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Ramy Ashour

Hong Kong Open: Day Two - As it Happens

Day two of the 2017 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open takes place today as defending champion Ramy Ashour makes his first World Series appearance of the season.

'The Artist' goes up against tournament wildcard Leo Au, while World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and the in-form Ali Farag are also in action against Cesar Salazar and Tom Richards, respectively.

In the women's event, 10-time winner Nicol David plays Canadian qualifier Danielle Letourneau, with World No.2 Raneem El Welily also starring against England's Fiona Moverley.

You can watch LIVE coverage on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

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Here's the SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player Order of Play
(All times are local HKT)
12:00 [13] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND)
13:00 Fiona Moverley (ENG) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)
14:00 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER)
15:00 Cesar Salazar (MEX) v [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
17:00 [Q] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) v [5] Nicol David (MAS)
18:00 [9] Annie Au (HKG) v [Q] Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG)
19:00 Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [WC] Leo Au (HKG)
20:00 [4] Ali Farag (EGY) v [Q] Tom Richards (ENG)

El Tayeb Blitzes Past Pallikal Karthik as King Survives Against Shahin

Nour El Tayeb (right) v Dipika Pallikal Karthik (left)

Egyptian World No.8 Nour El Tayeb made short work of India’s Dipika Pallikal Karthik as she cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory in just 17 minutes to reach the second round.

El Tayeb – the current leader on the PSA Women’s World Series Standings after winning a maiden World Series title at last month’s U.S. Open – was rarely troubled in the opening two games as she caught Pallikal Karthik off guard time and time again with some clever boasts and tight width on her shots.

Pallikal Karthik improved in the third game as she was finally able to string a succession of points together but El Tayeb was just too strong for her as she closed out an 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 margin to move through to the second round, where she could face the woman she beat in the U.S. Open final – World No.2 Raneem El Welily – with El Welily set to face England’s Fiona Moverley later today.

New Zealand’s World No.9 Joelle King also booked her place in the second round after she overcame Egyptian qualifier Nadine Shahin.

The 29-year-old from Cambridge twice went a game behind but her experience came to the fore in the decider as the in-form Kiwi put in a composed finish to the game to wrap up an 7-11, 11-1, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4 victory.

“She was coming at me at 100mph and all credit to her, she played really well throughout the whole match,” said King.
“I guess a little bit of experience helped in the end being the senior player. I wasn't feeling that comfortable out there but I managed to relax at the end of the fourth and I started thinking about getting in front and playing my game and it worked. I'm happy to come through in five and play another day tomorrow.
“Coming into the start of the season, no one knows where anyone is at and when you get a few results on the board, you put a little bit of pressure on yourself to keep playing well.

“Today at the start I was a little bit off and she came out firing, so I had to really dig deep and having a few good results of late helps give you the confidence to believe in your game even when you're down.”

King will face either World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry or World No.31 Coline Aumard in the next round.

[13] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-8 (17m)
[10] Joelle King (NZL) bt [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-1, 10-12, 11-9, 11-4 (49m)

El Welily Comes Through Tight Clash With Moverley

Raneem El Welily (right) v Fiona Moverley (left)

Egyptian World No.2 Raneem El Welily defeated England’s Fiona Moverley to set up mouthwatering second round clash with compatriot Nour El Tayeb in a repeat of last month’s U.S. Open final clash.

El Welily and Moverley had met just once before on the PSA World Tour, with El Welily taking a comfortable 3-0 win over the World No.24 in March’s British Open.

But the World Championship runner-up was made to work hard for her win in Hong Kong, winning all three games by just a two-point margin.

El Welily took the ball early and won a number of points off her boasts but she found it hard to put the games to bed, with a number of tins letting Moverley back into each game as El Welily surrendered five game balls in the second game and then three match balls in the third.

Moverley held a game ball herself in each of the second and third games as she pushed El Welily hard but the woman from Egypt held her nerve at the crucial moments to emerge the winner by an 11-9, 14-12, 14-12 scoreline.

“She made the errors today, I made some errors as well, but at the crucial points she made the errors,” said El Welily.

“I tried to be more patient and it made a difference in the tie-breaks. I was a bit nervous because it was the first match of the tournament, it was a different court, so I was trying to adapt to it. I had to relax and just go for it.

“I spoke to a few people about my match with Nour [in the U.S. Open] and got some advice and new tactics, so I hope they’re going to work.”

England's World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry also moved through to the second round after beating France's Coline Aumard and she will face New Zealand's Joelle King for a place in the quarter-finals.

[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Fiona Moverley (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 14-12, 14-12 (35m)

Pistol Pilley Halts Kandra While Fellow Aussie Cuskelly Progresses

Cameron Pilley (right) v Raphael Kandra (left)

2015 runner-up Cameron Pilley was in fine fettle as he saw off the in-form German qualifier Raphael Kandra in straight games.

Kandra currently sits at a career-high World Ranking of No.41 and he has claimed a number of notable scalps so far this season, including a surprise win over Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller in the qualifying rounds, while he came within a whisker of beating three-time World Champion Nick Matthew earlier this month in Qatar.

Pilley settled well though and was in control for the majority of the match as he closed out the win by an 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 margin to reach round two.

“I did my homework on him,” said Pilley.

“We played at the Tournament of Champions earlier this year and it was the same kind of match. It was a testing first game, we were both hitting some winners and both hitting some errors, so it was a bit edgy from both of us, especially on that court.

“I watched some videos of his previous games and I knew he was in form, so I was even more alert and I was bang up for it because he almost beat Nick in Qatar. Even when I had the lead in the third, I kept my head down and made sure that every rally counted.”

Pilley has been impressive at the Hong Kong Open in recent years, with a superb performance seeing him beat World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy in the second round last season and the Australian No.2 puts his success down to the enjoyment he gets from travelling to Hong Kong.

“It’s one of my favourite cities in the world, it’s a good climate, there’s great good, the people are friendly and it’s easy to get around,” he said.

“I feel really relaxed here, and if you’re relaxed off court and enjoying yourself then it transfers over to your game. I think that’s why I’ve had some good results here. I’ve stayed with a friend, Brian MacDougall, for the past five years and I love the atmosphere and feeling of being in Hong Kong.”

Pilley will go up against either World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad or Mexican Cesar Salazar in the next round, while he will be joined there by compatriot and last year’s semi-finalist Ryan Cuskelly, who saw off Adrian Waller.

Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-8, 11-6, 11-4 (36m)
Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (47m)

World Champ Gawad Moves Past Salazar

Karim Abdel Gawad (left) v Cesar Salazar (right)

2016 runner-up Karim Abdel Gawad overcame Mexican World No.17 Cesar Salazar in an entertaining four-game affair to set up a second round meeting with Australian No.2 Cameron Pilley.

Gawad, the reigning World Champion, shot out of the traps to take a 5-0 lead in the opening game, ultimately taking it 11-7 before some superb attacking squash from both players ensured that game two went down to the wire, with Gawad doubling his lead by prevailing 11-9.

The frantic retrieving and high-paced rallies continued into the third and Salazar finally got the better of the World No.2 as he converted a game ball after a stunning rally that saw him dive for the ball in desperation on three occasions before a tinned effort from Gawad brought an end to the game.

But Gawad was not to be denied and the 26-year-old triumphed in a quick-fire fourth game to seal his place in the next round of the World Series tournament.

A poor run of form has seen the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ fail to reach the quarter-finals of both the Hong Kong Open and Qatar Classic this season and he admits that a win today was crucial for his confidence.

“It was a very important match for me today and I really wanted to regain some of my confidence,” said Gawad.

“I’m glad I won today and got through to the next round. Hopefully I’ll keep this run going and I’ll do well tomorrow against a tough opponent.

“It was my first ever World Series final last year, so it was a very special tournament for me and it’s special to be here again. Hopefully this year I can get an even better result. I’ll take it step-by-step and can improve on last year.”

