Squash 'of the highest calibre' brought the
2012 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open
to a magnificent climax today when Egypt's former champion
Ramy Ashour beat England's defending champion
James Willstrop in the final of the sixth PSA World
Series event of the year to regain the title he first
won in 2010.
After a rain-affected semi-final session
which had to be played in the Hong Kong Squash Centre,
the final was staged - as planned - on a spectacular
all-glass open-air showcourt erected at the Cultural
Centre Piazza on the Hong Kong waterfront at Tsim Sha
Founded in 1985, this year's 27th edition of
the championship took on greater significance than ever
before as it was attended by delegates of the
International Olympic Committee - 'inspecting' the event
with a view to assessing the sport's credentials to join the
Olympic Games programme in 2020.
Both players in the final were on top of
their game. Top seed Willstrop, the 29-year-old from Leeds
who has topped the world rankings for all but one month of
this year, opened up an 8-7 lead in the opening game - but
world No4 Ashour reeled off four points in a row to take the
The Englishman struck back to draw level,
dropping just three points as he dominated the second game.
But Ashour upped his game in the third and
fourth and after 64 minutes of stunning squash raised his
hand in celebration of his second Hong Kong Open title by an
11-8, 3-11, 11-7, 11-6 margin.
"What a match - squash of the highest
calibre," declared event MC Vanessa Atkinson, the
former world number one and world champion from the
Netherlands, as she welcomed back the players for post-match
"It's very disappointing - I was here to win
the match and I didn't do that," said Willstrop. "But I
wanted to give my best - and I did that.
"He forced me to play loose balls and he
capitalised on that brilliantly," added the Yorkshireman
after his 34th PSA World Tour final.
"It's been an encouraging week, though, to
get to the final - and the Hong Kong Open final is a serious
Ashour was his usual voluble self: "It's been
a long week - and, as I've said before, every time it feels
like five years!
"But to win my second Hong Kong Open is
something of which I am very proud," added the 25-year-old
"James was very consistent - after all, he's
been world number one for a long time.
"But things went my way tonight - and that
made the difference.
"Hopefully can get back to world number one -
I will do my best," added Ashour, who now has 26 PSA Tour
titles to his credit.
"I want to thank everyone who has helped with
this event - they've done a great job."
England's defending champion James
Willstrop will face Egypt's former champion Ramy
Ashour in the final of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung
Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open after both players
triumphed in straight games in today's semi-finals of the
rain-affected sixth PSA World Series event of the
year at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.
Top seed Willstrop, the world number one,
beat fourth-seeded Egyptian Karim Darwish 11-8, 11-5,
11-9 in 57 minutes - while Ashour, the No4 seed who won the
title in 2010, recorded his second successive win this year
over Nick Matthew by beating the world number two
from England 11-9, 11-9, 13-11 in 65 minutes.
After taking two close first games, Ashour
romped to a 7-2 lead in the third. But Matthew fought back
strongly, but two unforced errors at the end cost him as
Ashour prevailed to set up an England v Egypt clash for the
The matches were scheduled to take place on
the new outdoor all-glass showcourt erected at the
Cultural Centre on the Hong Kong waterfront at Tsim
Sha Tsui - watched by representatives of the IOC - but
rain interrupted the first semi (between Willstrop & Darwish)
midway through the first game and both matches were
rescheduled at the Squash Centre where earlier rounds had
Ramy Ashour set up two Anglo/Egyptian semi-finals in the Cathay Pacific
Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open after beating French rival
Gregory Gaultier in today's last quarter-final of the sixth PSA World
Series event of the year at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.
But the day
began with disappointing news when two of the event's leading players were
forced to concede their quarter-final matches after sustaining injuries the
Amr Shabana, the former world number one from Egypt bidding to win a
sixth Hong Kong title, bruised his rib cage, while England's Peter Barker,
the No6 seed from London, strained a hamstring.
explained: "I fell during my match with Tom Richards, and didn't think
much of it until I went back to the hotel after the match where I had trouble
breathing. I took pain killers in the morning with no improvement, and tried to
have a light hit, which was a real struggle. The injury is on the left side of
my rib cage, and I don't want to risk making it worse or increasing the period
equally downhearted: "I'm really gutted. I'm struggling today, and with the
World Open coming up next week, I really don't want to take any risks to pull my
But the day's
play finished in sensational style when Ashour beat France's No3 seed Gregory
Gaultier in a match described by PSA SquashTV commentator Joey Barrington
as one which 'produced the best squash of the tournament between two of the
sport's heavyweights. Ramy dominated all the way.'
