Hong Kong heroics make David and Pilley the PSA players of the month
By SEAN REUTHE
Eight-time World Champion Nicol David and new World No.13 Cameron Pilley have been named as PSA World Tour Players of the Month for December after they both produced outstanding displays at the last PSA World Series tournament of the year – the 2015 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.
David entered the tournament as reigning champion having won the event on nine consecutive occasions between 2005 and 2014 but was playing at her lowest ranking in a decade at World No.3 and without having claimed a major title in over nine months.
But the Malaysian superstar kicked off her challenge for the title in superb style cruising past wildcard Liu Tsz-Ling and No.10 seed Delia Arnold with 3-0 victories, respectively.
The 32-year-old really hit the accelerator at the quarter-final stage, sweeping past New Zealand’s No.1 Joelle King to set up a meeting with Egypt’s Omneya Abdel Kawy in the semi-final where she again triumphed in straight games.
David then lined up against long-time rival Laura Massaro in the title-decider, with Massaro in outstanding form herself, having won the Delaware Investments US Open, the Qatar Classic and Macau Open in previous months.
However, she was no match for David on this occasion as, in her 100th PSA World Tour Final, the Malaysian continued her impressive form to win 3-0 yet again to maintain her impressive record of not dropping a single game throughout the entire tournament.
In the men’s event, Australian Cameron Pilley set the tournament alight, causing a series of remarkable upsets to reach his first World Series tournament final.
Unseeded for the event, Pilley began his road to the final by defeating compatriot Rex Hedrick 3-0 in the first round before completing his first giant-killing act in the second round, eliminating No.5 seed Simon Rosner 3-2 after an epic encounter.
The former World No.11 then faced newly crowned world champion Gregory Gaultier in the quarter-final, an opponent who he hadn’t beaten since 2010. Defying all expectations, Pilley swept aside the fatigued ‘French General’ with a 3-0 victory to progress to the semi-finals.
The Australian was then presented with the monumental task of facing three-time World Champion Nick Matthew who also had a vastly superior head-to-head record against Pilley. However, Pilley continued his great form to win 3-0 and secure a place in the final against Mohamed Elshorbagy.
Determined to recover from his poor World Championship performance, Elshorbagy played some explosive squash to outmanoeuvre Pilley despite the Australian’s best efforts.
Although he fell short in the final, the tournament represented a huge achievement for Pilley, who has since admitted that losing his position in the world top 20, and seeing fellow Aussie Ryan Cuskelly climb above him, provided extra motivation to perform well in Hong Kong.
The Australian will now be looking to extend his impressive run in the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions starting in New York this week.
Pictures courtesy of PSA