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Hong Kong Squash Open

Hong Kong jinx strikes Gregory Gaultier again

The 34-year-old Frenchman is beaten by Egypt’s Marwan Elshorbagy as the Hong Kong trophy continue to elude him after years of trying

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 7:59pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 10:57pm

Gregory Gaultier’s Hong Kong jinx continued on Friday when the world number one crashed out of the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open in the quarter-finals.

The 34-year-old Frenchman’s impressive resume includes major titles at world and British Opens but Hong Kong remains an elusive title. That became apparent when the reigning British Open champion was beaten 3-1 by Egypt’s Marwan Elshorbagy, ending another year without the trophy he has been hoping to lift for years.

Hong Kong has never been a happy hunting ground for Gaultier as he failed to live up to his ranking again as the US$305,000 tournament moved into the glass court at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre.

“I didn’t play well and did not perform here,” said the disappointing Frenchman, who lost 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 11-6 to Elshorbagy.

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Gaultier reached the Hong Kong Open final five times before – the last time in 2014 when he was beaten by Mohamed Elshorbagy, the older brother of Marwan, who beat Gaultier in the state-of-the-art venue.

Gaultier is unsure whether he would be back for another go at the Hong Kong trophy.

“I don’t know my plan or anything about my future career yet,” he said. “ I’ll try to come back. Let’s see,” he said.

Gaultier’s exit paved the way for Egypt to take a stranglehold of the tournament with four semi-finalists coming from the country.

While the two Elshorbagy brothers, Marwan and Mohamed will face each other for a place in the final, the other semi-final will be contested by second seed Karim Abdel Gawad, the losing finalist last year, taking on Ali Farag, the fourth seed.

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The women’s event will also see a strong Egyptian presence. Top seed Nour El Sherbini played one of her best games against compatriot Nouran Gohar, the defending champion, proving too strong in 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 victory in their all-Egyptian quarter-final.

She will now take on former world number one Laura Massaro of England after the fourth seed scored a 3-1 win over Tesni Evans of Wales. World number two Raneem El Welily of Egypt also made it to the last four, beating top New Zealander Joelle King after five thrilling games.

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Two-time world champion Sherbini was, however, in a class of her against the 2016 Hong Kong champion with her accurate and fast attacking shots proving too much for her compatriot.

“I was able to get to the court very quickly and I sticked to my plan,” said 22-year-old Sherbini, who reached the semi-finals in her Hong Kong debut last year. “I kept pushing her hard even when I had built a big lead because if you lose one or two points, she would come back stronger. I am glad that I did not give her a chance to get into her game.

“It’s always difficult against Gohar as we know each other too well but today I played one of my best games against her.”

Sherbini is looking forward to a better result than her maiden Hong Kong Open outing of last year.

“It’s going to be my second semi-final in a row in Hong Kong, Last year it was the beginning of the season and I couldn’t find my best form. I hope I can do better this time.”

Malaysian great Nicol David also found the going tough and joined Gaultier on the casualty list after losing to France’s second seed, Camille Serme, 11-9, 8-11,11-9, 11-6 in her quarter-final.

David is a ten-time Hong Kong Open champion but the Frenchwoman was able to wear her down to reach the semi-finals in 45 minutes.