Au Pair Out As Nicol David & Ali Farag Progress In Hong Kong
16 Nov 2017
Malaysia's Nicol David, champion for 11 years in a row since 2005, and Egypt's world No.4 Ali Farag overcame Hong Kong siblings Annie Au and Leo Au on day three of the 2017 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open to reach the quarter-finals of the PSA World Series event.
Annie ended a 24-match losing streak against David last month at the US Open - and the Hong Kong number one came within a whisker of making it back-to-back wins over the eight-time World Champion.
After falling 2/1 behind, David mounted a late fightback to claim an 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 victory - thereby setting up a last eight meeting with French world No.3 Camille Serme, who also came out on top against Hong Kong opposition, beating world No.19 Joey Chan.
"She always plays well here, so I knew I had to really be on it today," said David.
"I stayed focus, but she played really well today. I had a little lapse but I knew I needed to go up another level and I performed really well, stuck to my game plan and I'm really pleased to win that 3/2.
"I knew she would bring her game forward [from the US Open], so I needed to stay solid. I didn't quite execute my game plan the way I wanted to in the last match, which gave her more opportunities to lob the ball. I tried to give her less time to work with and that helped in this match."
Elsewhere, two-time runner-up Raneem El Welily overcame fellow Egyptian Nour El Tayeb in a repeat of their US Open final clash last month, avenging that defeat in Philadelphia with an 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 victory.
"I'm very happy to win today, it wasn't easy at all," said El Welily.
"The last time we played, the fifth game was really bad from my side. She went 9-1 up, so I knew it couldn't be as bad. I took it point-by point and I'm really glad to win."
The Egyptian duo claimed respective wins over Donna Urquhart and Joshna Chinappa, with world No.4 Laura Massaro and Tesni Evans completing the quarter-final line-up. Massaro got the better of US No.1 Olivia Blatchford, while Evans will become the first female Welsh player to appear in the quarter-finals of a World Series event after she defeated world No.10 Alison Waters.
Tournament wildcard Leo Au made headlines yesterday after he blew the men's draw wide open with a stunning win over last year's winner Ramy Ashour. But the 27-year-old was unable to back up that victory, retiring mid-way through the second game of his clash with Farag.
"It's never pleasing to win that way," admitted Farag.
"He had a great match yesterday and I was ready for a big fight tonight, but it was unfortunate for him.
"I'm not sure if he did it [the injury] today or if he had been feeling it for a while, but I hope he recovers as fast as he can."
Farag will line up against English qualifier Declan James, who moved through to a maiden World Series quarter-final after his second round opponent, world No.8 Fares Dessouky, pulled out with a knee injury when leading by two games.
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier is also through to the last eight after the Frenchman came from behind to beat New Zealand's Paul Coll 2-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6, despite an out-of-sorts display from the top seed.
"It took me a while to adapt, I felt really slow and couldn't see the ball," said Gaultier.
"The ball was so fast at the beginning of the match, I didn't have my movement either. I had to really push myself in the second to produce something. I fought with my head because I was struggling to be accurate or move fast off the 'T' and it was tough, he was always recovering the shots and playing at a fast pace.
"But I managed to dig in and win the match. There are days when you play well, days when you play differently, but at the end I just tried to find a solution and play every single point."
Gaultier goes through to play Egypt's world No.6 Marwan Elshorbagy, while Marwan's older brother, world No.3 Mohamed, defeated French qualifier Lucas Serme to set up a quarter-final meeting with compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar, who saw off Germany's Simon Rösner in straight games.