All of the men’s seeds progressed to the second round of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open completed on Wednesday Nov 28. Although none had real scares, there were a few notable performances.
French Qualifier Mathieu Castagnet put up an impressive performance against No. 7 seed Amr Shabana of Egypt and it needed some top quality shot making by Shabana to win points. One rally went on and on, maybe for 100 shots, the speed of reaction, movement around the court and variety, and accuracy of shots by both players was top class.
Amr Shabana summed up his opponent’s game.
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.
“He is a player that moves very smoothly around the court. He has developed his game with the French strategy, which is a very smooth mover and a sweet hitter of the ball,” Shabana told The Epoch Times.
“He is very easy to watch, but very tough to play against,” he added. “I managed to get cooperation from the court on a few points,” he explained.
Actually, he played many superbly deceptive and accurate winners, hitting the nick on a number of occasions. When asked about his chances in the tournament he seemed confident.
“I think I have a fair chance. I have put in my training, I just need luck and fortune. I think I am in very good form,” he said.
Simon Rosner of Germany also gave No. 2 seed Nick Matthew a competitive first match, taking him to 12:10 in the first two games. Even in the third game it was not an easy 11:6 win.
Hong Kong player Alex Au lost to No. 4 seed Karim Darwish of Egypt and Max Lee lost to Saurav Ghosal of India; a second disappointment for the home crowd.
The second round takes place on Thursday Nov 29.
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