2010 champion, dropped the opening game but thrilled the packed crowd with his
artistry as he went on to take the next two and march on to match ball in the
however, fell badly when going for a ball at the front of the court and after
receiving treatment on court hobbled of the court as the referee announced
Ashour as the winner.
11-8, 11-8, 10-3 (ret.) victory in 69 minutes takes the world No4 through to a
semi-final clash with England's Nick Matthew, the world No2 who took his
place in the last four after Shabana's withdrawal.
In the earlier
quarter-final, a commanding performance from world number one James Willstrop
saw the defending champion from England beat unseeded Spaniard Borja Golan
11-7, 11-7, 11-4 in 57 minutes.
now face Egyptian rival Karim Darwish, the beneficiary of Barker's
Maiden World Series Quarter-Final In Hong Kong
years after making his first appearance in the main draw of a PSA World
Series event, Spaniard Borja Golan has made his long-awaited
breakthrough into the quarter-finals of one of the PSA Tour's elite
championships after upsetting Egypt's No8 seed Mohamed El Shorbagy in
today's second round of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong
Squash Open at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.
Golan's 33rd appearance in a World Series event since earning a place in the
2003 World Open in Pakistan - since when the 29-year-old from Santiago de
Compostela reached a career-high world No10 to become Spain's highest-ranked
player of all-time.
But he also
suffered a career-threatening knee injury in 2009 - resulting in a lengthy
layoff which saw him plummet out of the world top 100.
And today, now
just eight places away from his best-ever ranking, Golan stunned eighth seed
Mohamed El Shorbagy - beating the world No7 from Egypt 11-6, 11-9, 8-11,
11-9 to become the only unseeded player in the last eight of the sixth PSA World
Series event of the year.
"When you play
someone like that you have to play more than 100% - you have to fight for each
point as if it was the last one," Golan said
will now line up against top seed James Willstrop after the world number
one from England stopped veteran Hong Kong Open campaigner Ong Beng Hee,
the 32-year-old Malaysian who made his debut in the event in the 2000
championship, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 in 68 minutes.
Beng Hee stole
the hearts of the Centre Court crowd with a skilful and spirited performance
that earned him a standing ovation at the end.
one of three Englishmen who will be in quarter-final action tomorrow. Peter
Barker, the No6 seed from London, fought back from 6-10 down in the first
game to beat top-ranked Australian Cameron Pilley 13-11, 11-8, 11-8 in 65
In the final
match of the day - which for the second day in the championship finished well
after midnight - second-seeded Englishman Nick Matthew saw off South
African Stephen Coppinger 11-6, 11-6, 11-8.
world No2 from Sheffield, will now face Egyptian maestro Amr Shabana, the
four-time world champion who is celebrating a record 16th successive appearance
in the Hong Kong Open.
But at 0/2
down to unseeded Englishman Tom Richards, it looked as if the 33-year-old
from Cairo's bid for a sixth title might be over. But the seventh seed showed
why he is still one of the most admired and gifted players when he fought back
to take the next three games - and record a sensational 10-12, 10-12, 11-7,
11-7, 11-7 victory in 70 minutes to keep his title hopes alive.
match of the tournament by miles!" tweeted England's Daryl Selby later.
"What a game @TomRichards86 played, and great comeback by the ever classy
It was an
upbeat comment which contrasted the world number ten's earlier Twitter
pronouncement: "To say I'm disappointed is an understatement..."
issued this comment shortly after extending fourth seed Karim Darwish for
65 minutes in a match which ultimately saw the Egyptian prevail 6-11, 11-4,
"One of my
most disappointing days on a squash court today," Selby continued. "Had so much
to play for and didn't quite play well enough but still could have won."
champion Ramy Ashour became Egypt's third winner of the day when he beat
Indian number one Saurav Ghosal 11-7, 11-5, 10-12, 12-10 in 61 minutes.
