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Hong Kong Squash Open

A new Hong Kong Open dynasty? How Nour El Sherbini wants to follow in Nicol David’s footsteps

Egyptian world No 1 makes her breakthrough in the city and wants to return to win more titles and emulate her idol, Malaysian great Nicol David

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 November, 2017, 8:50pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 November, 2017, 10:41pm

Just like the legendary Malaysian Nicol David before her, world No 1 Nour El Sherbini hopes she can start a new dynasty of her own after becoming women’s champion at the US$305,000 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.

The 22-year-old Egyptian won in Hong Kong for the first time and she hopes it’s the first of many titles she can win in the city as she aims to emulate David’s long, unchallenged reign here during the past 10 years or so.

El Sherbini on Sunday was clearly on the path to greatness too after she dismantled good friend and compatriot Raneem El Welily 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 in a display that spoke volumes of his craftsmanship and talent at the Hong Kong Park Sports Centre.

“This is my first title in Hong Kong and I can’t wait to come back next year to defend my title,” said the 22-year-old from Alexandria, who reached the Hong Kong Squash Open semis on her debut last year. “Of course I hope I can be another player who can win so many times here just like Nicol [David]. I am still learning and I’m trying to keep it going.”

Former world number one David, now 34, won 10 consecutive times in Hong Kong – and that does not include a World Open title she also lifted here in 2005 – until the magic stopped in 2015. David lost to third seed Camille Serme, of France, at this year’s quarter-finals but is still a force to be reckoned with on the women’s circuit.

Dad’s mobile messages helped me win, says Nour El Sherbini

The final was dominated by El Sherbini. El Welily had led head-to-head encounters against her before the final with a record of seven wins in 12 encounters, but the No 2 seed was unable to mount a strong enough challenge after a demanding week that saw her labour to three five-game matches before reaching the final.

“She was not at her best and was struggling in her movement,” said the new Hong Kong champion. “She was mentally tired more so than her physical body. Still, it’s always hard to play her as we know each other well. We always travel together and share the same room and we have created a strong bond.”

British squash star Laura Massaro hoping special feeling for Hong Kong brings her elusive victory

Despite having no trouble in the final, El Sherbini still communicated with her father between games through mobile phone. “He just gives me confidence, telling me to keep going without changing the game plan,” said the Egyptian, who needed advice from her father back home before stopping England’s Laura Massaro in five games in Saturday’s semi-finals.

In the men’s final, third seed Mohamed Elshorbagy captured his third Hong Kong title after outlasting compatriot Ali Farag in five games (11-6, 5-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3) in another all-Egyptian clash. The 26 year-old Elshorbagy was also champion in 2014 and 2015. Elshorbagy attributed his latest success to experience at the top level after reaching his third world series final this season. He won the Qatar Classic just before his arrival in Hong Kong. With two titles on the trot in successive weeks, he will move to world number two in December and is “on his way back to world number one”, which he first accomplished in late 2014.