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Hong Kong Squash Open

Gone in 22 minutes: Joey Chan feels the might of Egypt’s Raneem El Welily at Hong Kong Squash Open

  • Hong Kong favourite is swept aside by the tournament second seed in her first appearance in the glass court
  • Chan still thinks she had a brilliant year with Asian title and Asian Games gold medal
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 10:03pm

Joey Chan Ho-ling took centre stage but she was in the spotlight for a mere 22 minutes after she was swept aside by Egypt’s Raneem El Welily at the Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Squash Open on Friday night.

The only home player remaining in the HK$2.57 million tournament, Chan earned the right to play in the portable glass court set up at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre in Admiralty after her feel-good victory against another Egyptian, Yathreb Adel, in Thursday’s last-16 encounter.

But the second seed El Welily, who was also last year’s losing finalist, spoiled the party as the former world No 1 exposed the gulf between the two players with the Hong Kong favourite unable to get into a rhythm while losing 11-2, 11-8, 11-6.

“El Welily is a very experienced player and knew how to make life difficult for me. She did well today,” said left handed Chan, who was playing with a blistered hand although she refused to lay the blame on her injury. “The blister developed after Wednesday’s match and it burst yesterday. As a result, I couldn’t hold my racquet firmly and was unable to assert more power to my game but that isn’t an excuse. It was a big learning curve for me.

Dream fulfilled as Joey Chan takes centre stage at the Hong Kong Squash Open

“Indeed, playing on the glass court was like playing under the spot light on centre stage and it gave me a lot more responsibility as I was playing for Hong Kong. My parents, friends and fellow teammates all came out to support me and that made me feel excited.”

Although easily beaten, Chan, the world number 19, can take heart that she was the only non-seeded player left in the women’s quarter-finals with the rest of the field occupied by top 10 players.

“I am now 30 and this year has been a milestone for me as I was part of the Hong Kong women’s team that won both the Asian Championships and Asian Games gold medals this year,” said Chan.

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“And now in the individual event, I also made it through to the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open against the world’s top 10 players. It’s been my target to break into the top 15 and then hopefully reach the top 10. All these results have bolstered my confidence.”

El Welily will now play fellow Egyptian Nouran Gohar in the semi-finals. The other semi-final features Joelle King, of New Zealand, and England’s Sarah-Jane Perry.

Perry, the number eight seed, pulled off the biggest surprise of the day when she overcame defending champion and world number one Nour El Sherbini, of Egypt, 3-2 (7-11, 11-7, 11-13, 11-8, 11-5) after an hour-long battle.

“I was surprised she [El Sherbini] lost and could not make it to the later stages,” said El Welily. “But Perry played very well today and after all that’s what sport is about.”