The opening encounter of the 2016 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open saw England’s Sarah-Jane Perry come through a brutal, 94-minute encounter with compatriot Victoria Lust to secure a place in the second round of the PSA World Series tournament during a day of high quality action in the Women’s draw.
Perry was in complete control during the opening stages of the match, opening up a two-game lead courtesy of 11-5 and 11-4 wins, but was dragged into a battle by Lust as the Canadian-based player upped her game in the third.
After pulling one game back Lust then managed to save two match balls in the fourth to force a decider but couldn’t find the killer touch, eventually losing out 10-12 to a relived Perry.
“I’m very relieved to come through in five, when you go two up and see it levelled you have to be relieved to win in the end,” said Perry.
“But I’m a bit disappointed as well. I think I had two games where I was playing nice and controlled squash early on before she started playing better. I wasn’t playing my game in the third and fourth.
“I had two matches balls in the fourth and very disappointed not to take those but I’m happy to come through in the end and I’ve a day off to recover and get ready for the next match now.”
Perry will now play American number one Amanda Sobhy for a place in the quarter-finals after the former Harvard student got off to a typically rampaging start in complete contrast to her second round opponent.
Dictating the play from the off against local hope Joey Chan, Sobhy played with confidence and moved with a spring in her step as she attacked at will to come through 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 after just 25 minutes while Raneem El Welily spent just three minutes longer on court in a rapid-fire 3-1 contest with Australian Rachael Grinham.
Her Egyptian compatriot Nour El Tayeb, who missed most of the the 2015/16 season due to a shoulder injury, got her campaign off to a winning start with victory over other Australian in the form of Donna Urquhart.
El Tayeb – who wed fellow professional and men’s top ten player Ali Farag during the summer – had to work hard for the victory though, twice coming from behind before keeping her tournament alive by clinching a tense forth game tie-break 13-11.
The 2015 U.S. Open runner-up, who has featured only once on the PSA World Tour since that event, then looked to settle into her rhythm in the decider, taking it 11-7 to set up a second round encounter with El Welily – a re-match of the US Open battle that saw Tayeb triumph at the expense of that shoulder injury.
“I’m so so relieved, I really didn’t want to lose my first match as a married woman,” said El Tayeb afterwards.
Women’s World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and Omneya Abdel Kawy completed a quartet of Egyptian winners on day one while Joshna Chinappa of India and local favourite Annie Au completed the line up of winners on an action-packed opening day.
2016 Hong Kong Open
Women’s First Round, Top Half Results:
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-8 (30m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (46m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-3, 11-6 (26m)
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (25m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (25m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-2: 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 14-16, 12-10 (94m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-2: 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 13-11, 11-7 (60m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-1: 4-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-6 (28m)
Women’s First Round, Bottom Half Draw:
 Nicol David (MAS) v [Q] Tesni Evans (WAL)
[Q] Nicolette Fernandes (GUY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v [WC] Ho Tze-Lok (HKG)
Dipika Pallikal (IND) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v [Q] Olivia Blatchford (USA)
[Q] Low Wee Wern (MAS) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Emily Whitlock (ENG) v [Q] Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[Q] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)