Little Leo rocks reigning champion Ramy as Declan James decks Saurav Ghosal
By SEAN REUTHE
Tournament wildcard Leo Au caused one of the biggest ever shocks to have graced the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open after the Hong Kong No.1 sent defending champion Ramy Ashour crashing out on day two of the PSA World Series event held at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.
Illness had put Ashour out of action since winning September’s J.P Morgan China Open and the three-time World Champion struggled to break down a tenacious Au who, buoyed by his home crowd, recovered from a one-game deficit to go 2-1 up but the World No.26 surrendered a match ball to send the match into a decider.
Ashour fought back from 4-0 down to level in the fifth game but he quickly began to fatigue and Au took full advantage, playing some sublime squash as he racked up seven points on the bounce to claim the biggest win of his career.
“I feel amazing because I didn’t expect much before the match,” said Au, who will compete in the second round of the Hong Kong Open for the first time.
“When I lost that match ball, I thought I had lost the match. I thought that he would be more focused in the fifth game and there would be more pressure on me. It was a mistake to lose that match point, but I’m happy to win in front of my home crowd because this is my first time getting to the second round.”
Au will face the in-form Ali Farag for a place in the quarter-finals after the U.S. Open champion defeated English qualifier Tom Richards by a 3-1 margin.
“I’m delighted, it’s not easy to be the last one on against Tom on a court like this, it suits his game plan quite well,” said Farag.
“Leo will be playing in front of his home crowd, he seems to be going up the gears. I’m sure it’s going to be very tough and I’m looking forward to it.”
Elsewhere in the draw, World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad dispatched Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in four games, while Australia’s Cameron Pilley beat German qualifier Raphael Kandra to ensure that he will face the 2016 runner-up in the next round.
England’s Declan James upset Saurav Ghosal to reach the second round of a World Series event for the first time and he will take on World No.8 Fares Dessouky next. World No.7 Tarek Momen and 2016 semi-finalist Ryan Cuskelly will also line up in another of the quarter-final fixtures after they beat Alan Clyne and Adrian Waller, respectively.
The female Hong Kong No.1, Annie Au, followed in brother Leo’s footsteps as she also advanced to round two, beating compatriot Tong Tsz-Wing by an 13-11, 11-9, 11-3 scoreline.
“I was really pleased to win the first two games because they were really close,” said Annie. “I think Tong played really well today and I wasn’t really in the moment for the first two games because I wasn’t moving very well. In the third game, I managed to come back and was more attacking.
“I tried to volley as much as I could [in the third game] to put her under more pressure and it worked well.”
Annie ended an eight-year, 16-match losing streak against 10-time Hong Kong Open champion Nicol David during last month’s U.S. Open and she will face the legendary Malaysian once more after David overcame Canadian qualifier Danielle Letourneau 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3.
David eased to comfortable victories in the opening two games but World No.45 Letourneau proved to be a dogged competitor as she fought back to take the third. From there, it was all World No.6 David though as she closed out the win to make it through to the last 16.
“It’s great to be back here, Hong Kong is a special place for me, there are a lot of memorable moments here, I won my first World Championship title here and there’s a great vibe,” David said.
“There are a lot of familiar faces and good memories here, so I always come in with a good buzz when I step on the glass court.
“So many matches have been played here and I always have fond memories of this tournament.”
World No.2 Raneem El Welily and World No.8 Nour El Tayeb will face off in a repeat of the U.S. Open final after they beat Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Fiona Moverley, respectively, while World No.19 Joey Chan upset World No.12 Emily Whitlock to join the Au siblings in representing Hong Kong in the next round.
World No.3 Camille Serme awaits Chan after she cruised to victory against Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold, while World No.9 Joelle King and World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry also claimed wins on day two.
The second round of the Hong Kong Open begins tomorrow (November 16th) 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 (Bottom Half):
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 11-2, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7 (31m)
[WC] Leo Au (HKG) bt Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4 (74m)
[Q] Declan James (ENG) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (49m)
 Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (28m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 11-2, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 (43m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (47m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (36m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (44m)
Men’s Second Round (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)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v [WC] Leo Au (HKG)
[Q] Declan James (ENG) v  Fares Dessouky (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
Women’s First Round (Bottom Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-1, 11-0, 11-3 (19m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt  Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-2, 11-9 (34m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) 3-0: 13-11, 11-9, 11-3 (29m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-1: 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3 (30m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-1: 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 12-10 (52m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-1, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4 (49m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 (17m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 14-12, 14-12 (35m)
Women’s Second Round (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)
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Joey Chan (HKG)
 Annie Au (HKG) v  Nicol David (MAS)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA