Mohamed Elshorbagy and Laura Massaro both hit number one spot after Hong Kong wins
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hong Kong
A momentous night of semi-final action at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open saw all four victors celebrate momentous moments in their careers ahead of tomorrow’s (Dec 6) finals.
In the women’s draw, the in-form Laura Massaro extended her recent wining streak on the PSA World Tour to 14 matches after a stunning display saw her defeat World No.1 Raneem El Welily and move into a third consecutive PSA World Series tournament final. She will be hoping to add to the Delaware Investments U.S. Open and Qatar Classic crowns she has already collected so far during the 2015-16 season.
In the men’s event, Australian Cam Pilley powered past England’s Nick Matthew to reach the final against Egypt’s world No.2 Mohamed Elshorbagy.
Massaro’s victory, which she wrapped up in comprehensive fashion after just 33 minutes, was even sweeter for the 32-year-old as it ensures she will now top the world rankings for the first time in her career come January 1st.
“I’m really, really happy to be in another World Series final,” said Massaro. “I’ve never made it to the final at this tournament so I’m excited for tomorrow.
“I felt like I was in a good place before the match today and I knew how important it was to get off to a strong start and that’s exactly what I did. I was very pleased but I can’t get too excited with the win because there’s still another match to go and a job to do.”
On hearing the news that she will become World No.1 in January Massaro (right) added: “The World No.1 has been a huge mountain that I’ve been climbing and it’s certainly come as a great early Christmas present.
“It means everything to me. I trained hard over the summer after taking a break and the focus was all about competing and challenging for major titles. It’s gone better than I could have expected, winning three titles already, and I knew that if I could hit my goals of winning titles then the rankings would take care of itself.”
Massaro will face defending champion Nicol David in the decider as the Malaysian went one step closer to winning an unprecedented 10th consecutive Hong Kong Open crown by ruthlessly dispatching Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy in just 24 minutes – securing a place in what will be the 100th PSA World Tour final of her career in the process.
“It’s a real feat for any player to beat someone like Omneya 3-0 so that is a great result for me,” said David.
“I feel like I played well today and kept my focus right through to the end. I have a good record here but that’s not in my mind. Hong Kong is like a second home to me but I’m just happy to be playing well and enjoying my squash.
“Laura and I always have big battles and good matches. The last few have been very close, so hopefully tomorrow will be another good match.”
In the men’s draw defending champion Mohamed Elshorbagy emulated the feat of Massaro by defeating compatriot Omar Mosaad to regain his place as the World No.1 in the process.
Elshorbagy fell to a disappointing third round exit at the World Championships last week, where Mosaad finished runner-up, which cost him his place as World No.1 after a 13-month streak but he played with composure and precision to halt Mosaad’s charge and return to the summit of the World Rankings.
“I’ve been really happy with how I have played this whole week,” said Elshorbagy. “Last year after losing the World Championship final I reacted badly but this year it has been very different – I was very quiet after that loss last week, which is unusual for me as I’m an emotional person, but I just kept my head down and focused on what I need to do here.
“I hadn’t been enjoying my squash this season. I felt like I was being forced on court with the pressure but this week I feel like I want to be on court again and I’m enjoying every shot and that’s the most important thing for me.
“I came here to do two jobs; reclaim the World No.1 spot and retain the title. One down and hopefully I will do the other tomorrow. I’m relaxed, I’m sleeping well and I can’t wait to play one more major final and do what I can to end the year on a high.”
Elshorbagy will face unexpected finalist Cameron Pilley (right) in the title decider after the hard-hitting Australian picked up from where he left off in his quarter-final victory over World No.1 Gregory Gaultier to defeat World No.3 Nick Matthew in just under an hour to reach his first ever World Series Final.
A phenomenal fightback in the second game, when he surged from 10-5 down to force a tiebreak which he took 12-10 courtesy of some thunderous winners, epitomised a career-defining performance for the 33-year-old.
“But I guess I just played that little bit better today. Looking back on the match that second game was a big moment. The difference from 1-1 and 2-0 is huge so it was maybe a turning point, but it was just a case of not giving up.
“You get times when you hit a purple patch and are in the zone and this week seems to be going that way for me.
“It’s the biggest tournament of my career. I’m really enjoying being out there and playing the way I want to play. I’ve cleared my mind a bit over the last few weeks and it’s really paid off but I’m trying not to get too excited.
“In a few weeks when I look back on it I’m sure it will be great achievement but at the moment I’m not getting ahead of myself – there’s another match to go and my focus is on that.”
2015 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open (PSA World Series).
Results – Men’s Semi-finals:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt  Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-6, 11-9 (39m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt  Nick Matthew (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 13-11, 12-10 (59m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Results – Women’s Semi-finals:
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt  Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (33m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 (24m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Nicol David (MAS)
Pictures courtesy of PSA