James Willstrop of England, the current Men’s World No. 1 and reigning champion, has progressed through to the Quarter Finals in the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open 2012.
Willstrop, although winning in three straight games, was made to work hard to overcome Ong Beng Hee of Malaysia. After the match, Willstrop explained that no game could be taken lightly.
“The strength of the players in both the women’s and men’s game is very strong so every game is taken on its merits,” Willstrop told The Epoch Times.
“I am pleased with the result,” he added.
In the men’s competition, the only seed to miss the Quarter Finals is Mohamed El Shorbagy of Egypt, seeded 8, who lost to talented Borja Golan of Spain by three games to one. Golan, ranked 18 in the world, will meet Willstrop in the Quarter Finals.
Ramy Ashour of Egypt had quite a tough match against Saurav Ghosal of India in the second round. After being two games up and seemingly well in control, he lost the next game 12-10 and only won the fourth game by the same margin in reverse.
Six of the eight round two men’s matches lasted longer than one hour, causing the schedule based on 45-minute games to become seriously extended, with the last match ending well after midnight.
The tournament is now getting down to the business end and all matches are likely to be very close and hard-fought with seven of the men’s top world ranked players — seven of the eight seeds in the tournament — competing for places in the Semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Women’s World No. 1, Nicol David of Malaysia, breezed through to the Quarter Finals.
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 Quarter Final matches taking place on Friday Nov 30.
Men: James Willstrop, the world No. 1, plays Borja Golan of Spain; Peter Barker of England will meet Karim Darwish of Egypt; Gregory Gaultier of France plays Ramy Ashour of Egypt; and Amr Shababa of Egypt plays Nick Matthew.
Women: Nicol David of Malaysia against Kasey Brown of Australia; Jenny Duncalf of England plays Natalie Grinham of the Netherlands; Camille Serme of France plays Rachael Grinham of Australia; and Alsion Water of England plays Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt.
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