England’s James Willstrop took another step towards retaining his Hong Kong Squash Open title by beating Borja Golan of Spain in the Quarter Finals of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open 2012 at the HK Squash Centre on Friday Nov 30. Meanwhile, all three other Men’s Quarter Finals were injury affected.
Golan, who is currently ranked 18th in the world rankings, put up hard resistance with lots of energy and some fine shots. However, Willstrop came through in three straight games in a hard-fought 57-minute match.
Willstrop’s opponent in the Semi-finals will be fourth seed Karim Darwish of Egypt who had a walk-over as Peter Barker of England withdrew with a hamstring strain.
In the other Semi-final, fifth seed Ramy Ashour of Egypt will play second seed Nick Matthew of England, who also had a walk-over into the Semi-finals. Egypt’s Arm Shabana, Matthew’s intended opponent in the Quarter Final, withdrew with bruised ribs sustained in his 70-minute tussle with Tom Richards of England in the previous round.
Ashour beat third seed Gregory Gaultier of France in a highly charged, dramatic match to progress to the Semi-finals.
With Ashour leading in the match by two games to one and 10 points to three in the fourth game, Gaultier dropped a ball to the front of the court. Ashour dived to retrieve, placing another front wall drop, but in Gaultier’s effort to reach the ball, slipped and sprained his right ankle. As the injury was self-inflicted he was only allowed three minutes injury time, which was insufficient, and the game was awarded to Ashour.
Meanwhile, Women’s World No. 1 Nicol David of Malaysia continued her dominating form to move into the Semi-final.
The venue for the Hong Kong Open changes now, with the Semi-finals and Finals taking place at the Cultural Centre Piazza, Tsim Sha Tsui, on the banks of Victoria Harbour.
The annual Hong Kong Squash Open has been held since 1985 – except when Hong Kong hosted the 2005 World Open Squash Championships – and is one of the few tournaments that brings the world’s best men and women together in two top-tier tournaments.
As an equivalent of one of tennis’s Grand Slam events, winning the prestigious tournament is one of the aspirations on many professional players’ lists.
Peter Nicol from Scotland won the Open on four occasions in the Men’s category; as has Amr Shabana from Egypt, who has won four consecutive titles at this event.
Meanwhile, Nicol David of Malaysia has a more impressive record having won the last six consecutive titles (2006-11) in the Women’s category. She also won the 2005 Women’s World Open Squash Championships held in Hong Kong.
This year, David will be defending her 2011 title, as will last year’s Men’s winner James Willstrop from England.
Also this year, the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open 2012 has the honour of having the International Olympic Committee present to complete an “inspection” to determine if squash will be on the programme for the 2020 Summer Olympics.
The line-up for Semi-final matches taking place on Saturday Dec 1.
Men: James Willstrop of England will meet Karim Darwish of Egypt; and Ramy Ashour of Egypt plays Nick Matthew.
Women: Nicol David of Malaysia will play Natalie Grinham of the Netherlands; and Camille Serme of France plays Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt.
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