Welcome to ‘Talking Points’ where we take a look back at the biggest moments on the PSA World Tour over the past month.
December saw 2015 rounded off in style with the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open taking centre stage. With new World No.1’s being crowned across both the Men’s and Women’s events, the return of a Hong Kong favourite and some scintillating shocks being par for the course throughout the tournament, the Hong Kong Open really was the perfect way to end a superb year of top class squash action.
Elshorbagy Recovers from World Champs Disappointment to Retain Hong Kong Crown
Egypt’s Mohamed Elshorbagy lifted his second successive Hong Kong Open title in impressive style, dropping just a solitary game throughout the event in a series of devastating displays – ensuring that he will overtake Gregory Gaultier to reclaim the World No.1 spot in the New Year.
The 24-year-old from Alexandria was reeling from a shock third round exit to James Willstrop in the PSA Men’s World Championship just a fortnight previously which threatened to derail his recent good form.
However, Elshorbagy showed no signs of a hangover from that event and, his first round match against Peter Barker aside, swept past his opponents while barely breaking his stride.
Victory against Omar Mosaad in the last four put him up against tournament surprise package Cameron Pilley, who had already caused two big upsets, in the final. Elshorbagy remained unfazed though and stormed to victory to defend his title and take a second PSA World Series title on the bounce after his triumph at last month’s Qatar Classic.
David is Hong Kong Queen Yet Again
Nicol David came up with a big performance in the final of the Hong Kong Open that embodied the spirit and dedication that saw her lead the Women’s World Rankings for an unprecedented nine-years in addition to making her a national icon.
After falling to third in the World Rankings and without a title since February, David was suffering arguably her worst run of form since she established herself as one of the game’s greatest players.
The Malaysian superstar bounced back in terrific fashion in Hong Kong though and failed to lose a single game as she powered to an incredible 10th consecutive Hong Kong Open title – beating England No.1 Laura Massaro in the final to result in emotional scenes for David.
Massaro Makes History to Claim Top Spot
While she may have been prevented from completing a hat-trick of PSA World Series wins, Laura Massaro ’s Hong Kong Open campaign was still a memorable one for the 32-year-old as her runner-up finish there ensured that she will become the new Women’s World No.1 come January 2016’s rankings – making her the first Englishwoman in over 11 years to hold that particular distinction.
After already lifting the Delaware Investments US Open and Qatar Classic titles, Massaro had a third PSA World Series final in her sights when she went up against the current incumbent of the World No.1 spot, Raneem El Welily in the last four.
She took the Egyptian apart in a stunning display and, despite losing out to David in the final, retains her lead in the PSA Road to Dubai Standings.
Pilley Powers to Maiden World Series Final
Cameron Pilley has endured a mixed year that has seen him drop out of the world’s top 20 in addition to losing his status as Australia’s number one ranked player to compatriot Ryan Cuskelly.
The Yamba-born 33-year-old produced some of his best ever form at the Hong Kong Open though and scored superb scalps over both World Champion Gregory Gaultier and former World No.1 Nick Matthew to reach his first ever PSA World Series final.
Pilley, who admitted that becoming the Australian No.2 inspired his fine run in Hong Kong, took out both Gaultier and Matthew in straight games which demonstrated his potential to be a strong competitor at some of the PSA World Tour’s biggest tournaments. He eventually missed out on the title to Mohamed Elshorbagy but will certainly be one of the players to watch in next month’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.
El Welily Approaching Her Best After Tough Run
Raneem El Welily is destined to lose her position at the summit of the World Rankings to Laura Massaro next month but she is sure to take heart from some positive performances at the Hong Kong Open.
The Egyptian shot-making sensation swept to victories over Siyoli Waters and Low Wee Wern with ease before navigating a potential banana skin tie against charismatic United States player Amanda Sobhy in the quarter-final.
She fell short to Massaro in the last four but, given that she had bowed out at the first hurdle of the Qatar Classic in her last PSA World Series appearance, El Welily will be confident of an upturn in form come the New Year.