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Squash: David, Massaro target Hong Kong Open finale in ‘new court’

World No. 1 Nicol David started her bid for a ninth straight Hong Kong Open title with a 3-0 win over Malaysian compatriot Delia Arnold at the Hong Kong Squash Centre. Photo: Hong Kong Squash.

World No. 1 Nicol David started her bid for a ninth straight Hong Kong Open title with a 3-0 win over Malaysian compatriot Delia Arnold at the Hong Kong Squash Centre. Photo: Hong Kong Squash.

August 27, 2014: World No. 1 Nicol David is eager to bounce back from last week’s surprise semi-final defeat in the CIMB Malaysian Open as she bids for a ninth straight title at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.


In Kuala Lumpur last week, the Malaysian lost 3-1 to eventual champion Raneem El Welily, Egypt’s World No. 3 and runner-up to David in last December’s Hong Kong Open. It was only David’s second defeat of the year, adding to her shock loss to Egyptian teenager Nour El Sherbini in the World Championship semis in her native Penang in March.


However, the eight-year No. 1 – who went undefeated in 2008 and 2010 – said she had learned from the losses and that they hadn’t affected her confidence heading into Hong Kong.


“Raneem played really well and I just lost to a better player on the day. I think I gained a lot from that match and now I can bring in some extra knowledge this week and be more solid and sharp,” said David, who also played down the fact that both of her losses this year have been in her native Malaysia.


“It’s coincidence. Having the home crowd for the World Championships in Penang was just great, but at the same time you have to get used to playing at home. I also learned a lot from that loss and put it together for the next tournaments, like the British and the Commonwealth Games (which she won). All the girls are so close and you have to be on your toes all the time.”


All Hong Kong Open matches through to the quarter-finals will again be held at the Hong Kong Squash Centre, but this year the weekend’s semis and finals will be held at the neighbouring Hong Kong Park Sports Centre instead of the all-glass court on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront.


David, who turned 31 on Tuesday, is keen to be part of the weekend’s action and started her campaign well by beating compatriot Delia Arnold 3-0 in the first round on Tuesday.


“I’ve never played there. It’s a new venue and that’s always and exciting experience and an added motivation to get there at the weekend,” she said. “I want to do well from the start and just stay strong. I’m looking forward to seeing how I go.”


David confirmed that the Hong Kong Open remains one of the world’s top tournaments and would feature in squash’s equivalent of the four Grand Slams in tennis or the majors in golf.


“I think you can say the Hong Kong Open is the Grand Slam of the Asian region, because all the top players come here, men and women,” said David, who won her first Hong Kong Open title in 2006, a year after winning her first World Championship title in the city.


“They’re always gunning for the Hong Kong Open title because it’s so prestigious, it has been around for such a long time and everybody loves Hong Kong. You have the British Open, the US Open and the World Open, and probably Hong Kong is also one of the top ones.”


Laura Massaro, who has spent 16 months as World No. 2, is again the second seed in a women’s field missing five of the world’s top 11.


Like David, Massaro is also looking to bounce back from a surprise defeat in Kuala Lumpur, where she was lost to surprise finalist Nour El Tayeb in the second round.


Unlike David, Massaro doesn’t have a great record in Hong Kong and is bidding to reach the final for the first time, buoyed by winning this year’s World Championship and reaching the finals of both the British Open and Commonwealth Games, losing to David each time.


“I don’t normally do well here, but normally I do well in Malaysia. I’ve won the KL Open before and won the World Championships there earlier this year, so last week was a bit of a shock because we’d put in a lot of training and a lot of effort in to go to the Commonwealth Games and I performed well,” said Massaro, who beat Egyptian qualifier Kanzy El Dafrawy 3-0 in the first round.


“I guess it showed that everyone who was part of the Commonwealth Games went out early or didn’t perform as well as they wanted. I think it showed how draining the Commonwealth Games can be.


“Since last week, I’ve definitely had a good week and regrouped a bit mentally, so I’m looking forward to getting going again and putting last week right, if I can. I’m excited to play as I think it’s been four or five years since I played in the semis here. I’d love to play in the new court at the weekend.”


El Welily is not competing this week to attend a family wedding, while other top players missing include World No. 4 Joelle King, who ruptured her Achilles tendon, El Sherbini (No. 8), India’s Dipika Pallikal (No. 10) and Ireland’s Madeline Perry (No. 11).


World No. 1 Gregory Gaultier is the top seed in the men’s event, which is missing 2013 champion Nick Mathew and two-time winner Ramy Ashour, the World No. 2 and 4 respectively. World No. 3 Mohamed Elshorbagy is the second seed, with the Egyptian boosted by his victory in last week’s Malaysian Open.


Women’s first round (top half of draw; Tuesday)

[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Delia Arnold (MAS) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5 (31m)

[13] Emma Beddoes (ENG) bt Siyoli Waters (RSA) 12-10, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)

[15] Joey Chan (HKG) bt [Q] Milou van der Heijden (NED) 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (25m)

[7] Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 11-2, 11-5, 6-11, 11-6 (40m)

[3] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Laura Pomportes (FRA) 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5 (41m)

[9] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [Q] Latasha Khan (USA) 11-4, 11-5, 11-2 (19m)

Victoria Lust (ENG) bt [12] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) 11-8, 11-9, 12-10 (43m)

[8] Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [Q] Salma Hany Ibrahim (EGY) 11-6, 13-11, 11-5 (31m)


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