We're live in Hong Kong for the opening day of the 2017 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open as the world's best players kickstart their title challenges at the long-running World Series tournament.
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier and World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy are in action against Gregoire Marche and local hero Max Lee, respectively, while World Champion Nour El Sherbini will take on compatriot Nada Abbas in the women's event.
England's Laura Massaro – who became World No.1 for the first time at this tournament in 2015 – lines up against Egyptian qualifier Hania El Hammamy, with defending champion Nouran Gohar coming up against tournament wildcard Liu Tsz-Ling away from the glass court.
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Here's the SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player Order of Play
(All times are local HKT)
12:00  Olivia Blatchford (USA) v Millie Tomlinson (ENG)
13:00 [Q] Hania El Hammamy v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
14:00  Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
15:00 Paul Coll (NZL) v [Q] Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND)
17:00 Donna Urquhart (AUS) v  Victoria Lust (ENG)
18:00  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [Q] Nada Abbas (EGY)
19:00 Max Lee (HKG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
20:00 Omar Mosaad (EGY) v [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA)
Blatchford Downs Tomlinson to Reach Round Two
Olivia Blatchford (right) v Millie Tomlinson (left)
United States No.1 Olivia Blatchford moved into round two of the 2017 Hong Kong Open after a confident display from the World No.13 saw her beat England’s Millie Tomlinson in straight games.
The diminutive 24-year-old attacked well and pounced on any loose efforts from Tomlinson to take a comfortable opening game by an 11-3 margin.
Game two was initially a complete contrast though as Tomlinson found a chink in her opponent’s armour and surged into a 7-2 lead. But Blatchford dug, taking nine of the next 11 points to double her lead and she surrendered just five points in the third to claim a fifth win in six matches against Tomlinson.
“I’m still getting used to coming to tournaments and not having to qualify, for me it’s a different experience and it’s nice to be in the main draw going in and even nicer to find myself in the second round,” said Blatchford.
“It was fantastic to get on there and now I have a whole day and a half to recover and I’ll be back on Thursday.
“It was very important to start well, but unfortunately it didn’t last because in the second game I got off to a terrible start. I thought the important thing was being able to get back in it from that deficit, which gave me a lot of confidence going into the third game.
“I had to try and forget about the score and focus on playing good rallies and trying to construct rallies properly. I believe that you can feel the momentum switch and after we had a big rally for me to go back to 7-3, there was almost a slackening and a drop of intensity and I had to step up.
“I managed to step on the gas from that little feeling and I had to be super stingy and not give out any opportunities.”
Blatchford will line up against either number four seed Laura Massaro or Egyptian youngster Hania El Hammamy.
Meanwhile, Welsh World No.16 Tesni Evans earned her place in the last 16 courtesy of a 3-0 win over Dutchwoman Milou van der Heijden.
She will take on England’s Alison Waters for a place in the quarter-finals after Waters' win over Heba El Torky.
 Olivia Blatchford (USA) v Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 (29m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [Q] Milou van der Heijden (NED) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-4 (29m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Heba El Torky (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-6 (28m)
Massaro Axes El Hammamy to Advance
Laura Massaro (right) v Hania El Hammamy (left)
England’s World No.4 Laura Massaro came through in straight games against Egyptian qualifier Hania El Hammy to set up a second round meeting with US No.1 Olivia Blatchford.
Massaro and El Hammamy had met just once before on the PSA World Tour, with their solitary meeting coming in the opening round of last year’s Hong Kong Open as Massaro was forced all the way to five games by the World No.25, who at the time was just 15 years of age.
It was a battle of youth versus experience as 34-year-old Massaro moved El Hammamy around the court well with some intelligent boasting and typically accurate play into the back and front corners to go two games to the good.
El Hammamy proved difficult to break down in a nip-and-tuck third game but Massaro converted the second of two match balls to earn her place in the second round.
“I watched the match back this morning from last year and I think she took me by surprise last year,” said Massaro.
“I was 1-0 up and quite far ahead in the second game when I watched it back this morning, so it was a case of keeping my intensity really high when I did get a little bit of a lead and that’s what happened.
“Especially on that court, with it being so dead, if you go flat and your intensity drops then you can caught on your heels a little bit. I also think the experience of having played her already helped.
“One of my first coaches said to me when I was Hania’s age that the first time you play a top pro on the Tour, you can sometimes take them by surprise and a true reflection of your level is how well you do the second time.
PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) 14 november 2017
“These youngsters can catch you out and play well and they deserve it, but then you get the full respect and full attention of the player for the second time and I think that’s what Hania got today. She deserves my respect because of how well she played last time.”
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (34m)
French General Marches On
Gregory Gaultier (right) v Gregoire Marche (left)
World No.1 Gregory Gaultier was in an imperious mood as the ‘French General’ powered past French teammate Gregoire Marche to claim a 3-0 victory.
