Day FIVE : Quarter-Finals
Quarters: Perry topples Sherbini as Rosner wins megamatch
The quarter-finals started with a massive upset as England’s Sarah-Jane Perry toppled defending champion Nour El Sherbini in five games, a result which handed the world #1 spot to Raneem El Welily.
Welily despatched home hope Joey Chan and faces fellow Egyptian Nouran Gohar, who overcame Camille Serme in a five game upset. Perry meets Joelle King in a repeat of their Commonwealth Games final after the Kiwi upset third seed Nour El Tayeb in straight games.
Three out of four upsets in the women’s then, but although the men’s matches all went to seeding, that hides a lot of drama – defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy came from a game down to beat Paul Coll, and in the semis faces Tarek Momen, who survived an 80-minute four battle with Mohamed Abouelghar.
Second seed Ali Farag also came from a game down and also won 3-1 in 80 minutes plus, against Karim Abdel Gawad, and now meets Germany’s Simon Rosner who survived an epic 99-minute battle with Miguel Rodriguez.[/su_box]
Perry dethrones Sherbini
What a start to the day as Sarah-Jane Perry, appearing in her first HK quarter-final – pulled off a massive upset, beating defending champion and world #1 Nour El Sherbini in five games.
Sherbini led 2-1 and 5-1 in the fourth, but Perry fought back to claim a massive scalp, one which means that Raneem El Welily will be world #1 come December.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said SJ. “It was one of those where I just tried to get into the zone and just play how I could and get on with my shots. Nour is an amazing player, she’s the World No.1 going into the match and she’s earned that. I’ve beaten her before but not in a best of five and so to beat her, 3-2, I’m really pleased.”
King downs Tayeb
The second match produced another upset – and another Egyptian defeat – as Joelle King reached her first HK semi-final with a strait-game win over third seed Nour El Tayeb.
King always seemed to have the edge, and the lead, and pulled away in the third with a series of driven winners that Tayeb simply couldn’t cope with.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong there,” said a delighted Joelle. “Nour and I were No.3 and No.4 in the world for a long time and we have had some epic battles and I have been on the receiving end of some losses against her, so it was nice to get the win and most of all come out and play some good squash.”
Gohar gets past Serme
Nouran Gohar and Camille Serme did the unthinkable in the last two years, they beat Nicol David in Hong Kong, and today they met for a place in the semi-finals.
They shared the first four games, Gohar trying to impose her power game and Serme trying to neutralise it and exert her own control. But it was all the Egyptian in the fifth as she advanced to the semis.
“I’m very pleased,” said Nouran. “I think it’s my first semi-final in a platinum event since Saudi, which is a year back, so I’m really pleased with it. Every time we play against each other it is a 3-2 and it’s always very tough.
“Winning your first World Series is massive, so winning it here a few years ago means I always have good vibes coming here. I always enjoy playing in front of this crowd and in Asia. I have two titles in Macau and here and did well in China, so Asia is my place.”
Welily ends HK hopes
It was always a tough ask of Joey Chan to carry Hong Hong hopes into the arena against World Champion and soon to be world #1 Raneem El Welily. It may be her 16th successive HK Open but this was her biggest challenge, and it told in the first game as she was simply overwhelmed by the Egyptian.
Welily opened up a big lead in the second too, but Joey started to find her feet, closed right up and continued to compete through the second and third games. Raneem won, of course, but Joey can feel she gave the world’s best a run for her money.
“I’m really pleased with the way I played,” said Raneem. “I’m very happy to be through in three-games and another semi-final for me in Hong Kong, it’s a good place for me here.
“I was prepared for the big crowd, they were fair and cheered me on a few points as well. It’s always good to play in front of a packed crowd and it was a good atmosphere today.
“In my head I always thought it was going to be a match between me and Nour [El Sherbini] that decided who would be World No.1. I didn’t actually have the scenario in my head that either of us could lose early.
“As much as I am sad for her loss today, but Sarah-Jane Perry played really well today and I’m really happy to be back at World No.1 but I’m trying not to think about that too much at the moment because I’m still in the tournament
ElShorbagy recovers to stop Coll
When Paul Coll – playing in his first HK quarter-final – took the opening game against defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy, it seemed that it might be a bad day for the top seeds. B
ut the World #1 buckled down and took control of the next tree games to see off the danger – and to keep his unbeaten record over the Kiwi.
“He started really well and aggressive,” said Mohamed. “He made the rallies very long and when you lose the first time you have to focus and make sure that I didn’t make any mistakes.
“I love it here, I’ve put my name on that trophy three times and I would love to get my name on it again. It’s not going to be easy, there are a lot of players playing so well right now, I’m just trying to stay consistent.”
Momen comes through a marathon
Eighty-plus minutes for four games, yes this was an all-Egyptian marathon as Tarek Momen and Mohamed Abouelghar battled it out.
There was nothing between them for three and a half games, but it was Momen who, aided by some unforced errors from Abou, who pulled clear to seal the win and reach his second HK semi-final in his 8th consecutive appearance here.
“I knew it would be really difficult,” said Tarek, “he is one of the top contenders for every tournament. He attacks so well and it’s hard to deal with on a good day, so I’m pleased to win in four games today and. I’m very happy to be in the semi-final.
“Playing Mohamed [ElShorbagy] is always going to be tough. I know it will be a difficult match but I take this as a challenge. I like to explore myself every time I play against the top guys, I just want to play my game and see how it goes.”
Rosner and Rodriguez in magnificent marathon
What a match this was, a 99-minute epic that had everything, including the kitchen sinks tat Simon Rosner and Miguel Rodriguez were throwing at each other!
Rosner got the better of a tight first game but Rodriguez took the second comfortably to level. The third and fourth were shared, setting the scene for an epic – 39 minute – decider.
Brutal rallies, frantic exchanges, plenty of involvement from match and video referees, it had it all. Long story short, Rosner led 7-4 but Miguel got to 10-9 and had three match balls before Simon got his first, then on Simon’s fourth a Miguel error at the end of another frantic rally signalled the end of an epic. Watch the highlights.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Simon.
“It was a really good match from both of us, especially the fifth game – that’s one of the best games I’ve ever played. We probably both played our best squash in the fifth game so that made it very interesting. I think it was a bit of luck and maybe I was able to play those very big points a tiny bit better.
“It was amazing playing in front of that crowd. It was a pretty packed house today and it’s always amazing for us to play in front of a crowd like that. It was such a close match and for the spectators that’s good and for us it makes it more challenging and creates more spirit.”
Farag downs Gawad
Another 80+ minute three-one men’s match as Ali Farag continued his run of wins against compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad. Gawad sneaked the first, and after Farag had taken the next two games he held a good lead in the fourth.
But Farag fought back, taking the match on a referee’s call of “down” on Gawad’s shot. Gawad wasn’t happy, but Farag is in the semis.
“He was very sharp at the beginning and I wasn’t as much,” said Ali. “Due to his extreme accuracy I was always on the back foot but thanks to Nour [El Tayeb] in my corner, she was always pushing me and encouraged me to hit the ball a bit harder and push him into the back corners and I’m glad it worked.
“I’m so happy to be through today and looking forward to tomorrow’s match against Simon. I know he will put up another big fight tomorrow but hopefully I can go one step further than last year.”
Mini-Gallery – lots more in the full gallery …