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Squash: Top seeds David, Gaultier face in-form Egyptians in HK Open finals

World No. 1 Nicol David beat Amanda Sobhy 3-0 as the top seed bids for a ninth straight Hong Kong Open title. Photos: Hong Kong Squash.

World No. 1 Nicol David beat Amanda Sobhy 3-0 as she bids for a ninth Hong Kong Open title. Photos: Hong Kong Squash.

August 30, 2014: World No. 1 Nicol David crushed USA No. 1 Amanda Sobhy 3-0 (11-8, 11-4, 11-2) in a 27-minute semi-final as the Malaysian superstar continued her bid for a ninth straight title at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.

 

David will face in-form Egyptian Nour El Tayeb, who upset World No. 2 Laura Massaro for the second straight week as she reached her second straight WSA World Tour final. The World No. 25 overcame a strong fightback in the fourth by the reigning World Championship winner to prevail 3-1 (11-9, 10-12, 11-2, 12-10) in 47 minutes

 

Like David, men’s World No. 1 Gregory Gaultier stormed past his opponent in quick fashion, the 31-year-old top seed routing Tarek Momen 3-0 (11-7, 11-2, 11-3) in 37 minutes to reach the final for a fifth time, but the first since 2010. Second seed Mohamed Elshorbagy, 23, then joined the Frenchman in Sunday’s showdown with an entertaining 3-1 (11-7, 11-5, 7-11, 11-7) win over fiery Spaniard Borja Golan, last year’s runner-up.

 

David, who turned 31 on Tuesday, admitted that even she had to take some time to get used to the specially constructed all-glass court at the Hong Kong Park Sports Centre, which adjoins the Hong Kong Squash Centre, the tournament’s home through to the quarter-finals.

 

“It was close in the first game. We were both sussing things out on the glass court, as it’s a great court, but it’s very different to the other court,” David said. “It was then just a matter of putting the work in in the second and third games, as her shots didn’t come in as well and she missed a few she doesn’t usually, so I just had to put the pressure on.”

 

The eight-year No. 1 will again enjoy strong support in the final, as she bids for a 10th straight title in Hong Kong, having won her first World Championships title in the city in 2005.

 

“I’m just going to be focusing on what I have to do,” David said. “I just love playing here. It raises my game and I always play my best squash. I’m just going to go all out and leave it all out there.”

 

Nour El Tayeb, 21, upset World No. 2 Laura Massaro for a second straight week to reach her first Hong Kong Open final.

Nour El Tayeb, 21, upset World No. 2 Laura Massaro for a second straight week to reach her first Hong Kong Open final.

El Tayeb then denied Massaro a place in her first Hong Kong Open final, instead securing her own as she continued a remarkable run of form that included reaching the final of last week’s Malaysian Open.

 

In Kuala Lumpur, the young Egyptian upset Massaro and other higher-ranked players, and has continued that giant-killing run in Hong Kong, knocking out the likes of World No. 6 Alison Waters and World No. 7 Low Wee Wern. El Tayeb looked set to win when leading Massaro 7-1 and 9-5 in the fourth, but the punchy Prestonian clawed her way back before being denied a let on match point.

 

“I’m very happy to beat someone like Laura. It was very tough. I was leading and was just two points away from winning, but she kept coming and coming. She’s the world champion for a reason,” said El Tayeb, barely able to contain her excitement ahead of the biggest final of her career.

 

“I’m in the best form of my life. It’s definitely the best two weeks of my life, for sure. I understand if I won one match, but to back it up for two weeks, I really don’t know how to explain it. The furthest I was looking here was the first round!”

 

The Egyptian had men’s finalist Elshorbagy in her corner and admits that she’s not only hoping to upset David in the final but hoping that her compatriot can also defy the seedings.

 

“I’ve played Nicol twice, lost both times, but I think I’m playing well and I’m ready to give her a hard time and maybe win. Moments like these may never come again, who knows. I want to enjoy it and if I win, I would be very happy if I can make it an Egyptian double.”

 

Second seed Mohamed Elshorbagy beat 2013 runner-up Borja Golan in four games.

Second seed Mohamed Elshorbagy beat 2013 runner-up Borja Golan in four games.

Elshorbagy, who won his first Malaysian Open title last week, will aim to become the latest Egyptian to deny Gaultier, the two-time British Open champion who lost in four successive Hong Kong Open finals from 2007 to 2010 – to Amr Shabana three times then Ramy Ashour.

 

“I have no pressure tomorrow. We’ve played nine times and I’ve won one time out of nine, but that was actually the last time we played. But he has been in great form. He didn’t drop a game in this tournament and he showed how classy he is in his semi-final, but I’m going to do my best,” said Elshorbagy, whose brother Marwan was in his corner as he reached his first Hong Kong Open final.

 

“Malaysia was great preparation for me. It’s the first time I won it and it gave me great confidence and I’m trying to take that confidence into here, so it’s been going well so far. Getting to my first final here is great, but we’re all here to win, not just to justify your seeding. I would love to win it, as much as Greg, because he has lost four finals here, so we both want our first win here.

 

“I know I have many, many more years to win it, but I never think like this. I think that this is the time want to win it. I’m going to think like this and see what happens.”

 

For more information, visit: www.psaworldtour.com, wsaworldtour.com, www.hksquash.org.hk

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