Hong Kong hero sinks No.3 seed
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hong Kong
A virtuoso display from tournament wildcard Tsz Fung Yip brought the capacity crowd inside Hong Kong Squash Centre to their feet as the unfancied World No.50 stunned World No.5 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in an enthralling first round encounter at the 2016 Cathay Pacific Sun Hing Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.
Playing with composure and control from the off the 22-year-old, who announced his potential here in 2015 with an impressive first round victory over Tom Richards, dictated the early exchanges to take the first game 13-11.
Yip continued to attack in the second but it was Rodriguez who responded, upping his game to level and when the Colombian took the third in four minutes for the loss of just two points, it looked like the writing was on the wall for Yip.
But the Hong Kong national champion steeled himself for a huge fightback and stepped up the court, again dictating the play to reel off two consecutive games and inflict a major upset on Rodriguez which will make an early dent on his hopes of qualifying for the season-ending Dubai PSA World Series Finals.
“I’m very, very happy to have won – to beat a top five player is a big moment and a great result,” said Yip.
“I think I played quite well in the match and I have worked very hard in the last two months, so it is really pleasing to see that pay off and have something to show for it.
“I maintained the pace well in the first two but in the third he changed his game plan. To come back in the fourth and not get frustrated was important. I just tried to keep playing my own game.
“Hopefully I can come back and play well again in the next round. If I can perform I will be happy.”
Yip will face Ryan Cuskelly in the second round after the Australian saw off Egyptian qualifier Omar Abdel Meguid 3-0 while there were no first round issues for defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy, as he began his defence with a 3-1 win over Chris Simpson.
Playing with his trademark ferocity ElShorbagy successfully blasted Simpson off court but it was an error-strewn performance that saw the dominant man on Tour admit to mental lapses.
“It feels great to be back,” said ElShorbagy. “We all had a good summer break and it’s exciting to be back and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens this season.
‘The first match of every tournament is tough but especially so because this one was the first of the season and I was mentally switching on and off.
“You sort of forget the mental aspects of it being a proper match and not a practice match. I just need to get used to it again, but everyone is in the same situation and I think we’ll all get better from the first round.
“All credit to Chris, he played well – a lot better than when we played here two years ago – and made me work hard for it but I’m pleased to come through.”
In the Women’s draw England’s Sarah-Jane Perry came through a brutal, 94-minute encounter with compatriot Victoria Lust in the standout match of a day that saw Egyptians dominate the results board.
Perry was in complete control during the opening stages, opening up a two-game lead courtesy of 11-5 and 11-4 wins, but was dragged into a battle by Lust as the Canadian-based player upped her game in the third.
After pulling one game back Lust then managed to save two match balls in the fourth to force a decider but couldn’t find the killer touch, eventually losing out 10-12 to a relieved Perry.
“I’m very relieved to come through in five, when you go two up and see it levelled you have to be relieved to win in the end,” said Perry.
“But I’m a bit disappointed as well. I think I had two games where I was playing nice and controlled squash early on before she started playing better. I wasn’t playing my game in the third and fourth.
“I had two matches balls in the fourth and very disappointed not to take those. But I’m happy to come through in the end, and I have a day off to recover and get ready for the next match now.”
Perry will now play American number one Amanda Sobhy for a place in the quarter-finals after the former Harvard student got off to a typically rampaging start in complete contrast to her second round opponent.
Dictating the play from the off against local hope Joey Chan, Sobhy played with confidence and moved with a spring in her step as she attacked at will to come through 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 after just 25 minutes while Raneem El Welily spent just three minutes longer on court in a rapid-fire 3-1 contest with Australian Rachael Grinham.
Her Egyptian compatriot Nour El Tayeb, who missed most of the the 2015/16 season due to a shoulder injury, got her campaign off to a winning start with victory over another Australian in the form of Donna Urquhart while Women’s World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and Omneya Abdel Kawy completed a quartet of Egyptian winners on day one.
Joshna Chinappa of India and local favourite Annie Au completed the line up of winners on an action-packed opening day.
2016 Cathay Pacific Sun Hing Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.
Men’s First Round, Top Half Results:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) bt Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 12-10, 7-11, 11-8 (40m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (35m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (45m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) beat Borja Golan 3-0: (ESP) 11-4, 11-5, 11-9 (28m)
Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-0: 16-14, 11-9, 11-9 (49m)
James Willstrop (ENG) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 15-13, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4 (61m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 11-2 (58m)
[WC] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG) bt  Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) 3-2: 13-11, 10-12, 2-11, 11-3, 11-6 (69m)
Women’s First Round, Top Half Results:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-8 (30m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (46m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-3, 11-6 (26m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (25m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (25m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-2: 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 14-16, 12-10 (94m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 13-11, 11-7 (60m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-1: 4-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (28m)
Men’s First Round, Bottom Half Draw:
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Ramy Ashour (EGY) v Saurav Ghosal (IND)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v Simon Rösner (GER)
[Q] Zahed Mohamed (EGY) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER)
Max Lee (HKG) v [Q] Joe Lee (ENG)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
[Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Women’s First Round, Bottom Half Draw:
 Nicol David (MAS) v [Q] Tesni Evans (WAL)
[Q] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v [WC] Ho Tze-Lok (HKG)
Dipika Pallikal (IND) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [Q] Olivia Blatchford (USA)
[Q] Low Wee Wern (MAS) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v [Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[Q] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of PSA