Gawad's compatriot Tarek Momen is also through after he defeated Scotland's Alan Clyne.

[2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5 (44m)
[7] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 11-2, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 (43m)

David Defeats Tenacious Letourneau as Chan Upsets Whitlock

Nicol David (left) v Danielle Letourneau (right)

Legendary Malaysian Nicol David kickstarted her bid to win an incredible 11th Hong Kong Open title with a 3-1 victory over Canadian qualifier Danielle Letourneau.

Crowd favourite David had gone a sensational 53 matches unbeaten at the tournament until last year’s semi-final defeat to World No.5 Nouran Gohar and she began well against Letourneau, storming to an 11-2 victory in the opening game before doubling her lead in the second.

World No.45 Letourneau – who is ranked 39 places below David and was making her maiden World Series main draw appearance – was more aggressive in the third game as she made life harder for David, putting the ball in the back corners and raising her accuracy in the front of the court to take a game against the eight-time World Champion.

David kept her composure though in the fourth and the experienced 34-year-old closed it out for the loss of three points to set up a meeting with one of Hong Kong duo Annie Au or Tong Tsz-Wing – with Au ending a eight-year, 17-match losing streak against David in their last meeting in October’s U.S. Open.

“I’ve seen her play previously in the World Team Championships and she has improved a lot since then,” said David.

“It was a really good match, she played well and in that third game I think she found her angles and I wasn’t expecting it. My shots weren’t as tight as I wanted them to be and I needed to sharpen up at the end.

“I lost a bit of my depth during the match so in the end I focused on putting the pressure on from the start and she made a few mistakes. I put my game plan together and it came together well.

“It’s great to be back here, Hong Kong is a special place for me, there are a lot of memorable moments here, I won my first World Championship title here and there’s a great vibe.

“There are a lot of familiar faces and good memories here, so I always come in with a good buzz when I step on the glass court. So many matches have been played here and I always have fond memories of this tournament.”

Away from the glass court, Hong Kong No.2 Joey Chan scalped World No.12 Emily Whitlock to reach the second round here for the first time since 2014.

The 29-year-old countered Whitlock superbly and gave the Englishwoman very little chance to attack as she rose to an 11-9, 11-2, 11-9 in 34 minutes to set up a second round clash with either World No.3 Camille Serme or Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold.

“I’m really happy with my performance today because I was very consistent,” said Chan.

“I had to be very stable on court and get in front of Emily. This is what I planned and I executed it quite well because she’s really good at lifting the ball and defending, so I had to be patient and get ready for the volleys.

“It’s the Hong Kong Open, it’s a World Series event and the crowd was backing me up. I love the atmosphere here and hopefully I can play a good match tomorrow.”

[5] Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-1: 11-2, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3 (30m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt [12] Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-2, 11-9 (34m)

Annie Au Topples Tong in all-Hong Kong Clash

Annie Au (right) v Tong Tsz-Wing (left)

Hong Kong No.1 Annie Au overcame compatriot Tong Tsz-Wing in front of their home crowd to move through to round two – where she will face 10-time winner Nicol David as she aims for a repeat of her superb victory over the eight-time World Champion during last month’s U.S. Open.

Au ended an eight-year, 16-match losing streak against the Malaysian in Philadelphia and, after beating Tong by an 13-11, 11-9, 11-3 margin, will have the opportunity to claim back-to-back wins against her for the first time.

“I was really pleased to win the first two games because they were really close,” said Au.

“I think Tong played really well today and I wasn’t really in the moment for the first two games because I wasn’t moving very well. In the third game, I managed to come back and was more attacking.

“I tried to volley as much as I could [in the third game] to put her under more pressure and it worked well.

“I think I have to try my best [against David] because she has been World Champion and Hong Kong Open champion so many times before, so I need to relax and see whether I can have a good time against her in Hong Kong this year.”

