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Raneem El Welily (right) v Fiona Moverley (left) on day two

Hong Kong Open: Day Three - As it Happens

The 2017 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open continues today with some intriguing second round battles in store at the Hong Kong Squash Centre.

24 hours after stunning defending champion Ramy Ashour in one of the tournament's biggest ever upsets, tournament wildcard Leo will take on the in-form Ali Farag as he looks to cause another shock result.

World No.1 Gregory Gaultier is also in action against World No.9 Paul Coll, while World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy takes on French qualifier Lucas Serme.

World No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy is also in action against French qualifier Lucas Serme, while World No.1 Gregory ga

Hong Kong No.1 Annie Au will hope to make it two in a row when she takes on 10-time winner Nicol David, with World Champion Nour El Sherbini, World No.2 Raneem El Welily and England's Laura Massaro also taking to court today.

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 [16] Olivia Blatchford (USA) v [4] Laura Massaro (ENG)
13:00 [1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Donna Urquhart (AUS)
14:00 [1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Paul Coll (NZL)
15:00 [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) v [3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
17:00 [13] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [2] Raneem El Welily (EGY)
18:00 [9] Annie Au (HKG) v [5] Nicol David (MAS)
19:00 Cameron Pilley (AUS) v [2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
20:00 [4] Ali Farag (EGY) v [WC] Leo Au (HKG)

Massaro Comes Through Against Blatchford to Reach Quarter-Finals

Laura Massaro (left) v Olivia Blatchford (right)

England’s World No.4 Laura Massaro came through a tricky tie with United States No.1 Olivia Blatchford to book her place in the last eight of the Hong Kong Open courtesy of a 3-1 victory.

The 34-year-old had only dropped a solitary game against Blatchford in their four previous meetings but she was under the cosh for large periods of the match as the American attacked well and made life difficult for the former Word No.1.

With the scores tied at one game apiece, Blatchford held a game ball in the third but, on the next point, Massaro got a fortunate nick off the side wall when returning serve to level the scores and that point proved crucial as she moved on to take that game and the fourth to reach an eighth quarter-final in Hong Kong.

“The third game was really tight the whole way and then she had that game ball at 10-9,” said Massaro.

“I got a couple of lucky bounces in the back corners, but I was happy because it meant that my balls were in the right area. I felt like I’d been missing my targets for the majority of the match, so although it was a lucky bounce, it couldn’t have been a lucky bounce if it hadn’t been in that area.

“I was happy to be able to come off with that game. It was probably a little bit lucky if nothing else and I really tried to capitalise on that in the fourth game. We changed the ball after the second game and it was a little bit fast, so I tried to use that to my advantage a little bit more and use my power.

“I’ve been here a heck of a lot over the years, there have been some really good highs, such as getting to World No.1 here, but there have been some lows as well. Some of my best and worst memories are here, but it’s good to be back in the quarter-finals.”

She will face World No.16 Tesni Evans in the last eight after Evans claimed a big win over England’s Alison Waters to become the first Welsh woman ever to reach a World Series quarter-final.

Evans said: “I was looking forward to today because I wanted to make the quarter-finals at least once.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the result, I just wanted to play well, leave everything out there and it came off. It gives you so much confidence [beating a top 10 player] because we train every day and work really hard.

“It will be a tough match [against Massaro] tomorrow. She’s really good and very strong mentally, so I’ll have to be just have strong mentally tomorrow and I’ll give it my all again.”

[4] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [16] Olivia Blatchford (USA) 3-1: 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5 (42m)
[14] Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [8] Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 12-10, 11-9 (44m)

El Sherbini Dispatches Urquhart to Set up Gohar Clash

Nour El Sherbini (left) v Donna Urquhart (right)

World No.1 Nour El Sherbini will meet fellow Egyptian Nouran Gohar in the quarter-finals after they defeated Australia’s Donna Urquhart and India’s Joshna Chinappa, respectively.

El Sherbini and Urquhart were meeting for the fifth time on the PSA World Tour and the 36-minute match featured attacking squash from both players, with El Sherbini – a semi-finalist at last year’s event – taking the ball in short particularly well as she motored away from the mid-point of the opening game to go ahead.

It was Urquhart’s turn to attack at the front in game two as the World No.17 capitalised on some errors from El Sherbini to restore parity.

But El Sherbini picked up the pace in the final two games and pushed Urquhart into the back corners to close out an 11-6, 10-12, 11-3, 11-5 victory.

“Donna was playing well and I haven’t played her for a long time, it’s been almost a year now,” said El Sherbini.

“It was close the whole way and I lost some focus in the second game, I tried some shots at the wrong time, but I stuck to my gameplan in the last two games and it worked.

“I’m feeling good, I think I’m playing well and my game is improving. I’ve really been looking forward to this tournament and hopefully I can keep playing like this.”

Defending champion Gohar, meanwhile, was made to work hard for her victory over Chinappa as the Indian No.1 forced her all the way to five games, where Gohar powered through to an 11-1 victory to close out the win in 50 minutes.

