Yip Tze-Fung and Salma Hany send top seeds packing
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
There will be no top seeds in the finals of the Macau Squash Open for the second year running as both the men’s and women’s top seeds were shockingly shown the door in similar fashion. Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz-Fung and Egyptian Salma Hany both put in stellar performances to eject Borja Golan and Camille Serme in straight games.
Both Yip and Golan are known to play a very disciplined way, and today was no different. Two bursts of a few points at the start of the each of the first two games allowed Yip to nudge ahead with a small gap, which he never lost. In the third, it was all one-way traffic, as Yip went to 5-1 and 9-2, before wrapping up 11-3 in just 8 minutes, half the time of each of the first two games.
“I played pretty well today and I’m especially happy with how I managed to concentrate throughout the match. Maybe Borja (Golan) was a little distracted but I am glad I managed to stay focussed and truly happy I managed to get through this round. If Leo (Au) wins too, we’d both be fighting for a spot for the final tomorrow, and that would be a brilliant thing for Hong Kong squash. So, I hope he will put on a good show later,” Yip said after.
Hong Kong are guaranteed a finalist in the men’s event Yip Tsz-Fung’s opponent in the last four tomorrow is compatriot Leo Au, who overcame first game jitters to oust Egyptian Omar Abdel Meguid in a somewhat physical encounter.
“I was a little nervous in the first game and I was lucky to have gotten the last few points. After that my coach reminded me of the things I should be doing more and things were a lot better then. Tomorrow, I hope both Yip (Tsz-Fung) and myself will play a good match for everyone to enjoy,” Au said.
Max Lee, one of the crowd favourites here in Macau, returns to the last four once again, after faltering in the last eight the previous year. The 2015 champion saw off the challenge of tricky Egyptian Mazen Hesham in 38 minutes.
There was nearly another upset in the final match of the evening as Qatari Abdulla Al Tamimi blew away a two game and later a 9-6 lead in the fourth against the “Hammer of Thor” Omar Mosaad. The former world championships finalist had to dig deep into his experience to come through after just over an hour in court.
Salma Hany, the 21-year-old from Alexandria pulled off the other upset of the day as she took out Camille Serme in three games. After losing to Serme twice last year, this time, it was her turn to shine. An incident in the second game where Salma Hany’s follow through caught Serme’s nose shouldn’t mar the win of the young Egyptian who played courageously.
“I’m very happy with my performance today. Playing Camille (Serme) is always tough and yeah, I’m just happy with how I did in court and managed to get the win.”
When asked if the incident where she hit Serme in the nose could’ve affected the Frenchwoman, “I think Camille (Serme) is a top player and I think she manages to handle these situations. She’s had to face such situations before,” said a jubilant Salma Hany.
There was more joy for Hong Kong as both their women Joey Chan and Annie Au also booked their places in the last four, with Chan upsetting her higher ranked American opponent Olivia Blatchford in four games. Having won the first, she lost a little concentration in the next and allowed Blatchford a run of eight consecutive points to draw level. She manages to refocus to take the third, before having to save a game ball in the fourth to wrap up the win on her second match ball after 43 minutes.
Annie Au, however, had an easy day in the office as she found her range very early in the match to see off England’s world number 17 Emily Whitlock in under 20 minutes. Her precise lobs and holds had Whitlock on her back foot right from the start, and she never allowed Whitlock to settle in each of the three games.
Annie Au will face Nouran Gohar in the last four tomorrow in a repeat of last year’s meeting at the same stage here. The Egyptian hard-hitter came through after beating compatriot Marian Metwally in straight games. Apart from the second game where she was forced to save two game points, Gohar was never truly troubled.
“I’ve always loved to play tournaments in Asia, whether it’s Hong Kong, Macau or China, it’s always nice. Winning the title last year was very special for me, so I was very excited to come back here and play some good squash.”
“Even with Camille (Serme) out, all the matches are really tough these days. Salma Hany is playing really well and the fact that she beat Camille, it makes her an even harder player to play because you’d be playing someone who has no pressure and they’ve just beaten the top seed. For all players, when you are the higher seed, there is so much more pressure on yourself, so it’s she’d be a really tricky one to play,” said Gohar who was asked to comment if the path seems clearer for her to retain her title now.
Yip Tsz-Fung (HKG) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 11-8, 11-9, 11-8 (40m)
Leo Au (HKG) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 13-11, 11-4, 11-3 (42m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 11-8, 11-5, 12-10 (38m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Abdulla Al Tamimi (QAT) 6-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4 (72m)
Salma Hany (EGY) bt Camille Serme (FRA) 11-9, 11-8, 11-9 (53m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt Olivia Blatchford (USA) 11-6, 5-11, 11-3, 13-11 (43m)
Annie Au (HKG) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 11-4, 11-1, 11-3 (19m)
Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 11-5, 14-12, 11-3 (35m)
Pictures by Macau Squash