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Hong Kong Squash Open

Hong Kong will have a special place in my heart, says Joelle King after winning Squash Open

  • New Zealander wins her first platinum event four years after rupturing her Achilles' heel
  • Mohamed Elshorbagy clinches his fourth men’s Hong Kong Open title in five years
PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 November, 2018, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 November, 2018, 11:19pm

New Zealand’s Joelle King has always enjoyed playing in Hong Kong for years. Now the city will have a special place in her heart after she lifted the women’s title at the Everbright Sun Hung Kai Hong Kong Open on Sunday.

The 30-year-old, who hails from Cambridge in the land of the long white cloud, has been competing at the Hong Kong event for the “past eight to 10 years” – too long to remember – but she had achieved little success, her Achilles injury from four years ago not helping her cause.

But everything seemed to have gone perfectly for the world No 7 in the portable glass court at Hong Kong Park as she finally won the one title she had been dreaming of. She defeated Egypt’s Raneem El Welily 3-0 (11-4, 12-10, 19-17) to not only win her first Hong Kong Open but also her first world series (platinum) title.

For El Welily, the wait for the Hong Kong Open title continues after she was beaten for the fourth time in the final which dates back to 2011 when she was first upstaged by Malaysian great Nicol David.

However, El Welily will take the No 1 ranking from fellow Egyptian Nour El Sherbini in the December rankings after the latter was eliminated in the quarter-finals by Sarah-Jane Perry of England.

King will be celebrating an exceptional week to pocket her first top-tier title, winning the quarter-finals, semis and now final in straight games.

Raneem El Welily out to lose bridesmaid tag at Hong Kong Squash Open

“I have been coming here for eight or 10 years trying to win it for a long time. It’s just so nice to have everything come together,” said the new champion, who won gold at this year’s Commonwealth Games.

“El Welily is such a tough player and she kept coming back at me throughout the match. She is not the world number one [player] for no reason. I am so happy that I won my first world series event against such a classy player.”

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

The New Zealander has also truly announced her comeback after rupturing her Achilles tendon in 2014 that forced her on the sidelines for nine months. She came to Hong Kong with little expectations or pressure and she admitted that could have been key to her breakthrough victory.

“I had a pretty bad start to the season [in September] as I suffered a few first-round loses. But I was pretty relaxed in Hong Kong as I had a bit time off because of injury about a month ago. I didn’t really have too many expectations. Hong Kong is going to have a special place in my heart as this is the first time I won a world series here. Hopefully I can keep coming back for a few more years.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s Mohamed Elshorbagy continued his dominance in Hong Kong after successfully clinching back-to-back men’s titles.

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

Top seed Elshorbagy bagged his fourth Hong Kong title in five years when he cruised to a 3-0 (11-6, 11-6, 11-7) victory over compatriot Ali Farag in 39 minutes, a repeat of last year’s final when he prevailed 3-2.

El Shorgbagy said it was too early to say if he would make it 10 wins just like Nicol David did when she won all before her ending in 2015 but promised he would come back next year to have another crack at it.