34-year-old Gaultier and 27-year-old Marche will link up for France in the Men’s World WSF Team Championships later this month but it was Gaultier who had the better of their head-to-head clash in Hong Kong, opening up a commanding lead after dominating the ’T’ area of the court.
Marche struggled to get any change from Gaultier for the majority of the match – going down 11-3 in both of the opening two games – while his best squash came in the third after a slight lapse in concentration from the older Frenchman.
He got himself to within a point of Gaultier but tinned at match ball down to send Gaultier through to the next round.
“We practice a lot together, so we know each other’s game,” said five-time runner-up Gaultier.
“Of course it’s frustrating when we play each other because we wish we could play other people. Going so far away to play each other is never nice but that’s the way the draw was done.
“It was a tough last game, he started to play better and take more opportunities. But I managed to close it out and my goal was to win, even if I was playing him.”
Meanwhile, Marwan ElShorbagy will take on Scottish qualifier Greg Lobban in round two after they managed respective wins over Omar Abdel Meguid and Zahed Mohamed.
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-9 (39m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 (38m)
[Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-1: 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 (58m)
Coll Halts Sandhu
Paul Coll (right) v Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (left)
New Zealand’s World No.9 Paul Coll recovered from a game down to defeat Indian qualifier Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu on his first ever appearance at the Hong Kong Open.
Both players were making their main draw debuts at the event, while Sandhu had progressed through qualifying to appear in his first World Series main draw since 2010.
It was their first meeting on the PSA World Tour and the man from India looked in good form in the opening stages as he hit his targets well at the front of the court to open up a one-game advantage.
PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) 14 November 2017
Coll responded by stepping up the court as Sandhu – who had been on court for over 100 minutes during qualifying – began to tire, with some long rallies sapping the energy from the World No.69’s legs as Coll turned the momentum of the match to prevail 9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-1.
“We’ve played before in a non-PSA tournament in New Zealand, so I knew what he was capable of,” said Coll, who will face World No.1 Gregory Gaultier in the next round.
“He’s got great skills and if you give him time he can put the ball away, so I knew I had to be on my game. In the first, he didn’t miss much until about 8-7, but he closed it out well.
“I felt I got in front of him a bit more in the next three and maybe he felt it a bit more physically.
“I was focusing on my game and what works for me. I stuck to my guns, tried to close the court down and tried to bring the physical aspect into it. It’s a fast court, so I thought that I could pick up a few balls and put a lot of pressure on and then use the front of the court when he was loose.
“It’s going to be a tough battle [against Gaultier], I’ve played him a few times now and it never gets easier. He looks like he has come back strong from his injury, so I’m expecting a good physical battle, a high intensity match and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Paul Coll (NZL) bt [Q] Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu (IND) 3-1: 9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-1 (44m)
Urquhart in Top Form to See Off Lust
Donna Urquhart (right) v Victoria Lust (left)
Australia’s World No.17 Donna Urquhart made it four wins in a row against England’s Victoria Lust as she cruised through to round two in Hong Kong for the first time since 2011.
All three of the pair’s previous meetings had gone the full distance to five games but today’s clash at the Hong Kong Squash Centre was a complete contrast as Urquhart blew Lust away with a virtuoso performance.
The 30-year-old from Yamba was on fire early on as she dropped just a single point in a five-minute opening game, while the second game was also a one-sided affair as she honed in on victory.
Lust improved in the third as she finally began to find her length to ease some of the pressure Urquhart was exerting on her, but the woman from Australia held her nerve to close out the win by an 11-1, 11-5, 11-9 scoreline and she will take on either World No.1 Nour El Sherbini or Egyptian qualifier Nada Abbas in the next round.
“It can be a bit of a tricky court, so to come out there feeling confident and seeing the ball well is a good feeling because the worst thing that can happen on that court is that you feel that you can’t see it and your confidence can go downhill pretty quickly,” said Urquhart.
“I was just trying to stay really positive today and it went really well. I think I maybe tensed up a little bit in the third game but I managed to keep it together just enough.
“Every time we’ve played it’s been brutal and really close and we’re pretty evenly matches, so even when I won the first game comfortably I was thinking that she was going to come back at me.
“I’m really pleased I managed to stay on top for three games.”
Donna Urquhart (AUS) bt  Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-0: 11-1, 11-5, 11-9 (22m)
El Sherbini Eases to Victory Against Abbas
Nour El Sherbini (left) v Nada Abbas (right)
World Champion Nour El Sherbini defeated 17-year-old compatriot Nada Abbas in just 16 minutes to book her second round berth against Australian Donna Urquhart.
Egypt’s Abbas caused one of the biggest shocks of the 2016/17 season when she sent World No.5 Nouran Gohar crashing out of March’s British Open in round one, but El Sherbini ensured that she wouldn’t follow the same way as Gohar as she dictated the tempo and controlled the flow of the match to take a quick-fire 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 victory.