"Lost a really
close 3-1 to Ramy today...12-10 in the 4th!" tweeted world No22 Ghosal later.
"Had game balls in the last game as well...good performance though :)"
kept French hopes for success alive when he defeated Swiss number one Nicolas
Mueller 11-4, 11-5, 11-5. The third seed from Aix-en-Provence, bidding the
reach the final for the fifth time, but win it for the first, now faces Ashour
in the pair's 20th Tour clash since December 2005.
champion Amr Shabana began his quest for a sixth Cathay Pacific Sun
Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open today at the Hong Kong Squash
Centre by beating French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet in straight
games to provide the perfect celebration of his 40th match in the event since
his debut in 1996.
world number one from Egypt created a record as soon as he stepped onto the
court for his first round match in the sixth PSA World Series event of
the year - by making his 16th successive appearance in the popular and
long-established Tour event.
seed - winner of the title five years in a row from 2005 - despatched Castagnet
11-9, 11-7, 11-7 in 35 minutes and will now line up against England's Tom
Richards in a bid to reach the quarter-finals for the ninth year in a row.
been coming here for 16 years," the 33-year-old from Cairo added
"That was the easiest record to establish ever!"
Richards defeated experienced Finn Olli Tuominen 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 11-2 -
and will be meeting Shabana for the first time, eager to make his first ever
appearance in the event's last eight!
Indian Saurav Ghosal ended home interest in the event after overcoming
Hong Kong qualifier Max Lee 11-3, 11-5, 11-4. The UK-based world No22
will now face Egyptian star Ramy Ashour, ranked four in the world.
first appearance in the championship since injury prevented him from defending
his 2010 title, 25-year-old fifth seed Ashour ousted fellow countryman Tarek
Momen 11-7, 11-8, 11-2 in just 29 minutes, the quickest match of the day.
The only upset
came when South African Stephen Coppinger, given a last-minute place in
the main draw after the withdrawal of Dutchman Laurens Jan Anjema,
battled back from a game down to beat Egypt's world No11 Omar Mosaad
8-11, 14-12, 11-8, 11-9 in 69 minutes.
Town-based world No24 will now take on England's world No2 Nick Matthew.
The second seed from Sheffield began his bid to reach the final for the first
time since 2004 by beating German number one Simon Rosner 12-10, 12-10,
11-6 in 49 minutes.
1st Round Top Half
Walker Marathon In Hong Kong
and Alister Walker, two of the closest-ranked players battling against
each other in today's first round of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai
Financial Hong Kong Open, duly produced the longest match on day one of the
sixth PSA World Series squash event of the year to entertain a packed
crowd at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.
Selby, the world No10 and highest-ranked unseeded player in the draw, dropped
the first game to former England team-mate Walker, the world No12 who now
represents Botswana, the country of his birth.
turned things round to open up a 2/1 lead before Walker fought back to draw
level. And in the dramatic decider, it was the higher-ranked Englishman who
ultimately prevailed, winning 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8 in 95 minutes.
in Hong Kong first round against my good friend @alisterWALKER," tweeted
30-year-old Selby later. "Proper battle and lucky to win it in the end.
match made a significant impact on the drawn out schedule of the day - which
eventually came to a close after 12.30am when the fourth match lasting more than
an hour finished, Malaysian Ong Beng Hee earning a 9-11, 11-5, 11-9,
8-11, 11-5 victory in 75 minutes over Colombian Miguel Angel Rodriguez.
The win sees
Beng Hee, the 32-year-old former world No7 from Penang who made his debut in the
event 12 years ago, secure a place in the second round for the first time in
Selby led a
trio of Englishmen through to the last 16 round. Fellow Essex man Peter
Barker, the sixth seed, had to fight back from a game down to overcome
Egyptian qualifier Karim Abdel Gawad 7-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6.
defending champion James Willstrop, the world number one from Leeds, also
had to recover from the loss of the first game before seeing off England
team-mate Adrian Grant 5-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 in 73 minutes.
number one Cameron Pilley was taken the full distance by qualifier
Chris Simpson before beating the Englishman 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 5-11, 11-8
after 82 minutes.
fellow first round winners, the world No17 from New South Wales will relish the
day's break before having to face Barker for a place in the quarter-finals.
