Shabana shows his class to seal final spot

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 November, 2008, 12:00am

Egyptian world number one Amr Shabana lived up to expectations, reaching the final of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open by eliminating Frenchman Thierry Lincou yesterday.

The defending champion came back from one game down to win in 45 minutes at the Cultural Centre Piazza in Tsim Sha Tsui. Lincou, the last champion in Hong Kong before Shabana's three successive titles, went on the attack early, winning the first game 11-7, but that was the best he could offer. The Egyptian then ran rampant, taking three games in a row 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 to book his final berth against Frenchman Gregory Gaultier today.

Gaultier, the second seed, clinched his final place when he defeated Englishman James Willstrop 3-1. '[Lincou] attacked from the very beginning and was quick to get himself into the match,' said Shabana.

'I had to change my tactics in the second [game] by increasing my speed and deploying more tricky shots and boasts, and it worked. It then went all the way through until I won.'

Shabana admitted conditions in the four-sided glass court at the harbour front were different from playing indoors at Hong Kong Squash Centre in the previous rounds. 'The climate is more humid here and it was difficult to breathe,' he said. 'You need to adapt to the conditions quickly or you may get into trouble.

'Now I need some good rest and good luck in the final so that I can claim my fourth consecutive title in Hong Kong.'

In the women's event, number one seed and defending champion Nicol David of Malaysia also reached the final, defeating Natalie Grainger of the United States in straight games.

The Malaysian world champion, who won 11-8, 11-9, 11-5, will now take on Rachael Grinham of Australia.

The latter dispatched her younger sister Natalie 3-0. Natalie is now representing the Netherlands.

'The second game was crucial when I came back from 8-9 down to win it,' said David.

'After that it went smoothly for me.'