Ashour To Contest Hong Kong Open Final
is one step away from regaining his world number one ranking after beating
fellow Egyptian Karim Darwish in the semi-finals of the Cathay Pacific
Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.
22-year-old from Cairo will have to beat French rival Gregory Gaultier in
tomorrow's final of the $147,500 PSA World Tour squash event, the fifth
PSA Super Series championship of the year, in order to reclaim the pole
position he lost to England's Nick Matthew in June.
Gaultier reached the final for the fourth year in a row after beating England's
Peter Barker 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 in 49 minutes. It was the eighth seed from
London who dashed England team-mate Matthew's hopes of a sixth successive Tour
title in Friday's quarter-finals - in his first ever victory over England's
first world number one for six years.
also topped the world rankings briefly before plummeting to No6 in just four
months, is celebrating his 39th PSA Tour final - and will be hoping to
make up for finishing as runner-up for the past three years.
the first game of his semi-final, No2 seed Ramy Ashour only managed a
single point in the second as Karim Darwish looked set to repeat his
shock win over the Egyptian number one in May's Sky Open in the pair's
home town of Cairo.
desperate to win his first Super Series title of the year, regained control
before closing out his 11-5, 1-11, 11-9, 11-7 win after 51 minutes.
"It's great to
be back in the final," Ashour, runner-up in 2006, said afterwards. "I was very
tense, very tense, but my brother (Hisham) gave me some great advice - sometimes
he gives me too much, too fast, but I remember it!
played so well today, hitting so many nicks, I had to keep pushing myself,"
added the exuberant world No2, now in his 27th Tour final.
"I had too
much energy, it overwhelmed me, I just had to push myself, push myself to
Champion & World No1 Both Exit In Hong Kong
It was a bad
day for favourites in the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong
Open when both Nick Matthew, the world number one and
top seed, and Amr Shabana, the title-holder, crashed out of the $147,500
PSA World Tour squash event, the fifth PSA Super Series
championship of the year.
in-form Englishman who arrived in Hong Kong fresh from winning five titles in a
row on the PSA Tour, faced England team-mate Peter Barker, the
London left-hander who had lost their previous eight encounters.
dropping the first game, Barker raised his game to new heights to come storming
back to win the next three and claim a career-best 3-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5
victory. It was Barker's first match of the tournament on the Hong Kong Squash
Centre's popular three-sided-glass-walled court - though Matthew was enjoying
"He's had a
couple of matches on this court already, while this is my first. It took me a
while to get used to it," explained the eighth seed later. "I tried to keep
telling myself to believe, to break it down, and towards the end to get one more
point, one more point.
"I'm very good
friends with Nick off court - you never like to see your friends lose even you
play them - but I've been on the receiving end of a few beatings from Nick for a
long time, so maybe today it was my turn.
special to beat the world number one, so I'm really pleased, obviously. The
tournament's not over, but it's been a good week so far," added Barker, now in
his first Super Series semi-final of the year after ending Matthew's 25-match
unbeaten Tour run.
highlighted an injury which caused him to take a three-minute break during the
final game: "We had a collision at the start of the second game. It was
accidental, but the pain in my ankle was really severe. I've had ligament damage
there so often I don't think I have any ligaments left!
"I carried on,
but as the match went on I didn't have any strength in my left leg and it got
more and more painful. But I wasn't going to shake hands - I'll always carry on
to the end.
"It's tough to
take, losing after six months, especially when it's partly because your body
lets you down. He may have beaten me anyway, who knows, but it's still tough to
great mate, I wish him well for the rest of the tournament."
The match that
followed also saw fortunes reversed: In this case Gregory Gaultier had
come away empty-handed in the previous three Hong Kong Open finals as
Amr Shabana, the reigning world champion from Egypt, built up a sequence of
five successive titles at the event from 2005.
But it was
Gaultier's day today as the Frenchman delighted the crowd with a dazzling
display of squash to end the Egyptian's 27-match-winning-run in Hong Kong,
beating Shabana 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8 in 50 minutes.