finals: Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt Martin Knight (NZL) 11-6, 11-4, 8-11,
11-3 (60m) Max Lee (HKG) bt Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-6, 11-2, 11-8 (33m) Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Mohd Ali Anwar Reda (EGY) 11-9, 11-8,
10-12, 11-9 (67m) Joe Lee (ENG) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 11-9, 11-8, 3-11, 11-4 (62m) Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Shawn Delierre (CAN) 10-12, 11-5, 4-11,
11-6, 11-2 (48m) Chris Simpson (ENG) bt Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 11-5, 11-8,
12-14, 13-11 (76m) Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-6, 11-4, 11-4
(39m) Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Marwan El Shorbagy (EGY) 7-11, 3-11, 11-7,
11-9, 11-7 (55m)
A trio of
Englishmen boosted the UK entries in the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai
Financial Hong Kong Open to nine after Joe Lee, Chris Simpson
and Adrian Waller survived today's qualifying finals of the PSA World
Series squash event in its 27th year at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.
from 0/2 and 3-7 down to overcome Egypt's world No27 Marwan El Shorbagy -
the highest-ranked player in the qualifiers - 7-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7 in 55
The world No43
from Enfield will make his maiden appearance in the first round of the popular
and prestigious Tour event against Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller.
Lee became the
lowest-ranked player to qualify when he beat top-ranked Scot Alan Clyne
11-9, 11-8, 3-11, 11-4 in 62 minutes. The London-born 23-year-old will face
Spanish No1 Borja Golan.
previous attempts to qualify, Chris Simpson will make his main draw debut
after defeating Malaysian Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan 11-5, 11-8, 12-14, 13-11
in 76 minutes - and now faces the number one Australian Cameron Pilley.
produced the most popular win when he beat Finland's Henrik Mustonen
11-6, 11-2, 11-8 to double Hong Kong interest in the main draw. The 24-year-old
world No32 progresses to face the Indian number one Saurav Ghosal.
Mathieu Castagnet and Gregoire Marche were also successful - and both
will try their hand in the main draw for the second year in a row. Castagnet
beat New Zealander Martin Knight 11-6, 11-4, 8-11, 11-3, while Marche saw
off Egypt's Mohd Ali Anwar Reda 11-9, 11-8, 10-12, 11-9.
reward is an all-French clash with third seed Gregory Gaultier, four
times a runner-up in the championship.
Karim Abdel Gawad and Australian Ryan Cuskelly secured the remaining
two qualifying slots in the first round.
Local Hopes In Hong Kong Open
will take domestic hopes into the qualifying finals of the Cathay Pacific Sun
Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open single-handedly after becoming the only
local player to survive the first qualifying round of the PSA World Series
squash event in it 27th edition at the Hong Kong Squash Centre today.
24-year-old, bidding to make his third appearance in the main draw since 2007,
beat 17-year-old compatriot Henry Leung 11-6, 11-5, 11-6.
Lee, ranked 32
in the world, will now face Henrik Mustonen after the Finn, ranked 21
places lower, beat Hungary's Mark Krajcsak 11-5, 11-8, 11-9.
will also seek a qualifying slot after surviving his first round match.
Englishman Joe Lee defeated Hong Kong's Hon Fung Wong 11-3, 11-3,
11-2 and will join fellow countrymen Chris Simpson and Adrian Waller
in the qualifying finals.
Waller survived the longest battle, coming from a game down to see off
Malaysia's Ivan Yuen 9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 in 64 minutes.
sights on a sixth title, Egypt's Amr Shabana will set a new PSA World
Tour record for the number of appearances in a single event when he
celebrates his 16th successive year in the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai
Financial Hong Kong Squash Open, the sixth PSA World Series event of
2012 which gets underway at the Hong Kong Squash Centre today.
1985, the 27th edition of the world-famous event reaches its climax with
semi-finals and finals staged on a brand new all-glass show court erected at the
Cultural Centre on the waterfront at Tsim Sha Tsui.
four-time world champion from Cairo, made his Hong Kong Open debut in 1996 -
four years before any other player competing in this year's championship.
playing in Hong Kong since 96 - it was my first major to play after the Al-Ahram
Open and British Open earlier in the year," said 33-year-old Shabana, who joined
the PSA in 1995 and went on to top the world rankings for 33 consecutive months
from April 2006.
