Mohamed Abouelghar takes out James Willstrop in straight games
By SEAN REUTHE
World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy prevailed in an entertaining five-game affair with World No.28 Max Lee to send the local favourite out on day one of main draw action at the 2017 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, the third PSA World Series event of the 2017/18 season.
The Bristol-based Egyptian has been in spellbinding form this season, winning three of four tournaments, and was looking to improve on a disappointed second round exit at last year’s tournament.
Lee delighted the home fans in the 2016 edition as he reached a maiden World Series semi-final but he went down 11-7, 2-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 in 68 minutes to bow out in round one of the latest instalment of the long-running tournament.
“I think Max played well. It was always going to be difficult playing him on his home court,” said ElShorbagy.
“I felt a little flat mentally, but it was the perfect first round to sharpen me up. This is my fifth tournament in a row and I’ve played more matches than anyone else so far this season but these are the kinds of situations you want to be in, you want to challenge yourself and I was up to that challenge.
“I played a very good fifth game, it was a very tricky match and I used all of my experience.”
World No.13 Mohamed Abouelghar was in superb form to dispatch England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop, running the Yorkshireman ragged en route to claiming the win by an 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 margin.
“I’ve played against James three times and the first time [in Qatar] he wasn’t at his best because he had just returned from a hip injury, so I just got away with it,” said Abouelghar.
“I really admire his game and admire him as a player. I’ve learned a lot from him, I always watch him to learn and today I just had to execute my game plan and play with a slower pace because I know he controls the game very well. To beat James in three games is huge for me.”
Abouelghar will face recent Qatar Classic semi-finalist Simon Rösner in round two after the German overcame France’s Mathieu Castagnet, while ElShorbagy will take on French qualifier Lucas Serme after he upset former World No.3 Omar Mosaad.
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier is also through after coming out on top in an all-French affair with Gregoire Marche and he will take on New Zealand’s World No.9 Paul Coll for a place in the last eight after Coll beat Indian qualifier Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu. Marwan ElShorbagy and Greg Lobban were the other winners on day one and will go head-to-head in the next round.
In the women’s event, World No.1 Nour El Sherbini got her tournament under way with a win over fellow Egyptian Nada Abbas, beating the 17-year-old 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 in just 16 minutes to set up a second round fixture with Australia’s Donna Urquhart.
“I’m really pleased, a 16-minute match is really short,” said El Sherbini.
“Nada is one of the youngest players, she’s very good and on the way up. I was trying to kill everything quickly and play my game instead of hers.
“It will be a tough match against Donna, I’ve not played her in a long time and I’m just looking forward to it and it’s going to be a tough one.”
El Sherbini will be joined in the next round by defending champion Nouran Gohar after she saw off tournament wildcard Liu Tsz-Ling in straight games.
A win for World No.4 Laura Massaro over Egyptian qualifier Hania El Hamammy means that she is through to the last 16 to face Olivia Blatchford, while there were also wins for Alison Waters, Joshna Chinappa and Tesni Evans.
“One of my first coaches said to me when I was Hania’s age that the first time you play a top pro on the Tour, you can sometimes take them by surprise and a true reflection of your level is how well you do the second time,” said Massaro, who won over five games when the two played in the first round of last year’s event.
“These youngsters can catch you out and play well and they deserve it, but then you get the full respect and full attention of the player for the second time and I think that’s what Hania got today. She deserves my respect because of how well she played last time.”
First round action from the Hong Kong Open continues tomorrow (November 15th) and selected fixtures will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open 2017, Hong Kong Park Sports Centre, Hong Kong China.
Men’s First Round (Top Half):
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-9 (39m)
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [Q] Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND) 3-1: 9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-1 (44m)
[Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 (58m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (38m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 (38m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-4, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8 (51m)
[Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5 (77m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 11-7, 2-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 (68m)
First Round (Bottom Half) To Be Played November 15:
[Q] Tom Richards (ENG) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
[WC] Leo Au (HKG) v Ramy Ashour (HKG)
[Q] Declan James (ENG) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
[Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Alan Clyne (SCO) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
[Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Men’s Second Round (Top Half) To Be Played November 16:
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Paul Coll (NZL)
[Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Simon Rösner (GER)
[Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s First Round (Top Half):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 (16m)
Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt  Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-0: 11-1, 11-5, 11-9 (22m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [Q] Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-2: 11-5, 8-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6 (46m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [WC] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-8, 11-6 (21m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-6 (28m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [Q] Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-4 (29m)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) v Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 (29m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (34m)
Women’s First Round (Bottom Half) To Be Played November 15:
 Camille Serme (FRA) v [Q] Rachel Arnold (MAS)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Emily Whitlock (ENG)
 Annie Au (HKG) v [Q] Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG)
[Q] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) v  Nicol David (MAS)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v Coline Aumard (FRA)
[Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)
Fiona Moverley (ENG) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half) To Be Played November 16:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of PSA