Was it fourth
time lucky, Gaultier was asked afterwards? "I don't think you can win matches
like that with luck," said the 27-year-old from Aix-en-Provence. "But he's
beaten me a lot of times so it's good to beat him here in Hong Kong at last,
"He went for
so many shots, and only at the end of the first did he really make any errors.
I'd work hard to win a point and then he would win the next in two seconds. I
tried to control the pace, but he changed it so well.
"We know each
other so well and have such respect for each other that it's difficult to play
each other. We know it's going to be fair."
shock departure leaves the door open for rival Ramy Ashour to reclaim the
world number one ranking - but only if the Egyptian wins the title in Hong Kong!
The 22-year-old No2 seed from Cairo certainly exhibited the credentials to
achieve this as he despatched Matthew's England team-mate James Willstrop
11-5, 11-8, 11-9 in the last match of the day.
"It was a fast
pace for both of us," said Ashour afterwards. "I went a bit too fast in the
first, but he was a little bit backed up. He started getting better towards the
end of that game and came out fighting in the second and I had to work hard to
"The third was
very even, I just had to keep my focus, just keep playing and be as consistent
as I could. You just do what you can do and see if you've won at the end.
"I've got no
thoughts about getting back to number one. Yes it would be great, but my aim is
just to do the maximum, even if I'd lost today but played to the maximum I
wouldn't have been upset about it.
now face compatriot Karim Darwish, the fourth seed who denied Thierry
Lincou a second Hong Kong Open title by beating the 34-year-old
Frenchman 11-9, 11-3, 11-9.
Battles Into Hong Kong Quarters
number one Karim Darwish claimed his anticipated place in the
quarter-finals of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open
- but the fourth-seeded Egyptian was taken the full distance before overcoming
Cameron Pilley in the second round of the $147,500 PSA
World Tour squash event, the fifth PSA Super Series championship of
the year, in Hong Kong.
into the match boasting a 7/0 career head-to-head record over the tall
Australian - but soon found himself 2/1 down as 16th seed Pilley imposed himself
on the match.
27-year-old from New South Wales led 7-4 in the fourth - but Darwish called upon
all his experience to recover the deficit before going on to claim a dramatic
11-5, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6 victory after 68 minutes.
Cairo-based 28-year-old who spent most of last year topping the world rankings,
will now face French rival Thierry Lincou, also a former world No1, for a
place in the semi-finals.
seventh seed, celebrated his 20th PSA Tour meeting with David Palmer
since their first in 1999 by beating the 10th seed from Australia 11-7, 4-11,
11-7, 11-9 in 69 minutes - and edging ahead 11/9 in the pair's head-to-head
match of the day was an all-English clash between favourite Nick Matthew,
the world number one hoping to notch up his sixth Tour title in a row in Hong
Kong, and Daryl Selby, the ninth seed who made up for disappointment of a
shock first round exit in the recent Australian Open by overcoming
top-ranked Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar in the opening round.
team-mates know each others' games inside out - and Matthew was relentless in
the pursuit of his 11-7, 12-10, 11-8 win.
improved a lot and he's looking for scalps of the top players - so I knew it
would be tough," the 30-year-old from Sheffield explained
later. "When I got the balance between attack and defence wrong, I had problems.
I thought I could have finished a couple of the games off a little better, but
that's credit to him for making it tough."
disappointed to lose: "I thought if I could have taken that second I might have
put myself in a position to win, but Nick just played the big points at the end
of the games better, whereas that's what I did against Azlan yesterday.
"But I'm happy
that I played well yesterday and today, after my poor result in Australia, it's
good to get the season started."
the Pakistan qualifier who lined up against fifth seed Gregory Gaultier
today after causing the only upset on day one, went down in straight games to
the 27-year-old Frenchman, losing 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 in 43 minutes.
Grant In Hong Kong Upset
Farhan Mehboob single-handedly carried Pakistani hopes through to the second
round of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open after
upsetting England's 13th seed Adrian Grant in the first round of the
$147,500 PSA World Tour squash event - the fifth PSA Super Series
championship of the year - in Hong Kong.
21-year-old from Peshawar went into the match 3/0 down on his career record
against fellow left-hander Grant - but powered through to an 11-9, 13-11, 11-9
victory over the 29-year-old Londoner ranked 15 in the world.
prepared for it," the delighted winner said later. "We played in Saudi last
year, he won 3/1 but it was a very good game, I knew I had to focus and play
well on each point this time.
