Two Women’s seeds crashed out of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open in the first round completed on Wednesday Nov 28.
No. 2 seed Laura Massaro of England lost to Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt, who is working her way back up the rankings after being away because of injury. She is currently ranked No. 22 in the world, but has been as high as No. 4. Kawy was originally No. 1 seed in the Qualifying Draw, but was promoted to the main competition as Jaclyn Hawkes of Australia withdrew.
Kawy summed up her performance explaining that she was confident even though she had never beaten her higher ranked opponent.
“I felt good inside the court. Playing well. Moving well. I haven’t played Laura and won [before], but we have had close matches in the past,” Kawy told The Epoch Times.
“I tried to take advantage as we have just won the World Team Event, so I am a bit confident and she is higher ranked than me so she had more pressure. I was enjoying it.
“It’s good to think I have beaten a top 10 player” she concluded.
The other seed to fall is Hong Kong’s No. 1, Annie Au, who was expected to progress well into the final stages of the completion. It was an impressive performance by 26-year-old Joshana Chinappa from Bombay, India, who won the deciding fifth game 11:5. She currently holds a world No. 32 ranking as opposed to Au’s No. 9. The loss was a huge disappointment to the Hong Kong crowd.
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.
Chinappa beating Au has a notable similarity to Kawy’s victory over Massaro.
“I definitely wanted to win – that was definitely what I was feeling. I knew I had the game to beat her. I have played her [Au] before many times, but have lost the last three, so I knew the odds were kind of against me,” Chinappa told The Epoch Times.
“I am so glad I won today. I have never beaten a top 10 player before,” she added.
The only Hong Kong player still in the tournament is Joey Chan, but she has a huge task in the next round as she meets the world No. 1, Nicol David of Malaysia.
The second round takes place on Thursday Nov 29.
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