"For me it
is one of the best organised events in terms of how the organizers set it up,"
added the left-hander, currently ranked seven in the world. "I have always been
- and will always be - a player who, if physically fit, the better and bigger
the occasion the better I play."
his first title in Hong Kong in 2005, when the event was also the World Open,
and went on to retain the Hong Kong Open trophy for a further four years. The
distinguished Egyptian now boasts 29 Tour titles from 43 final appearances.
one of the greats of the game and we are lucky to still have him competing at
such a high level after being on the Tour for such a long time," said Alex
Gough, CEO of the Professional Squash Association. "He is many squash
fans' favourite and to see him do well again in Hong Kong again this year would
be fantastic for the game."
Hong Kong Open has been chosen as the inspection event for the International
Olympic Committee (IOC) to determine which of the shortlisted sports should
win a place on the programme for the 2020 Olympiad.
IOC come to Hong Kong will show them what a great squash experience it is
watching the world's best squash. Squash players are some of the strongest, if
not THE strongest, athletes in this world."
seven this week, Shabana opens his latest campaign in Hong Kong tomorrow
(Wednesday) against French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet - and is expected
to meet English rival Nick Matthew, the world number two, in the
Open 1st round draw:
 James Willstrop (ENG) v Adrian Grant (ENG) Ong Beng Hee (MAS) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) Borja Golan (ESP) v [Q] Joe Lee (ENG)
 Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
 Peter Barker (ENG) v [Q] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) Daryl Selby (ENG) v Alister Walker (BOT)
 Karim Darwish (EGY) v Leo Au (HKG)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) Saurav Ghosal (IND) v [Q] Max Lee (HKG)
 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Amr Shabana (EGY) v [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) Tom Richards (ENG) v Olli Tuominen (FIN) Omar Mosaad (EGY) v Stephen Coppinger (RSA)
 Nick Matthew (ENG) v Simon Rosner (GER)
when world-famous airline Cathay Pacific first sponsored the Hong Kong
Squash Open, the international event has regularly attracted the world's
very best players.
week's 27th edition of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong
Open - which will reach its climax with semi-finals and finals staged on an
all-glass show court erected at the Cultural Centre on the waterfront at
Tsim Sha Tsui - takes on additional significance as the event chosen by
the International Olympic Committee to judge the sport's credentials to
join the Olympic Games programme in 2020.
championship will be led by world number one James Willstrop, the
defending champion from England, and features 19 of the world's top 20,
including six former world number ones - while the women's field will be led by
Malaysian superstar Nicol David, the world number one since August 2006
who is expected to win the title for a record eighth time in a row since 2005.
"The Hong Kong
Open is an event that Squash cherishes and we are delighted that the IOC have
chosen to come to it to evaluate our sport," said World Squash Federation
President N Ramachandran. "It shows off so much of the essence of
professional squash and what we mean by the ability to showcase host cities.
forward to them seeing this for themselves, along with the strong international
broadcast output, first class sports presentation - and some great squash
title-holder James Willstrop is also pleased that the IOC chose Hong
Kong: "It's a wonderful backdrop for the IOC delegates to see - there are few
that could be more exciting and spectacular as this Hong Kong location. As a
player, when you're on the court and peer through the glass walls, it's a
unbelievable how far we've come as a sport in such a short time."
Egyptian Amr Shabana, the former world No1 and four-time world champion
who is making a record 16th appearance in the event and has his sights on a
sixth Hong Kong title, added: "Having the IOC come to Hong Kong will show them
what a great experience it is, watching the world's best squash. Squash players
are some of the strongest, if not THE strongest, athletes in this world."
the top-ranked Spaniard, said: "As a sport, squash is one of the most complete
ones: physically you need to have resistance, power, speed, balance and
reflexes. Mentally you have to be so focussed all the time - and we can compare
every match with a gladiator fight because only the strongest will win.
number one Cameron Pilley pointed out: "The Hong Kong Open is one of the
longest running and biggest events on Tour, not only for prize money but because
of the history behind it.
glass court down on the harbour is an amazing venue with a great backdrop."