Also through to the next round is World No.3 Camille Serme after she eased past Malaysian qualifier Rachel Arnold in just 19 minutes. Serme, the 2012 runner-up, will play Hong Kong’s Joey Chan for a place in the last eight.

[9] Annie Au (HKG) bt [Q] Tong Tsz-Wing (HKG) 3-0: 13-11, 11-9, 11-3 (29m)
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) bt [Q] Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-1, 11-0, 11-3 (19m)

Wildcard Au Stuns Defending Champion Ashour

Tournament wildcard Leo Au caused one of the biggest shocks in the history of the Hong Kong Open after stunning defending champion Ramy Ashour to send the three-time World Champion crashing out at the first hurdle.

Buoyed by his home crowd, Au was sublime as he put Ashour under constant pressure to come back from a first game defeat, going match ball up in the fourth to stand on the verge of a incredible upset.

Ashour came out on top in the crucial points though to draw level but a focused and committed display from World No.26 Au in the decider saw him push ahead from 4-4 to take seven points in a row, completing a huge scalp to reach round two for the first time in his career.

“I feel amazing because I didn’t expect much before the match,” said Au.

“When I lost that match ball, I thought I had lost the match.

“I thought that he would be more focused in the fifth game and there would be more pressure on me. It was a mistake to lose that match point, but I’m happy to win in front of my home crowd because this is my first time getting to the second round.”

‘The Artist’ was making his first appearance since September after suffering with illness, but he hit the ground running as he took the opening game for the loss of six points.

Errors then began to come from the racket of the Egyptian maverick in the second and third games as Au was able to contain Ashour, with the former World No.1s frustrations growing as the match wore on.

After conceding the second and third games, Ashour hung on for dear life against Au, who forced the 30-year-old into some big movements around court. He held his nerve though to come back from match ball down in the fourth, only to see a resurgent Au dig in and take the first four points in the decider.

Ashour steadied the ship to come back to 4-4, but the momentum shifted back in Au’s favour as the man from Hong Kong rattled off seven points in a row against a fatigued Ashour to wrap up the biggest win of his career.

Au will play either the in-form Ali Farag or England’s Tom Richards for a place in the quarter-finals.

Egypt’s Fares Dessouky, meanwhile, saw off Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan in straight games and he will play either Declan James or Saurav Ghosal.

[WC] Leo Au (HKG) bt Ramy Ashour (EGY) 3-2: 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-4 (74m)
[8] Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (28m)

Farag Defeats Richards to Reach Round Two

Egypt’s World No.4 Ali Farag came up against tough opposition in England’s Tom Richards as day two came to a close, with the man from Cairo taking it 11-2, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7 in 31 minutes.

The first game was a procession for Farag as he romped to a one-game lead but Richards came back with a vengeance as the World No.38 hit a plethora of winners to draw level.

Richards’ resistance continued into the third game as he pushed Farag hard but the Harvard-graduate forced the win over the line courtesy of a tie-break, while he held firm in the fourth to seal his place in round two.

Up next for Farag is a meeting with tournament wildcard Leo Au, who stunned 2016 winner Ramy Ashour earlier today.

“I’m delighted, it’s not easy to be the last one on against Tom on a court like this, it suits his gameplan quite well,” said Farag.

“He likes to hit a lot of angles and this court is quite fast at the front wall, so it’s not easy to stick to the wall. I think he played pretty well and at 1-1 and 10-10 in the third, it could have gone either way.

“It was a crucial game to win. I had to put the ball back deep in the court and I wasn’t successful doing that in the second. I was a bit better in the third and I think I found my rhythm in the fourth.

“Leo will be playing in front of his home crowd, he seems to be going up in different gears and I’m sure it’s going to be very tough and I’m looking forward to it.”

English qualifier Declan James was also in fine form to overcome Saurav Ghosal and he will line up against Egypt’s Fares Dessouky for a place in the last eight.

[4] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [Q] Tom Richards (ENG) 3-1: 11-2, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7 (31m)
[Q] Declan James (ENG) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-9 (49m)

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