10:58 pm
25 May 2024

El Sherbini Survives Day Two Hong Kong Open Scare

29 Nov 2022

World No.2 Nour El Sherbini almost saw her title challenge at the Everbright Securities International Hong Kong Open come to an end at the second round stage when she was taken the full distance by compatriot Nadine Shahin at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.

El Sherbini won the PSA World Tour Platinum event back in 2017 but was almost stunned by a superb performance from world No.22 Shahin. Prior to the match, the pair's average match time was just 20 minutes after five straight El Sherbini wins, but Shahin was brave and full of attacking vigour as she twice came back from a game down to take the game to her illustrious compatriot.

No.2 seed El Sherbini was able to move up a gear in the deciding game as she eventually kept her opponent at bay to seal an 11-6, 6-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-5 victory.

"I'm happy to be through but I didn't expect that," said El Sherbini.

"She was playing really well. I don't think that I was playing the best squash, and I think the court was a bit tricky for me. I had an up-and-down match. I'm just happy I won in the end, it was very challenging mentally and physically for me.

"She was fighting until the end and I've never seen her play like that against me. Maybe I wasn't playing the right game plan. It was more her game plan and she was maybe more confident and more relaxed. I have to play the right squash from the start, the third game and the first game were quick, but your opponent is always coming to win. You have to keep playing for every point and focus on your game."

El Sherbini will go up against local player Tsz-Wing Tong - the only Hong Kong player left in the women's draw - in the next round. The Hong Kong No.4 got the better of Malaysia's former world No.5 Low Wee Wern to reach the last 16 of a Platinum event for the first time.

The only seeded player to miss out on a place in the third round was No.8 seed Salma Hany, who fell to a 3/1 defeat against fellow Egyptian Yathreb Adel.

"I'm very happy to get one of these wins against her," said Adel, who will play Belgium's Nele Gilis next.

"She's a very dangerous player and we've been good friends and played against each other many times since juniors and now on the professional circuit. It's been a while since I've got a good result, so it's given me confidence and I'm enjoying it as much as I can. If I keep putting in the work then I'm sure the results will come."

World No.1 and 2016 champion Nouran Gohar is also through to the last 16 after beating Hong Kong No.2 Tomato Ho and will now take on England's Jasmine Hutton for a place in the quarter-finals. She will be joined by compatriot Hania El Hammamy, with the Egyptian eliminating Hong Kong No.3 Ka Yi Lee from the tournament.

All eight seeds have advanced to the last 16 of the men's event, with defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy kicking his tournament off with a 3/0 win against Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng.

ElShorbagy, a four-time Hong Kong open champion, was competing in his 650th PSA match and continued the red-hot form which has seen him win four titles already this season as he completed an 11-9, 11-9, 11-5 victory. The Englishman will take on Eain Yow's compatriot Ivan Yuen in the next round.

"I've had a lot of success here over the years, I've played in four finals and have a 100 per cent record," said ElShorbagy.

"I don't know why Hong Kong has always brought the best out in me, but it's great to come back here. I'm sure Hong Kong Squash has done a lot of work behind the scenes to make this tournament happen. Once I knew there was a possibility that this tournament could come back on the calendar, I told the PSA Board that I was 100 per cent in. A tournament like Hong Kong is very important tournament for our sport."

Hong Kong's Tsz Kwan Lau has reached his first Platinum third round after a big upset win against Scotland's Greg Lobban and he will play top seed Paul Coll, who defeated Colombia's Miguel Rodriguez in an entertaining three-game battle, eventually winning 11-7,11-9, 11-7.

"I was pretty happy, there are plenty of things I can build on for the next round, which is always nice," said Coll.

"The court played differently to how it did in practice the other day, which took me by surprise, but I actually quite liked it. I just had to trust what I was doing on there and I know what I have to do to get better, which is half the battle."

No.2 seed Diego Elias was also victorious, beating Mohamed ElSherbini to set up a last 16 battle with England's Patrick Rooney. No.4 seed Mostafa Asal was also amongst the winners, beating Mexico's Leonel Cardenas in straight games.