Joey Chan Ho-ling will get the perfect dress rehearsal for the Asian Games when she comes up against world number one Nicol David in the quarter-finals of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Open squash tournament on Friday.
Hong Kong number two Chan is likely to meet defending Asian Games gold medallist David in Incheon next month and is hoping to make the most of this opportunity on centre court at the Hong Kong Squash Centre to unravel the secrets behind the amazing success of the Malaysian favourite.
"I hope I can do well against Nicol so that it will boost my confidence for the Asian Games," said Chan after she booked her passage in the last eight in the women's competition with a straight-games victory over Egypt's Omneya Abdel Kawy.
But Hong Kong number one Annie Au Wing-chi's plan to use this tournament as a building block to the Asian Games came unstuck as she stumbled, losing to veteran Rachael Grinham in the second round.
Grinham, a winner in Hong Kong in 2002, turned back the clock to hand Hong Kong favourite Au a shock loss. Au, who had reached the semi-finals last year, was stunned 9-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-9 by the 37-year-old Australian ace.
"I didn't play badly but she played really well," conceded world No 9 Au. "She came out and played a completely different game to what I expected and that caught me by surprise."
Au's ousting leaves Chan as the sole local interest in the event. Ranked 23rd in the world, she has been playing some of her best squash. In June, at the Asian Team Championships, Chan beat world No 10 Dipika Pallikal to give Hong Kong a shock win over India in the semi-finals.
"She [Chan] has been playing well. The last time I played her she took a game off me and it shows how hungry all these young players are," David said.
David, chasing an incredible 10th straight title in Hong Kong, dropped a game against England's Emma Beddoes before reasserting her dominance with a 11-4, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7 victory.
It was more straightforward for the left-handed Chan who needed just half an hour to ward off the challenge from Kawy, a runner-up in Hong Kong in 2009, winning 11-8, 13-11, 11-7.
"I went to sleep for a bit in the second game as she tried to force the pace. But I told myself I had to keep moving her around and keep the rallies long so as to tire her out," said Chan after reaching the quarter-finals at home for only the second time.
Looking ahead to the David encounter, Chan said: "It is always going to be tough trying to beat her. My record against her is 3-0 in her favour but I will try to enjoy the match and hopefully learn a few things which might help me at the Asian Games."
In the men's event, top seed Gregory Gaultier of France booked a place in the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Egyptian Fares Dessouki. He will meet England's Daryl Selby in the last eight on Friday.