12:14 pm
14 Dec 2018

Local Trio Survive Opening Day Of Hong Kong Open Action

19 Nov 2018

Local trio Yip Tsz Fung, Leo Au and Joey Chan booked their second round berths in the Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Open after victories on the opening day of action in the PSA World Tour Platinum event which is celebrating its 33rd edition since 1985.

Au, the Hong Kong No.2 on the men's tour, got the better of Spain's Edmon Lopez in four games. The world No.22 - who last year stunned three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour to reach the second round for the first time - was pegged back after taking a one-game advantage.

But Au was able to re-establish his lead over the course of the next two games to complete an 9-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 victory to ensure that he will take on New Zealand's world No.8 Paul Coll in the last 32.

"I think Edmon started really well in the first game," said 28-year-old Au afterwards.

"He was more aggressive and first to the ball and I figured that out and tried to keep the ball into the back corners and minimise the angle. I tried to avoid letting him volley and it worked.

"I like to play here because lots of people support the local players and I hope I can perform well in front of the crowd. I feel more motivated to play here."

Meanwhile, Yip overcame Olli Tuominen - the Finn veteran who made his debut in the 2000 championship - in a comfortable straight games victory. The world No.25 will line up against England's George Parker in round two.

"I'm always happy to get the win," said Yip, who failed to progress beyond the qualifiers last year.

"I love playing here, I grew up watching this tournament, so for me it is a big journey through and I'm very pleased to play in front of a home crowd. When the crowd are here they support me and I feel more motivated."

Elsewhere at the Hong Kong Squash Centre, India's world No.68 Ramit Tandon upset Scotland's world No.40 Alan Clyne to ensure he will play England's Tom Richards next, while in-form Welshman Joel Makin halted tournament wildcard Chi Him Wong to set up an exciting second round match with the new England No.1 Declan James.

World No.53 Joshua Masters came back from 2/0 down to scalp the higher-ranked Chris Simpson in what was his first ever win at a Platinum event. The World University champion from Kent will clash with Eain Yow Ng next after the Malaysian defeated England's world No.43 Ben Coleman.

Meanwhile, Chan booked her round two berth courtesy of a 3/1 victory over South Africa's Alexandra Fuller, winning 11-7, 10-12, 11-2, 11-7 in 38 minutes. Chan's reward is a second round match against Egypt's Salma Hany, who received a bye into the second round.

Chan's was almost joined in the next round by compatriot Liu Tsz-Ling, who took world No.31 Nele Gilis to five, but the Belgian came out on top in the decider to set up a second round match with world No.1 and defending champion Nour El Sherbini.

"I feel relieved," Gilis said afterwards.

"The last two times we have played was last season and I lost both times. I knew playing her today that it would be tough, it's her home court and her home crowd so I knew she was going to be strong. I felt edgy through the match and I mentally had to push hard and that helped in the end."

The biggest upset in the women's draw saw England's Julianne Courtice overturn a two-game deficit to defeat world No.22 Mariam Metwally on her Hong Kong Open debut.

Courtice, the Manchester-based world No.42, found herself staring down the barrel of defeat after some controlled squash from her Egyptian counterpart. However, she came back to take the third, before fighting back from 8-5 down in the fourth to draw level. The fifth game proved to be a tight battle, but Courtice clinched it on the tie-break to set up a second round fixture with Tesni Evans, the world No.9 from Wales.

"It's my first time in Hong Kong and playing on that centre court, so I was really excited to get on," said the 27-year-old.

"I had a close first game and first half of the second but it ran away quickly from me. In the third, I just thought I have nothing to lose so might as well just go out and give it my all and then just kept going. I feel like this is a bonus match against Tesni and it's great to play one of the top 10 players in the world."

US No.1 Amanda Sobhy swept past Amanda Landers-Murphy in just 20 minutes and will now play Hong Kong No.1 Annie Au for a place in round three. Millie Tomlinson is also through to the last 32 after beating Egypt's Nada Abbas in straight games. The England player will go up against 10-time winner Nicol David in the next round.

World No.41 Danielle Letourneau was also a surprise winner on day one. The Canadian beat world No.29 Nadine Shahin and her reward is a round two matchup with England's world No.11 Alison Waters.