"He played too
much attacking for me in the second, but I still managed to win that one, and I
played my best squash in the third."
world No30 celebrating his first time in the last 16 of a 2010 Super Series
event, will now face Gregory Gaultier, the fifth seed from France who
beat Australian qualifier Ryan Cuskelly 11-8, 11-3, 11-6.
"It's great to
reach the second round, having had to qualify," added Mehboob. "I'm really
looking forward to playing Greg now."
defending champion Amr Shabana notched up his 26th successive win in the
championship after beating Saurav Ghosal - but the third seed, looking
for his sixth title in a row, was taken the full distance by the unseeded Indian
before winning 14-12, 3-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-3 in 53 minutes.
it's about, a win's a win," said the relieved 31-year-old from Cairo after
dominating the decider. "He stepped up and kept in front of me in the second, he
had a game plan and stuck to it. I lost my way in the fourth, and the fifth is
always anyone's, you just hope to get a few points ahead at the start and hang
on to it.
"I managed to
do that, and he lost his way a bit at the end."
With the top
four matches in the draw going according to the seeding, England is already
assured of interest in Saturday's semi-finals. Nick Matthew, the world
number one from Sheffield seeded to win his sixth Tour title in a row in Hong
Kong, brushed aside Italian qualifier Amr Swelim 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 - and
will now face England team-mate Daryl Selby, the ninth seed who made up
for a shock Australian Open first round exit two weeks ago, by overcoming
Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar 11-8, 11-6, 11-9.
England team-mates will face-off to play Matthew or Selby: Londoner Peter
Barker, the No8 seed, beat US No1 Julian Illingworth, a qualifier,
11-4, 11-8, 11-3, while 15th seed Alister Walker took four games to
despatch Egyptian Hisham Mohd Ashour 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6.
Lucky For Abbas In Hong Kong
to qualify for the previous two PSA Super Series events, Egypt's former
world No13 Mohammed Abbas made it third time lucky when he despatched
higher-ranked compatriot Omar Abdel Aziz in the qualifying finals of the
$147,500 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open to
earn a place in the main draw of the fifth PSA Super Series championship of the
year in Hong Kong.
of his form before a long layoff with a foot injury, 29-year-old Abbas raced
through the quickest match of the day to beat Aziz, the current world No34,
11-7, 11-2, 11-4 in 32 minutes.
experienced Abbas, currently ranked 54 in the world, will now face a second
fellow countryman Ramy Ashour, the second seed, in the first round.
pulled off a further unexpected qualifying finals win to boost the Egyptian main
draw quota to nine! The 19-year-old from Cairo, ranked 63 in the world, battled
for 86 minutes to overcome rising Swiss star Nicolas Mueller, the world
No37 who was celebrating his 21st birthday, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-9.
"He beat me
twice before, with bad scorelines for me - so I've been hoping to play him again
for a while now, so that I could see how I've improved," Gawad said afterwards.
"He's very tough, very talented, so I'm very happy to see I've improved and get
through to the main draw."
youngest player in the first round, Gawad will mark only his second appearance
in a Super Series event this year when he takes on fellow countryman Wael El
Hindi, the 11th seed.
Aaron Frankcomb denied the hosts a qualifier in the main draw when he beat
Max Lee. But the 22-year-old, looking for his first appearance in the
main draw of his country's most prestigious squash tournament for three years,
took Frankcomb the full distance, keeping him on court for 93 minutes before the
25-year-old Tasmanian recorded his 11-4, 5-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8 victory.
"I lost to him
in the first round here last year, so it's pleasing to get that win under my
belt," said Frankcomb. "The crowd were pretty fair, more on his side obviously,
but clapping both of us when we played good shots."
Clyne Clambers Into Hong Kong Qualifying Finals
Scotland's Alan Clyne survived the longest battle in the
first qualifying round of the $147,500 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung
Kai Financial Hong Kong Open to earn a place in the
qualifying finals of the long-established PSA World Tour
squash event - the fifth PSA Super Series championship of the
year - in Hong Kong.