[1] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 3-1: 11-6, 10-12, 11-3, 11-5 (36m)
[7] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt [11] Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-2: 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-1 (50m)

Gaultier Comes Through Huge Battle With Coll

Gregory Gaultier (right) v Paul Coll (left)

World No.1 Gregory Gaultier edged a tightly contested battle with Kiwi World No.9 Paul Coll to earn his place in the last eight, despite an out-of-sorts display from the Frenchman at times.

The 34-year-old, who returned from an ankle injury earlier this month at the Qatar Classic, struggled to get his game going for long periods of the match, while his traditionally exceptional movement was lacking as he picked up just two points during a one-sided first game.

The ‘French General’ was more like his usual self in the second game to draw level, but the errors returned in the third as a composed performance from Coll saw the 25-year-old restore his lead.

Game four saw the performance levels from both players fluctuate, with Gaultier looking strong as he built up a 5-2 lead, until a stroke given against him for blocking saw him lose his head to let Coll back into it.

He regained his composure though and resisted a fightback from Coll to send the match into a decider. The Frenchman was on top throughout the fifth as he hit a series of winners and pulled Coll away from the ’T’ to wrap up a 2-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6 victory which, at 81 minutes, is the longest match of the tournament so far.

“It took me a while to adapt, I felt really slow and couldn’t see the ball,” said Gaultier.

“The ball was so fast at the beginning of the match, I didn’t have my movement either. I had to really push myself in the second to produce something. I fought with my head because I was struggling to be accurate or move fast off the ’T’ and it was tough, he was always recovering the shots and playing at a fast pace.

“But I managed to dig in and win the match. There are days when you play well, days when you play differently, but at the end I just tried to find a solution and play every single point.”

Gaultier will meet World No.6 Marwan ElShorbagy for a place in the semi-finals after the Egyptian defeated Scottish qualifier Greg Lobban.

[1] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Paul Coll (NZL) 3-2: 2-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 11-6 (81m)
[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-8 (47m)

ElShorbagy Defeats Impressive Serme

Two-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy overcame stern resistance from French qualifier Lucas Serme to reach the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open for the fourth time.

The World No.3 fell to a surprise one-game deficit against an impressive Serme, who hit his lines well as he looked to follow up a superb upset of former World No.3 Omar Mosaad in the previous round.

But ElShorbagy responded by pulling Serme into the front of the court more and the pressure finally took its toll as the ‘Beast of Alexandria’ pushed ahead to take a 2-1 lead.

Much of the fourth game was neck-and-neck, with Serme continuing to cause problems for the former World No.1, but ElShorbagy kept his head and saw out the victory to set up a quarter-final meeting with Mohamed Abouelghar.

“We know each other very well, we were at the same University and trained together for three years,” said ElShorbagy.

“He used to live in Bristol as well, so we’re really good friends. I’m happy to see him playing that well, he’s such a nice guy. Normally when two players play each other for the first time on the professional scene, they struggle to read each other.

“But because we have played so many times [away from the PSA World Tour], he was reading me and I was reading him. We matched up well and I’m just glad to be through.

“All credit to him, he put me under a lot of pressure and there were times when I thought I had him but he responded really well. I’m happy to be through and I’m looking forward to playing Abouelghar, who had a really good win against [Simon] Rösner.

“To beat him 3-0 is a great achievement and he’s playing really well. We played at the U.S. Open [last month] and I think we’re going to have another good battle together.”

[3] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) 3-1: 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8 (45m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Simon Rösner (GER) 3-0: 11-9, 15-13, 11-7 (45m)

El Welily Avenges U.S. Open Final Defeat to El Tayeb

Raneem El Welily

Two-time winner Raneem El Welily earned her place in the last eight after the Egyptian shot-making sensation got the better of compatriot Nour El Tayeb in a repeat of the U.S. Open final.

El Welily had lost to El Tayeb in their two previous meetings and her defeat in Philadelphia saw El Tayeb claim her maiden World Series title at the U.S. Open just hours before husband Ali Farag picked up the men’s crown as they became the first married couple in sporting history ever to win the same major sports title on the same day.

It was El Welily who started the better of the two as she hit a range of winners to edge slightly ahead in the opener, but some superb retrieving from El Tayeb saw the younger Egyptian draw level after overturning a game ball.

There was little between the pair over the course of the next two games, with both players taking a game each as the entertaining squash between the duo continued.

And it was El Welily who emerged the victor after taking a nail-biting fifth game by an 11-9 margin to book her place in the quarter-finals, where either Joelle King or Sarah-Jane Perry will await.

“I’m very happy to win today, it wasn’t easy at all,” said El Welily.

“It was another five-gamer, but I’m really happy with the way I fought at the end. We were both very anxious to go for shots but I was lucky at the end.

“The last time we played, the fifth game was really bad from my side. She went 9-1 up, so I knew it couldn’t be as bad. I took it point-by point and I’m really glad to win.”

