Lightning strikes twice in Hong Kong as locals battle through
By NATHAN CLARKE in Hong Kong
Just 24 hours after watching Men’s wildcard Tsz Fung Yip stun World No.5 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in the first round of the Men’s 2016 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, Women’s wildcard Ho Tze-Lok emulated her compatriot to eliminate former Women’s World No.2 Jenny Duncalf in a five-game thriller inside the Hong Kong Squash Centre today.
Yip showed class and composure as he dictated the play against Rodriguez yesterday and today it was the turn of World No.75 Ho to display similar traits, as she rallied from 2-0 down to pull off a huge upset and send Duncalf out of the tournament at the first hurdle.
Duncalf looked on course for an easy win after taking the first two games 11-1 and 11-4 but the wildcard fought back, slowing the game down to take Duncalf out of her rhythm and it paid off as she took the third 11-7 before saving seven match balls in the fourth to set up an improbable fifth-game victory.
“I’m really, really surprised,” said Ho. “To win is really unexpected and I just hope I can come back and do my best tomorrow and enjoy the opportunity.
“In the first game I just couldn’t see the ball. She was hitting it so hard and fast, the ball was past me before I could even see it.
“I had to change my plan and slow down the pace and play deep and straight. I just keep telling myself to take it one point at a time.”
Ho will now face Frenchwoman Camille Serme in the second round after the 2015 British Open winner staved off a fightback from India’s Dipika Pallikal Karthik during a day that was dominated by five-game epics.
The 32-year-old World No.2 Laura Massaro was forced to call on all of her experience to come through 3-2 over fearless Egyptian 15-year-old Hania El Hammamy while defending champion Nicol David – the Malaysian who hasn’t lost here in a decade – flirted with elimination against Welsh player Tesni Evans before eventually coming through 11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5 after 68-minutes.
“The first round is always tough and we’ve played some really good matches before so I knew it would’t be easy,” said David.
“She went in there just playing her shots and making very few mistakes and I had a few lapses as well. She played a great match and I had to work hard to stay consistent in the end and that’s what saw me through.
“The first round match is always an adjustment but I’m really pleased to come through in the end. I constructed my game much better in the fifth and didn’t really let her in. I put the pressure on and it is very pleasing to come through.”
In the Men’s tournament there was further success for Hong Kong as the experienced Max Lee overcame English qualifier Joe Lee in straight games.
Egyptian maverick Ramy Ashour marked his return to PSA World Tour action with an entertaining 3-0 win over Indian number one Saurav Ghosal that saw the three-time World Champion moving without any signs of the hamstring issues that have plagued him over the past few years.
Ashour has missed the lion’s share of the past two seasons on Tour and has seen his World Ranking plummet to a decade-low No.12, but he looked to have put his demons to rest as he scampered around court in an encounter that saw both men produce fast-paced, entertaining play before Ashour sealed it 12-10 in the third.
“Of course I’m happy to get off to a winning start,” said Ashour afterwards.
“It’s good to have a purpose. It’s been a tough couple of years and I’m looking forward to understanding myself better and being more consistent.
“I think I’m healthy – at least I am up to now. I just want to have a good relationship with my body and keep it that way. It gives you confidence to come through a match – it lets me know I’m doing something right and it’s good to be back.”
Ashour will face compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy – the man he limped off court against last time out during April’s El Gouna International – in the next round after the 23-year-old came through a tough five-game battle with Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller while World Champion Gregory Gaultier got off to a commanding winning start against compatriot Gregoire Marche.
2016 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.
Men’s First Round, Bottom Half Results:
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-2: 11-3, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7 (50m)
Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 12-10 (47m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-0: 12-10, 11-4, 11-2 (38m)
 Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (57m)
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-1: 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7 (53m)
Max Lee (HKG) bt [Q] Joe Lee (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (36m)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-9, 11-6 (35m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 (40m)
Men’s Second Round Draw:
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (EGY) v Cameron Pilley (AUS)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) v James Willstrop (ENG)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [WC] Tsz Fung Yip (HKG)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v Ramy Ashour (EGY)
Simon Rösner (GER) v  Mathieu Castagnet (FRA)
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Max Lee (HKG)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Women’s First Round, Bottom Half Results:
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-2: 11-8, 8-11, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5 (68m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt [Q] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (44m)
[WC] Ho Tze-Lok (HKG) bt  Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-2: 1-11, 4-11, 11-7, 18-16, 11-7 (52m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Dipika Pallikal (IND) 3-2: 11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 6-11, 11-6 (52m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [Q] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (29m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt [Q] Low Wee Wern (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (36m)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) bt [Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 (31m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2: 11-6, 9-11, 15-13, 7-11, 11-3 (60m)
Women’s Second Round Draw:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Joelle King (NZL)
[WC] Ho Tze-Lok (HKG) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
Pictures courtesy of PSA