The 24-year-old from Edinburgh took a two-game lead against
Matthew Karwalski - but the lower-ranked Australian, also 24,
recovered the deficit to draw level. It was nip and tuck throughout
the decider but Clyne ultimately clinched his 11-9, 11-7, 8-11,
9-11, 13-11 victory after 72 minutes.
"I was hoping to win it 3/0 - I
was 8/6 up in the third, but then I was 8/3 down in the fifth,"
Clyne explained afterwards. "It was a bit of a yoyo match, all the games were close, it
was a question of trying to knuckle down at the important moments.
"He stepped up the pace in the third and fourth, putting me under
more pressure, and in the fifth I was having to go to last resort
tactics, just picking everything up!"
The world No57, bidding to make his first appearance in a Super
Series event since competing in the first of the year at the
Tournament of Champions in New York, will now face Farhan
Mehboob, the Pakistan number two.
Mehboob, a left-hander from Peshawar who is ranked 30 in the world,
took four games to overcome local hope Hon Fung Wong 11-2,
7-11, 11-9, 11-6.
Egypt's Omar Abdel Aziz, the second highest-ranked player in
the qualifying competition, was also taken the full distance before
reserving his place in the final round. The 26-year-old world No30
from Cairo withstood a fightback by USA's Christopher Gordon
before beating the 24-year-old from New York 11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 9-11,
Aziz now faces experienced compatriot Mohammed Abbas for a
place in the main draw. Abbas, a former world No13 bidding to make
only his second appearance in a 2010 Super Series event, took just
19 minutes to down Hong Kong 17-year-old Cheuk Yan Tang 11-4,
Qualifying finals line-up:
Tom Richards (ENG) v Muhd Asyraf Azan (MAS)
Aaron Frankcomb (AUS) v Max Lee (HKG)
Julian Illingworth (USA) v Mohd Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v Amr Swelim (ITA)
Farhan Mehboob (PAK) v Alan Clyne (SCO)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v Siddharth Suchde (IND)
Omar Abdel Aziz (EGY) v Mohammed Abbas (EGY)
Amr Shabana & Nicol David Aim For High Fives In Hong Kong
and Nicol David will be gunning for their fifth successive
titles at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong
Squash Open when the world’s top players return for one of the
biggest annual sporting events in Hong Kong from 23-29 August.
David, the world number one from Malaysia, is seeded to claim a
record fifth women's title in the $74,000 Women’s International
Squash Players' Association (WISPA) Gold event - while Shabana,
the third seed from Egypt, will be hoping to equal the record five
titles in a row won by legendary Pakistani Jansher Khan from
1987 to 1991 in the $147,500 PSA World Tour championship, the
fifth PSA Super Series event of the year.
early round matches will take place at Hong Kong Squash Centre
in Admiralty before the tournament moves across the harbour to
Diamond Hill in Kowloon for the semi-finals and finals,
which will be held in a specially erected, state-of-the-art,
all-glass court at Plaza Hollywood. Players will be given a
brand new experience of playing in front of the big crowds that
visit the shopping mall - one of the busiest in Hong Kong.
England's new world number one Nick Matthew, who was forced
to withdraw from the 2009 event with an ankle injury, is top
seed in the men's event. Runner-up in 2004, the 29-year-old from
Sheffield faces a qualifier in the opening round before a predicted
semi-final confrontation with title-holder Shabana.
David opens her 2010 campaign against England's Sarah Kippax
and is expected to face English rival Jenny Duncalf, the
world No2, in the women's final.
Speaking after the draws were made, Hong Kong Squash Chairman
David Mui said: "Special thanks to our joint-title sponsors
Cathay Pacific Airways and Sun Hung Kai Financial, whose support has
contributed greatly to our success. I would also like to thank our
co-sponsors: Crocodile, Prince, Perrier, Fujifilm, Buler Swiss
Watch, Lotus Tours and Plaza Hollywood.
delighted that we attracted all the world best players including our
local players, Annie Au, Rebecca Chiu, Joey Chan, Dick Lau and Max
Lee, who will, I am sure, have the full support of the home crowd."