Hong Kong Squash Open

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

Former world No 1 will have to overcome the formidable Egyptians, led by the game’s top two players Nour El Sherbini and Raneem El Welily

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 7:31pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 11:14pm

Former world number one Laura Massaro has set her sights on winning her first Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open, which she considers a special tournament.

The British number one reached the final in Hong Kong two years ago when she lost to Nicol David of Malaysia. She has also made it to the semi-finals on two other occasions and been a four-time quarter-finalist, one of the best achievers in the star-studded tournament behind David, who won 10 consecutive titles until 2015.

With David on the wane and with only one title this year, reigning British Open champion Massaro is one of the challengers for the Hong Kong event, along with other star players from Egypt, including world number one Nour El Sherbini and second seed Raneem El Welily.

“I’ve never won the title here and hope to do that obviously,” said Massaro, who is now ranked fourth in the world. “Hong Kong will always be special for me because I became the world number one here two years ago when I was in the semi-finals. It’s always a nice place for me to remember.”

Nour El Sherbini hoping HK Open can help in quest to emulate Malaysian legend Nicol David

Massaro climbed to the top spot in January 2016, replacing El Welily and kept it for four months before handing it to another Egyptian, El Sherbini.

Before that, David dominated the top position for a record-breaking nine years before conceding the ranking to El Welily in 2015.

“It’s really tough at the top level,” she said. “It’s not just anyone can win because women’s squash is rubbish. Anyone can win because everyone is so good … you need to put together a lot of effort where you can win a world tour series title like this.

“It is still something really special because how well everybody is playing and how many top players you have to beat on the road to get there.”

Massaro made it to the second round after beating Hania El Hammamy of Egypt 3-0 (11-6, 11-7, 11-9) at Squash Centre on Tuesday.

“She is still a junior but pushed me to three tight games,” said Massaro. “You have to stay in the moment and take it match by match, hoping by the time you work your way through the rounds, you put yourself in a good position hopefully to do well.”

In another first round match, home favourite Liu Tsz-ling, a wild-card entry, was no match for defending champion Nouran Gohar of Egypt.

The 20-year-old wasted no time winning in straight games 11-2, 11-8, 11-6 to set up a second round encounter against Joshna Chinappa of India.

In the men’s event, top seed Gregory Gaultier of France cruised to a 3-0 win over fellow countryman Gregoire Marche, while Marwan Elshorbagy of Egypt also went through with a 3-0 win over compatriot Omar Abdel Meguid.