12:42 pm
14 Dec 2018

Title-Holders Elshorbagy & El Sherbini Progress On Day Two of Hong Kong Open

20 Nov 2018

Defending champions Mohamed Elshorbagy and Nour El Sherbini successfully began their Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Open campaigns at Hong Kong Squash Centre with wins over Australia's Ryan Cuskelly and Belgium's Nele Gilis, respectively.

Elshorbagy, who beat world No.2 Ali Farag in last year's final, earned his place in the second round of the PSA World Tour Platinum event courtesy of a comfortable 3/0 win over world No.13 Cuskelly.

The Australian claimed a shock victory the last time these two met at January's JP Morgan Tournament of Champions but Elshorbagy gained his revenge in Hong Kong, with a composed performance seeing him take an 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 victory.

"Ryan is a great player, he beat me the last time we played at ToC and fully deserved to beat me, so it was good to get a win because it's never easy to play him," Alexandria-born Elshorbagy said afterwards.

"This court has a fast front wall and you have to be careful with your tactics because if you get it wrong then it's tough to get back into the match again. Every time I was ahead and every time he came back at me, I tried to think and stay calm and I'm really happy to be in the next round.

"I'm going to try and get my fourth title here, it's not going to be easy."

The 27-year-old will play England's Tom Richards for a place in the last eight after Richards beat India's Ramit Tandon, and the winner of that match will play either world No.8 Paul Coll or world No.16 Declan James.

Kiwi Coll downed local favourite Leo Au by a 3/1 margin to book a place in round three, while James toppled in-form Welshman Joel Makin in a gruelling 85-minute, five-game battle.

"I'm really happy," said New Zealand's Coll.

"I felt like my performance was a bit up and down and against a home player like that, he is always going to be up for it. It's a tough one and I really had to dig deep to find some answers to his attacking at the front."

World No.4 Tarek Momen also booked his place in the last 16 after beating Australia's Cameron Pilley and he will contest a third round fixture against Germany's Raphael Kandra next. Egypt's Mohamed Abouelghar and Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng will also meet in round three after respective wins over Nafiizwan Adnan and Joshua Masters.

In the women's event, El Sherbini kicked off her title defence with a commanding display against world No.31 Nele Gilis, winning in straight games to ensure that she will hold onto her world No.1 spot for at least another day.

The 23-year-old's 31-month reign at the top of the World Rankings will come to an end if she fails to match world No.2 Raneem El Welily's results at this tournament, but she insists she only has her eyes set on retaining her title for the time being.

"I've been world No.1 for a long time and this was going to come sooner or later," El Sherbini said.

"It's always challenging and I haven't been on the edge a lot, but I'm just going to play and be positive and try to win the title. The first match is always important, winning 3/0 has given me a push to be ready for the next round and we will see how I go."

A mouthwatering encounter with 2016 runner-up Amanda Sobhy awaits the Egyptian in the next round after the US No.1 got the better of Hong Kong No.1 Annie Au in four games.

Sobhy, the world No.13 from Boston, contested a highly entertaining battle with her fellow left-hander and took the first game, before Au - cheered on by the partisan crowd - threw everything at her opponent in the second to draw level. However, Sobhy kept up her attacking brand of squash and prevailed in games three and four to book her place in the next round.

"I'm happy, I love Hong Kong," Sobhy said afterwards.

"I have fond memories here. I got to the final here a few years ago so it was disappointing to miss it last year, but I was looking forward to it this year. I have a tough draw, but everyone is tough and the level is really deep at the moment."

World No.6 Sarah-Jane Perry and world No.9 Tesni Evans will contest an all-British third round encounter after they overcame Zeina Mickawy and Julianne Courtice, respectively. Perry and Evans met at last month's US Open, where Evans ended a six-match losing streak against Perry to become the first Welsh player ever to reach the semi-finals of that tournament.

World No.3 Nour El Tayeb is also through after beating England's Fiona Moverley, and she will play India's Joshna Chinappa for a place in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, world No.7 Joelle King defeat Mayar Hany by a 3/1 scoreline and will go up against world No.20 Hania El Hammamy after she axed US No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne.