, will now face another Australian,
The fifth seed,
champion of the event in 2001, saw off Egyptian qualifier Mohd Ali Anwar Reda
11-2, 11-7, 11-4.
the defending champion from Egypt who is bidding to win the men's title for the
fourth successive year and become the second most successful champion in the
event's 24-year history, needed only 28 minutes to conquer Colombian qualifier
Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-6, 11-7, 11-7.
The third seed will
now line up against compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy after the 18-year-old
14th seed defeated Pakistan's Farhan Mehboob 11-8, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8.
The day's most
disappointed player will no doubt be Ong Beng Hee, the unseeded Malaysian
who kept eighth seed James Willstrop on court for 90 minutes, and
recovered from two games down to reach match ball in the decider Ė but
ultimately went down 12-10, 11-4, 9-11, 7-11, 14-12.
twice a semi-finalist over the past three years, will now face Australia's 13th
seed Stewart Boswell.
Elise Extends Local
Interest In Hong Kong Open
Elise Ng became Hong Kong's sole
success in the qualifying finals of the Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong Kong
Open after surviving two tie-break games to earn a place in the main draw of
the $74,000 women's WISPA Gold squash event.
In the men's $145,000 PSA World Tour Super Series Platinum event,
France's Julien Balbo twice came from behind to deny another local
success when he beat Hong Kong's Max Lee 5-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-2 in
an 82-minute battle.
Elise Ng beat Japan's Misaki Kobayashi 13-11, 16-14, 11-8 in 33 minutes
and, in her third successive appearance in the event's first round, will line up
against second seed Natalie Grinham, from the Netherlands.
India's Dipika Pallikal became the youngest - and lowest ranked - player
to earn a place in the main draw after an impressive straight games success.
The 18-year-old from Chennai, ranked 54 in the world, ousted Joelle King
- beating the New Zealander ranked 32 in the world 14-12, 11-5, 11-5. The
teenager is drawn to face Egypt's Raneem El Weleily, the 16th seed.
South Korea's Song Sun-Mi also recorded a notable win - and claimed her
first place in the main draw of a WISPA Gold event as a qualifier after
upsetting higher-ranked Hong Kong opponent Christina Mak 7-11, 11-6,
7-11, 11-9, 11-8. The 19-year-old from Kyung-Do now meets another local player,
Hong Kong number one Rebecca Chiu, the 13th seed.
Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez earned his first appearance in the men's
main draw of the Hong Kong Open after surviving a 78-minute battle against
Egypt's Omar Abdel Aziz, winning 11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-8.
The 23-year-old from Bogota now faces third seed Amr Shabana, the
defending champion from Egypt who is hoping to win his fourth successive title
in Hong Kong.
South African Stephen Coppinger pulled off a notable upset, beating
England's world No45 Chris Simpson 4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4. The
Dublin-born world No60 now takes on Australia's 13th seed Stewart Boswell
in his maiden appearance in the main draw.
Darwish Set To Foil
Shabana's Fourth Title Bid In Hong Kong
Shabana's bid to become the second
most successful player ever in one of the longest-established events on the
PSA World Tour could be scuppered by fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish in
this week's Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong Kong Open.
Super Series Platinum event - established in 1985 and one of the
longest-running events on the men's world squash circuit - gets underway at the
Hong Kong Squash Centre following two days of qualifying. Semi-finals
and final action will take place on an all-glass court at the Plaza Hollywood
world number one from Cairo, is seeded to win the Hong Kong Open crown for the
first time - while Shabana, his predecessor at the top of the PSA world
rankings, is the event's third seed and hoping to win the title for the fourth
take Shabana ahead of fellow three-time winner Peter Nicol, and make the
30-year-old the event's second most successful player - behind eight times
champion Jansher Khan.
jointly celebrating one of the most rewarding successes of their careers when
Egypt secured the title at the world team championships last month, Darwish and
Shabana are expected to go head-to-head in the Hong Kong Open semi-finals.
is marking his 12th successive appearance in the event since 1996, takes on a
qualifier in the opening round and is predicted to meet England's No7 seed
Peter Barker in the quarter-finals.
arrives in Hong Kong fresh from victory in the Sky Open, also a Super
Series Platinum event, in his home city last month. But the 28-year-old has yet
to progress beyond the quarter-finals in six Hong Kong appearances since 2001.
He also meets a qualifier in the first round - and is scheduled to meet 2001
champion David Palmer, the fifth seed from Australia, in the last eight
Gaultier will also be hungry for success in Hong Kong after finishing as
runner-up for the past two years. The Frenchman, ranked two in the world, is
the second seed - and begins his 2009 campaign against a qualifier before a
likely quarter-final clash with compatriot Thierry Lincou, the sixth seed
who won the title in 2004.
Nicol David Sets Sights On Fourth Successive Crown In Hong Kong
up her 40th WISPA World Tour squash title at the Forexx Womenís World
Open Championship in Amsterdam last month, Nicol David is
going for her fourth crown in a row this week in Hong Kong where the
Malaysian is seeded to win the Women's Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong Kong
WISPA Gold event gets underway at the Hong Kong Squash Centre on
Wednesday (14 October) following two days of qualifying. Semi-finals and final
action will take place on an all-glass court at the Plaza Hollywood Shopping
David, who has
held the world number one ranking continuously since August 2006, will face
top-ranked Dane Line Hansen in the opening round Ė and is expected to go
on to face Asian rival and local star Rebecca Chiu in the next round
before coming up against a pair of English opponents, Jenny Duncalf and
Alison Waters, as she sets up her predicted place in the final.
anticipated battles with fifth seed Duncalf and fourth seed Waters would be
repeats of last month's quarter-final and semi-final World Open clashes!
suggests that Nicol David's opponent in Sunday's final will be Dutch rival
Natalie Grinham, the Australian-born world number two who finished as
runner-up in Amsterdam. Grinham is seeded to reach the final after overcoming
her third-seeded sister Rachael Grinham in the penultimate round. World
number four Rachael was runner-up last year, while younger sister Natalie was
the beaten finalist in 2007.
championship has already incurred one casualty Ė in addition to world number
three Natalie Grainger, whose foot injury prevented her entering:
England's Tania Bailey, the former world No4 who finished as runner-up in
2006, has withdrawn following a streptococcal infection.