Yip and Hany to play in career best finals
By Alex Wan – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Egypt dominated the evening as all three of their semi-finalists won their matches. The women’s event will be an all-Egyptian affair between defending champion Nouran Gohar and Salma Hany, who will feature in her first ever $50k final. In the men’s, Yip Tsz-Fung, who won the all-Hong Kong encounter, will also be playing his biggest final, and will face former champion Omar Mosaad.
In the first match of the evening, Omar Mosaad saw off a spirited challenge of Hong Kong’s Max Lee, who was making his third semi-final in four years here. The first game saw some cautious play from both the players, with Lee taking the early lead 5-2. But two burst of points from the big Egyptian saw him take the lead 11-7.
The second game started in similar fashion with Lee taking the lead once again, but this time, he never looked back as he slowly inched home the game 11-5.
The next game was probably the most important game. It was close and intense, with both players trading point for point mostly. It took a while, but Mosaad eventually inched away the game on his fourth game point.
With the lead, Mosaad played with a lot more confidence in the fourth. A quick lead at the start to 3-0 and 5-1 did the damage, as Lee was too far behind and never manages to come back. 11-6 to Mosaad after 53 minutes, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
“I’m just focussed match by match. I know I had a tough match last night, a 5-setter. You know, sometimes you have to play in less perfect circumstances and today, I had to concentrate fully on every single point, and I think I did a very good job in the third game, and I am very happy with my win today,” Mosaad said after.
The second match of the evening saw Salma Hany and Joey Chan play the match of the evening, with the Egyptian triumphant after 46 minutes. It was a match of momentum as both players seem take turns taking charge, but in the fifth, it was Salma Hany all the way as she went to a 6-0, 10-2 and eventually wrapping up 11-2 after 46 minutes on court.
“So I had a very slow start in the beginning, I was never very into the match. So I told myself to push through the second and the third. The second was very crucial, and to take the lead in the third. I lost a bit of concentration in the fourth and in the fifth, I just pushed for every point. Joey is such a tough opponent and I cannot let her play her game. So I am glad in the end, I managed to get the win,” said Salma Hany who will tomorrow feature in her first $50k final.
Yip Tsz-Fung is the only Hong Kong player to come through after scoring only his second win over more illustrious compatriot Leo Au. As expected, it was a close affair given that they both know each other’s game inside out. But this evening, Yip was playing exceptionally well and was controlling for most parts of the match. While he lost the second game closely, he won convincingly all the other games.
“Yeah it’s only second time, but whichever time it is, it always feels good to win. I’ve been here many times and today is only the first time I got into the semis, and now I am in the final, so naturally, I’m very happy about it. Today, I felt my concentration was very good and I was able to stick to my game plan. There was a phase where I was off focussed but I managed to regroup. I think the mental focus was the key,” said Yip who has made it to his biggest event final.
In the final match of the evening, a repeat of the last three years’ semis, Nouran Gohar made it three of three as she beat Hong Kong’s Annie Au in four games. It was very, very close in the first two games, with both players matching each other very well. But it was Gohar who manages to play the final points better to win both on the tie-break.
The third was all Au as she chopped her way through with her trademark shot-making, winning for the loss of just three points. But Gohar regrouped, and returned the favour in the fourth, winning in commanding fashion 11-0.
“It was very crucial to win the first two games, especially the second one. Annie is playing really well and she was dominating a lot. These days everyone is playing so well and you just have to wait and take any opportunities that come. I’m happy with the mental side of my game today, I tried to stay tough and that was the most crucial thing to do today. Hopefully I will stay positive again tomorrow and I am really glad to play my second final in Macau and hoping for a good match tomorrow against Salma,” said the defending champion.
Yip Tsz-Fung (HKG) bt Leo Au (HKG) 11-5, 11-13, 11-5, 11-5 (56m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 11-7, 5-11, 13-11, 11-6 (53m)
Salma Hany (EGY) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 8-11, 11-2 (46m)
Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Annie Au (HKG) 12-10, 12-10, 3-11, 11-0 (38m)
Pictures by Macau Squash