Women's contests offer surpises at Hong Kong Squash Open
Champions breeze through, but women's draw provides surprises at HK Open
There were some surprises at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open yesterday, but two things were predictable: wins for defending champions Nicol David and James Willstrop.
The world number one woman and man continued the defence of their titles with routine wins over Kasey Brown and Borja Golan respectively.
Three of the men's quarter-finals were walkovers; Nick Matthew, Karim Darwish and Ramy Ashour reaching the semis after their opponents Amr Shabana, Peter Barker and Gregory Gaultier pulled out injured. Matthew plays Shabana in the semis and Willstrop faces Ashour.
But if spectators felt short-changed by missing those matches, they got their money's worth in two big upsets in the women's draw. The 34-year-old Dutch veteran Natalie Grinham beat third seed Jenny Duncalf from England, and qualifier Omneya Abdel Kawy from Egypt beat sixth seed Alison Waters.
Kawy was world No 4 before injuries.
"I didn't stop playing, but I did really badly in matches," said Kawy. "Now I rank No 22 in the world and it is tiring to play through qualifiers to the quarter-final, but this is something you have to do to achieve victory."
She is looking forward to playing at the outdoor court in Tsim Sha Tsui for the first time tomorrow when she will face France's Camille Serme, also non-seeded.
Grinham stunned Duncalf in four games 11-8, 10-12, 11-2, 11-5. "My strategy for the match was to interrupt her from playing attacking shots in the middle and the front court and it paid off," said Grinham.
She will face David today, after the multiple Hong Kong Open champion conquered Australian Kasey Brown in half an hour, 11-2, 11-4, 11-3.
"Me and Natalie have played a lot and it has been a while," said David. "She is gutsy and keeps playing and playing in games. There will be some good shots in our match definitely."
With the IOC set to be in attendance at Tsim Sha Tsui to consider squash's 2020 Olympic Games bid, David added: "We can just do our best and can't expect too much. We'll just put the things together well and deliver good matches in the coming days."