Top seeds up and running in Hong Kong
By SEAN REUTHE
Defending champions Mohamed ElShorbagy and Nour El Sherbini got their Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Squash Open campaigns under way today with respective wins over Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly and Belgium’s Nele Gilis at Hong Kong Squash Centre.
ElShorbagy, who beat World No.2 Ali Farag in last year’s final, earned his place in the second round of the PSA World Tour Platinum event courtesy of a comfortable 3-0 win over World No.13 Ryan Cuskelly.
Cuskelly claimed a shock victory the last time these two met at January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions but ElShorbagy gained his revenge today, with a composed performance seeing him take an 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 victory.
“Ryan is a great player. He beat me the last time we played at ToC and fully deserved to beat me, so it was good to get a win because it’s never easy to play him,” Alexandria-born ElShorbagy said afterwards.
“This court has a fast front wall and you have to be careful with your tactics because if you get it wrong then it’s tough to get back into the match again. Every time I was ahead and every time he came back at me, I tried to think and stay calm and I’m really happy to be in the next round.
“I’m going to try and get my fourth title here. It’s not going to be easy.”
The 27-year-old will play England’s Tom Richards for a place in the last eight after Richards beat India’s Ramit Tandon, and the winner of that match will play either World No.8 Paul Coll or World No.16 Declan James.
Coll downed local favourite Leo Au by a 3-1 margin to book a place in round three, while James toppled in-form Welshman Joel Makin in a gruelling 85-minute, five-game battle.
“I’m really happy,” said New Zealand’s Coll. “I felt like my performance was a bit up and down and against a home player like that, he is always going to be up for it. It’s a tough one and I really had to dig deep to find some answers to his attacking at the front.”
World No.4 Tarek Momen also booked his place in the last 16 after beating Australia’s Cameron Pilley and he will contest a third round fixture against Germany’s Raphael Kandra next. Egypt’s Mohamed Abouelghar and Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng will also meet in round three after respective wins over Nafiizwan Adnan and Joshua Masters.
In the women’s event, El Sherbini kicked off her title defence with a commanding display against World No.31 Nele Gilis, winning in straight games to ensure that she will hold onto her World No.1 spot for at least another day.
The 23-year-old’s 31-month reign atop the World Rankings will come to an end if she fails to match World No.2 Raneem El Welily’s results at this tournament, but she insists she only has her eyes set on retaining her title for the time being.
“I’ve been World No.1 for a long time and this was going to come sooner or later,” El Sherbini said.
“It’s always challenging and I haven’t been on the edge a lot, but I’m just going to play and be positive and try to win the title. The first match is always important, winning 3-0 has given me a push to be ready for the next round and we will see how I go.”
A mouthwatering encounter with 2016 runner-up Amanda Sobhy awaits the Egyptian in the next round after the United States No.1 got the better of Hong Kong No.1 Annie Au in four games.
Sobhy, the World No.13 from Boston, contested a highly entertaining battle with her fellow left-hander and took the first game, before Au – cheered on by the partisan crowd – threw everything at her opponent in the second to draw level. However, Sobhy kept up her attacking brand of squash and prevailed in games three and four to book her place in the next round.
“I’m happy, I love Hong Kong,” Sobhy said afterwards. “I have fond memories here. I got to the final here a few years ago so it was disappointing to miss it last year, but I was looking forward to it this year. I have a tough draw, but everyone is tough and the level is really deep at the moment.”
World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry and World No.9 Tesni Evans will contest an all-British third round encounter after they overcame Zeina Mickawy and Julianna Courtice, respectively. Perry and Evans met at last month’s U.S. Open, where Evans ended a six-match losing streak against Perry to become the first Welsh player ever to reach the semi-finals of that tournament.
World No.3 Nour El Tayeb is also through after beating England’s Fiona Moverley, and she will play India’s Joshna Chinappa for a place in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, World No.7 Joelle King defeat Mayar Hany by a 3-1 scoreline and will go up against World No.20 Hania El Hammamy after she axed US No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne.
The second round continues tomorrow (November 21) as 2017 runner-ups Farag and El Welily begin their tournaments. Play begins at 12:00 (GMT+8) and will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only).
PSA Platinum 2018 Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Squash Open ($164,500 prize money for both men and women).
Men’s Second Round (Top Half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 (30m)
Tom Richards (ENG) bt Ramit Tandon (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 (32m)
Declan James (ENG) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-2: 14-16, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-8 (85m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 (59m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-2 (32m)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) v Joshua Masters (ENG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9 (47m)
Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 11-9 (51m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-8 (28m)
Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half, To Be Played November 21):
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Zahed Salem (EGY) v Greg Lobban (SCO)
Max Lee (HKG) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) v George Parker (ENG)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v Diego Elias (PER)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Ali Farag (EGY)
Men’s Third Round (Top Half, To Be Played November 22):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Tom Richards (ENG)
Declan James (ENG) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Eain Yow Ng (MAS)
Raphael Kandra (GER) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 (27m)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Annie Au (HKG) 3-1: 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (38m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 (29m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-8 (40m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-1: 11-3, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5 (30m)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt  Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-5 (29m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-1: 9-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (36m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 (27m)
Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half, To Be Played November 21):
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Rachael Grinham (AUS)
Millie Tomlinson (ENG) v  Nicol David (MAS)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Danielle Letourneau (CAN)
Emily Whitlock (ENG) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v Yathreb Adel (EGY)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Salma Hany (EGY)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v Hollie Naughton (CAN)
Rowan Elaraby (EGY) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Women’s Third Round (Top Half, To Be Played November 22):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Joelle King (NZL) v Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA