Thursday, November 30, 2023

Hong Kong: Egyptian stars dazzle

Hisham Ashour gets in front of Ong Beng Hee. Picture by STEVE CUBBINS courtesy of SquashSite

Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial
Hong Kong Open 2011,
13-21 Nov, Hong Kong, China

DAILY NEWS – Edition #4 – Wednesday 16th November

Round One, Part Two …

It was a good day for the Egyptian contingent at Hong Kong Squash Centre as they provided five of today’s winners in the men’s draw, with Tarek Momen the only one of nine qualifiers in action to survive.

Elsewhere Stewart Boswell and Emma Beddoes upset the seedings while home favourites Lee Ka Yi and Joey Chan delighted the crowd although only one of them actually won …


Men’s Round One (bottom):

Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt Ong Beng Hee (Mas)          11/6, 11/7, 7/11, 11/9 (47m)
[4] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)          11/8, 11/9, 3/11, 11/1 (40m)
Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt [Q] Gregoire Marche (Fra)          11/4, 11/7, 11/1 (33m)
[7] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (Sco)          11/8, 11/8, 11/6 (34m)
Stewart Boswell (Aus) bt [8] Thierry Lincou (Fra)            11/3, 11/9, 11/5 (45m)
Tom Richards (Eng) bt [Q] Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)            8/11, 11/5, 11/8, 2/11, 12/10 (77m)
[Q] Tarek Momen (Egy) Nicolas Mueller (Sui)             15/17, 11/4, 11/8, 11/7 (48m)
[2] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [Q] Ivan Yuen (Mas)             11/5, 11/5, 11/4 (27m)


Women’s Round One (bottom):

[2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt [Q] Lee Ka Yi (Hkg)           11/4, 11/9, 8/11, 11/9 (34m)
[13] Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt [Q] Kylie Lindsay (Nzl)           11/4, 11/4, 11/7 (29m)
[7] Camille Serme (Fra) bt Liu Tsz Ling (Hkg)            11/3, 11/3, 11/1 (23m)
Emma Beddoes (Eng) bt [14] Sarah Kippax (Eng)            11/6, 11/6, 2/11, 11/5 (43m)
[10] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt [Q] Sina Wall (Ger)            11/6, 11/4, 11/3 (17m)
[4] Madeline Perry (Irl) bt Dipika Pallikal (Ind)            5/11, 11/8, 12/10, 5/11, 11/7 (61m)
[15] Joey Chan (Hkg) bt Aisling Blake (Irl)            11/6, 11/8, 11/6 (42m)
[6] Kasey Brown (Aus) bt Melody Francis (Aus)            11/5, 11/6, 11/7 (30m)


Good day for the Egyptians  as Momen avoids cull of the qualifiers

With Egyptians featuring in five of today’s men’s matches we were expecting a few of them to go through to the last sixteen, and Hisham Ashour made it a good start for them, looking in good form as he beat Malaysia’s Ong Beng Hee in four games.

After a bright start by Ashour, Ong pulled a game back and at 9/7 in the fourth looked like forcing a decider, but Ashour, in his own words, “played a few good shots” to close out the match 11/6, 11/7, 7/11, 11/9.

He was swiftly followed by five-time Hong Kong champion Amr Shabana, who recovered from early deficits in each of the first two games against qualifier Nafiizwan Adnan before the Malaysian deservedly pulled a game back.

Shabana was in no mood for a decider though, and swiftly established a winning lead before finishing the match with a reflex backhand over/across the head volley followed by a flashing crosscourt to win 11/8, 11/9, 3/11, 11/1.

Ashour and Shabana will now meet in a rematch of their World Open meeting of a few days ago which Shabana came from two-nil down to win.

Looking very sharp, Azlan Iskandar wasted no time in despatching French qualifier Gregoire March 11/4, 11/7, 11/1 in just over half an hour, but Mohamed El Shorbagy, the third Egyptian winner of the day, looked equally sharp in his quickfire 11/8, 11/8, 11/6 win over Alan Clyne in just one minute longer.

The first upset of the round came when Stewart Boswell beat eighth seed Thierry Lincou 11/3, 11/9, 11/5 up on court 9. Lincou, always a favourite with the Hong Kong crowd, looked flat after his recent exploits in Macau, and although he briefly threatened a comeback in the third Boswell shut the door in 45 minutes.

Just when we thought we were going to have an early night, along come a pair of brutal matches. Upstairs on court 9 Tom Richards survived a mighty challenge from French qualifier Mathieu Castagnet.

After the first four games were shared the Englishman led the way in the decider, but pure determination saw Castagnet come back and earn two match balls at 10/8.

A despairing dive into the back corner couldn’t stop Richards levelling and the Englishman completed a run of four points to win   8/11, 11/5, 11/8, 2/11, 12/10 in 77 minutes, bringing the whole crowd to its feet in applause.

The only upset of the round came when Tarek Momen, a qualifier who on current rankings would have made the main draw as of right – completed a good day for the Egyptian contingent, getting the better of a fast and furious encounter with Nicolas Mueller 15/17, 11/4, 11/8, 11/7.

The day’s action finished as it started with an Egyptian winner. Second seed Karim Darwish is adept at dismissing lower ranked opposition quickly, and Malaysia’s Ivan Yuen could do nothing to stop that record as Darwish went through to a second round meeting with Momen 11/5, 11/5, 11/4 in less than half an hour.


Lee delights but Joey wins …

After a relatively comfortable first game against 17-year-old local qualifier Lee Ka-Yi, world number two Jenny Duncalf ended up being relieved and grateful to finish off the opening women’s match on her first match ball opportunity in the fourth.

The Hong Kong youngster, far from being overawed by her opponent or the occasion, really made a game of the second which she lost narrowly, then fired in a series of winning shots at the end of the third to pull a game back. She continued to impress in the fourth, and at 9-8 had an opportunity of the sort she’d been making, but tinned it.

Duncalf needed no second invite as she finished the match off, a match that ended up tougher than she, or anyone else, might have imagined.

Coach Rebecca Chiu was pleased with her protege’s performance: “I thought she would be more nervous and make more mistakes than she did,” admitted Chiu, “but she played really well and was hitting some very good winners, and she had a chance to take it to five games.”

Duncalf’s next opponent is Malaysian Low Wee Wern who also faced a qualifier in New Zealand’s Kylie Lindsay. The rallies were well contested, mainly at the back of the court, but the Malaysian always had the edge, winning 11/4, 11/4, 11/7.

Camille Serme looked determined not to let her young Hong Kong opponent Liu Tsz Ling get a sniff of an upset, moving on with a 11/3, 11/3, 11/1 scoreline.

An upset – on paper, not necessarily on current form – came about in the following match as Emma Beddoes won her all-English match with 14th seed Sarah Kippax.

“It’s always weird when you play another English player,” commented the winner, “the crowd are very quiet, I don’t think anyone applauded anything for the first two games!”

Beddoes took those two 11/6, 11/6 but Kippax stormed back with 11/2 in the third. “She came out hitting winners, which I wasn’t expecting,” said Beddoes, “but I was pleased with how I regrouped to take the fourth.

“I’m very pleased, of course, I’ve been playing well and that’s my first ever win over Sarah after playing her a lot over the years, so it’s nice to do it in a big event like this. It’s the last tournament of the year for most of us so the further we can go the better.”

The shortest match of the day saw in-form Egyptian Raneem El Weleily breeze past German qualifier Sina Wall 11/6, 11/4, 11/7 in just 17 minutes, while her prospective opponent Madeline Perry needed just over an hour to see off the challenge of another in-form youngster, Dipika Pallikal.

The Indian number one had chances of a two-nil lead until a few errors at the end of the second let the fourth seed back in, but it remained an even contest until the death, the Irishwoman eventually winning 5/11, 11/8, 12/10, 5/11, 11/7.

“She was firing in winners from everywhere at the start,” said a relieved Perry, “I was expecting the ball to come back to me but it just didn’t. It was all pretty quickfire stuff, not many long rallies until the end, but it was always going to be close as she’s been playing very well.

“I felt that if I could stick in I would get some errors from her, which I did, but the fourth was poor from me, the fifth was good though – it was a good match to get me used to the court!”

Where Lee Ka Yi had earlier delighted without being a realistic prospect for the second round, the Hong Kong crowd expected Joey Chan to progress and she duly delivered, repeating he Macau Open final victory just days ago, beating Aisling Blake again 11/6, 11/8, 11/6 to join Annie Au in round two.

“I was confident going into the match,” said Joey, “having already beaten her in Macau and playing on my home courts this time. I tried to stay calm and keep patient, but I felt she was tiring towards the end of the second so I started to attack more.

“I’m really happy to get through to the second round for the first time.”


The second round – last sixteen – takes place at Hong Kong Squash Centre on Thursday, starting at 13.30.

Full reports, quotes and photos on TODAY in Hong Kong:


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