Breakthrough HK Open wins for top duo

World number one Amr Shabana finally broke his Hong Kong jinx when he won the Cathay Pacific Swiss Privilege Hong Kong Open yesterday.

Egyptian Shabana beat compatriot Ramy Ashour 3-1 to claim the men's title, his first since his debut at the event in 1997, in a final played at the Plaza Hollywood shopping centre in Diamond Hill.

'It is great to win my first Hong Kong Open title and I feel very happy to win it in such an amazing environment with a huge crowd,' said Shabana, who collected US$17,500.

'Squash should be played like this - taking the game to the crowd as we need more promotion of the sport. I don't even mind if we have to go to the beach to play a tournament if we can have more people to watch it.'

The women's final was also won by the world number one, Nicol David of Malaysia, who produced a three-game victory over seventh seed and world number seven Tania Bailey, of England. It was also the first Hong Kong Open championship for David.

Tickets for the 500-seat venue were sold out long before the match started, but thousands watched the match from different levels of the plaza.


Shabana, who had a tough five-game win against James Willstrop of England in the semis said he suffered heavy legs in the fourth game against his younger opponent.

'We have been training together in the national team for almost three years and knew each other very well. Ashour has got a lot of potential and should be able to break into the world's top three very soon if he keeps playing like this,' said Shabana, who won 11-10 (3-1), 3-11, 11-5, 11-10 (3-1).

Having collected her fifth title in four months, David said she still had a lot to learn in order to improve her game and needed to develop consistency. She won 9-1, 10-8, 9-5.