A superb win for New Zealand's Joelle King over World No.7 Sarah-Jane Perry means that the Kiwi will play El Welily for a place in the last four.

El Welily got the better of King in the semi-finals of the U.S. Open, but King did win their last encounter at the Carol Weymuller Open less than two weeks later, so it's all to play for in Hong Kong.

[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt [13] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9 (62m)
[10] Joelle King (NZL) bt [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7 (52m)

David Survives Au Scare to Reach Quarter-Finals

Nicol David

10-time Hong Kong Open champion Nicol David fought back from 2-1 down to dispatch local hero Annie Au, reaching the quarter-finals of this tournament for a 12th year in a row.

Au had ended an eight-year, 17-match losing streak to the eight-time World Champion last month at the U.S. Open and she came within a whisker of securing back-to-back wins for the first time.

Despite taking a one-game lead, David struggled to build up a rhythm as Au kept the rallies short and sharp and the player from Hong Kong took games two and three to draw rapturous applause from the crowd.

A crucial fourth game then went the way of David as the 34-year-old scurried around court, making some incredible retrievals to counter Au’s lob and drop style of play.

Au continued to push David hard in the deciding fifth game and she looked to have found the edge when a monster rally went the way of the World No.11 to put her 7-6 up. However, fatigue then set in for Au and David kept her focus as she took the next five points to seal her place in the next round.

“She always plays well here, so I knew I had to really be on it today,” said David.

“I stayed focus, but she played really well today. I had a little lapse but I knew I needed to go up another level and I performed really well, stuck to my game plan and I’m really pleased to win that 3-2.

“I knew she would bring her game forward [from the U.S. Open], so I needed to stay solid. I didn’t quite execute my game plan the way I wanted to in the last match, which gave her more opportunities to lob the ball. I tried to give her less time to work with and that helped in this match.”

David will play World No.3 Camille Serme in the next round after she too beat home opposition, with a 3-1 win over World No.19 Joey Chan sending her through to the last eight.

Serme has never beaten David in 16 previous attempts on the PSA World Tour.

[5] Nicol David (MAS) bt [9] Annie Au (HKG) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7 (55m)
[3] Camille Serme (FRA) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 (46m)

Gawad and Farag Reach Quarters

Karim Abdel Gawad

World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and the in-form Ali Farag earned their places in the last eight courtesy of respective wins over Australia’s Cameron Pilley and local favourite Leo Au.

Both Gawad – the 2016 runner-up – and Pilley – the 2015 runner-up – played some sumptuous squash throughout the 54-minute encounter, with Pilley fighting back from a game down to take the second.

But the final two games in particular saw Gawad display the kind of shot-making talents that took him to World No.1 and the World Championship title last season as the ‘Baby-Faced Assassin’ moved through the gears to take an 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7 victory.

“Pilley is a very tough opponent and we always play tough matches together, so I was expecting another tough match,” said Gawad, who will play Tarek Momen in the last eight after he beat Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly.

“It’s always difficult for me to play him because he’s very dangerous with the ball in the front corners and middle of the court. I’m really glad to get through today and it was very important that I took it step-by-step. I’ve regained more of my confidence and I’m glad to win in four today.

“Tarek is a very tough opponent, we’ve played six or seven times on the Tour and it’s already a very tough match match.”

Ali Farag (right) v Leo Au (left)

Meanwhile, the last match of the day saw Farag end the run of Hong Kong No.1 Au, who was forced to retire in the second game due to injury.

Au, the tournament wildcard, caused a huge upset against defending champion Ramy Ashour in the previous round but he was unable to repeat the heroics after shaking hands at 6-2 down in the second to bring a premature end to the match.

“It’s never pleasing to win that way,” admitted Farag.

“He had a great match yesterday and I was ready for a big fight tonight, but it was unfortunate for him. I’m not sure if he felt it today or if he had been feeling it for a while, but I hope he recovers as fast as he can.”

Up next for Farag is a meeting with English qualifier Declan James, who had a similar path through to the quarter-finals after his second round opponent, World No.8 Fares Dessouky, suffered a twisted knee during their clash, which meant the Egyptian had to pull out despite already being two games ahead.

James, who will appear in his first ever World Series quarter-final, said: “I hope the injury isn’t serious and I hope that Fares recovers quickly. It’s been an up-and-down season, so I just wanted to enjoy my squash.

“I’ve been playing good squash this week but he was 2-0 up, so he deserved to win the match. I thought I was in the match and was playing well, but he was well in the lead.

“For me now, I have to forget about it as well as I can and prepare for tomorrow. It’s the quarter-finals of a World Series event and I’m going in as fresh as I can be. It’s a fortunate opportunity but, overall, I hope that Fares recovers quickly.”

[2] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-1: 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7 (54m)
[7] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 14-12, 11-6, 12-10 (53m)
[Q] Declan James (ENG) bt [8] Fares Dessouky (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 4-11, 2-3 ret. (37m)
[4] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [WC] Leo Au (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 6-2 ret. (16m)

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