“I’m really pleased, a 16-minute match is really short,” said El Sherbini.
“Nada is one of the youngest players and she’s very good and on the way up. I was trying to kill everything quickly and play my game instead of hers.
“It will be a tough match against Donna, I’ve not played her in a long time and I’m just looking forward to it and it’s going to be a tough one.”
Defending champion Gohar will join El Sherbini in the next round after she saw off tournament wildcard Liu Tsz-Ling 3-0 in 21 minutes and she will take on India’s Joshna Chinappa, who required five games to beat Canadian qualifier Hollie Naughton.
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [Q] Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 (16m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [WC] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-8, 11-6 (21m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [Q] Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-2: 11-5, 8-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6 (46m)
ElShorbagy Axes Home Hero Lee as Abouelghar Upsets Willstrop
Mohamed ElShorbagy (left) v Max Lee (right)
World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy vanquished local hero Max Lee after the Egyptian powerhouse prevailed in the tie-break of a fascinating encounter at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.
Their campaigns at the 2016 edition of the tournament contrasted heavily, with Lee reaching a maiden World Series semi-final, while ElShorbagy suffered a surprise upset at the hands of Cameron Pilley in round two.
ElShorbagy had won five of their six meetings coming into the match and he controlled the pace in the early stages to take the opening game but Lee, buoyed by partizan home support, levelled after just dropping just two points in the second courtesy of a number of errors from the racket of the Egyptian player.
That is a ridiculous drop from Max Lee!!! What a touch from the man from Hong Kong pic.twitter.com/PQZROujg2L— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) 14 November 2017
The duo then took a further game apiece, both on tie-breaks, but Lee’s movement slowed considerably as cramp began to take hold and ElShorbagy went in for the kill to close out the win by an 11-7, 2-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 margin.
“I think Max played well, it was always going to be difficult playing him on his home court,” said ElShorbagy.
“I felt a little flat mentally, but it was the perfect first round to sharpen me up. This is my fifth tournament in a row and I’ve played more matches then anyone else so far this season but these are the kinds of situations you want to be in, you want to challenge yourself in these kind of situations and I was up to that challenge.
“I played a very good fifth game, it was a very tricky match and I used all of my experience.”
Meanwhile, former World No.1 James Willstrop exited the event at the second round stage after the 34-year-old fell to Egypt’s World No.13 Mohamed Abouelghar.
Abouelghar was impressive against the Yorkshireman as he moved him around all four corners of the court, leaving Willstrop unable to impose his usually peerless accuracy on the match as he went down by an 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 scoreline.
“I’ve played with James three times and the first time [in Qatar] he wasn’t at his best because he had just returned from a hip injury, so I just got away with it,” said Abouelghar.
“I really admire his game and admire him as a player. I’ve learned a lot from him, I always watch him to learn and today I just had to execute my game plan and play with a slower pace because I know he controls the game very well.
“To beat James in three games is huge for me.”
Simon Rösner awaits Abouelghar after he saw off France's Mathieu Castagnet
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-2: 11-7, 2-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 (68m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt  James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-9, 11-9 (38m)
Simon Rösner (GER) bt Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) 3-1: 11-4, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8 (51m)
Serme Upsets Mosaad to Reach Round Two
Camille Serme (right) v Omar Mosaad (left)
French qualifier Lucas Serme claimed a big win over former World No.3 Omar Mosaad to reach the second round of a PSA World Series tournament for the first time since 2015.
The World No.45 beat Ho Ka Hei and Iker Pajares Bernabeu in qualification to reach the main draw and he made a dream start against Mosaad, going 7-1 up until ‘The Hammer of Thor’ put together some well-constructed rallied to come back to within a point of the Frenchman.
Some impressive finishes from Serme saw him edge out the first game though, but he was pegged back by Mosaad in the second, before reasserting himself to take the third after coming back from 9-7 down.
A flurry of tins from Serme towards the back end of the fourth game saw Mosaad take the match into a fifth but the World No.20 was visibly tired and a mature display from 25-year-old Serme saw him close out the game to claim his first ever win over Mosaad at the third attempt.
“I’m super pleased,” said Serme.
“We played a couple of years ago here when he was at his peak. He had just been in the World Championship final and I lost by three points, so I was thinking of that match and thought that I could do a bit better this time.
“In that fourth game, I had a really bad start because of a drop in focus. It shows that if you make a couple of mistakes because you’re not thinking straight or your relaxing, then the guy is going to take extra points against you that are going to count in the end.
“When you get into a fifth game you have to make every point count from the beginning and have to play at 100 per cent. You can’t just play a simple ball and hope for the best, you have to put some intention behind it and really focus on what you want to do.
“The body is getting tired, so the mental side of you has to take over.”
[Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5 (77m)