Seeds prevail as Alex and Tong bow out
Round Three concluded today at Hong Kong Squash Centre, and it was a good day for the seeded players with all eight matches going the way of the higher seeds.
In the women’s matches in-form Joelle King kept her winning streak going as she overcame English youngster Katie Malliff while Sarah-Jane Perry prevailed in four over Lisa Aitken. Second seed Nour El Sherbini accounted for home hopeful Tong Tsz-Wing in quick time and she’ll face Belgium’s Nele Gilis, who backed up her rise into the world’s top ten with a confident win over Yathreb Adel.
The men’s matches finished with top seed Paul Coll ending home hopes, although not before Alex Lau had taken the first game 14-12 to the delight of the packed crowd. Coll will meet Marwan ElShorbagy for a place in the final, and third seed Mostafa Asal will meet France’s Victor Crouin, who survived a fuve game tussle against Aly Abou Eleinen.
Read on for match reports, quotes and photos … quarter-finals take place tomorrow at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre.
Reports and Reaction
Coll ends home hopes
 Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1 Tsz Kwan Lau (Hkg) 12-14, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (49m)
A win for unseeded Hong Kong player Alex Lau against top seed and World #2 Paul Coll in the final match of the day and the round was always unlikely, but what an effort Alex made in the first game !
Attacking at every opportunity Alex led for the entirety of the game, pulling off another point each time Coll reduced the deficit. He has three game balls at 10-7, had to save one at 11-12, but harried Coll into errors before taking the lead 14-12 to the delight of the packed home crowd.
That was as good as it got though, as Coll turned the screw to take the next three games without too much drama. Still, what a way to end this year’s play at Hong Kong Squash Centre.
“He came out of the blocks super quick and maybe I was a fraction short on my lengths. It was a bit annoying that I couldn’t squeeze the first at the end there, it was a tie-break situation and I normally back myself there. I knew I had to get it a bit deeper because anything half court was going in with quality.
“Playing in front of a home crowd can either relax you or make you more tense. It obviously relaxed him today and it looked like he was enjoying it out there. It’s great to see these young guys coming through and enjoying their squash in front of their home crowd, it’s great we’ve got Hong Kong back on.”
Marwan makes the quarters
 Marwan ElShorbagy (Egy) 3-1 Sebastien Bonmalais (Fra) 11-6, 11-8, 5-11, 11-1 (43m)
Marwan ElShorbagy saw off France’s Sebastien Bonmalais in four games to reach the quarters.
ElShorbagy looked on course to win in straight games, but Bonmalais fought backto take the third, using his speed to his advantage to half the deficit. But the pinpoint accuracy of ElShorbagy and errors from Bonmalais were pivotal, which saw the Egyptian advance to the last eight with a comfortable 11-1 win in the fourth game.
“Sebastien is a very good player and we played in Dutch league a few weeks ago and he was able to get the win, so I knew how dangerous this match would be. I was very focused from the very first point but in the third game I lost a bit of concentration. Any chance you give him, you know he is going to take it.
“He was really solid throughout. I had to win the points, he didn’t give me anything, so I’m really happy to contain him. It’s a tricky court as well, so I’m pleased with my overall performance.
“I just restarted again in the fourth. It was pretty close in the third, it was 5-5 and then he won four or five points in a row. If you lose your concentration, you can lose a few points. I’m happy with the way I came back in that fourth game.”
Sherbini ends home hopes in women’s draw
 Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0 Tong Tsz-Wing (Hkg) 11-1, 11-7, 11-5 (23m)
Nour ElSherbini ruthlessly put home favourite Tong Tsz-Wing to the sword to reach the quarter-finals.
The second see seed was on the front foot from the off, taking the first game with a clinical performance, going 8-0 up and taking the game 11-1. Tong battled back in the second, but El Sherbini proved to be too strong and doubled her advantage 11-7 triumph before rounding off the match 11-5 in the third in just 23 minutes.
“I was trying to be relaxed and confident. Sometimes you need a tough match to get you back on the move and wake you up a little bit. The first round helped motivate me and make be play better today.
“Tong had the home crowd after her, so I had to be more motivated to win.
“Nele has been in amazing form, she just won the Malaysian Open. It’s been a while since I played her, the head-to-head is an advantage for me and I’m looking forward to it.”
Gilis through in Three
[9/16] Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-0 Yathreb Adel (Egy) 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 (30m)
Nele Gilis sealed her place in the quarter-finals in just 30 minutes as she overcame Yathreb Adel in the third round.
Gilis, who recently became the first female Belgian player to reach the top 10 of the PSA World rankings, wasted no time in progressing to the quarter-finals as she wrapped up her first two games in eight and seven minutes, and continued to dominate in the third, clinching it 11-8.
“So to get the win today in three is a very good result. I always had to stay focused because she’s one of the most talented players on tour. So I’m very happy that I managed to stay focused and finish that in three.
“Reaching the Top Ten was a complete surprise, I actually expected to go to 11. So when I casually went to check the rankings and to see that I was stunned, I was so happy and I burst into tears immediately.”
Crouin survives Eleinen test
 Victor Crouin (Fra) 3-2 Aly Abou Eleinen (Egy) 6-11, 11-9, 11-3, 13-15, 11-2 (76m)
France’s seventh seed Victor Crouin survived a torrid encounter with unseeded Egyptian Aly Abou Eleinen, whose all-action style earned him the first game. Crouin fought back to take the next two, but couldn’t convert the single match ball he had in a fiery fourth as Eleinen forced a decider.
That was his last real effort though, as the Egyptian was barely able to compete in the fifth, giving up the last few points as Crouin – now without his ‘squashtache’ moved into a last eight meeting with Mostafa Asal.
“I had a game plan in place because we played at the French Open a few months ago, and it went my way pretty comfortably. So I had a game plan in place and I had to change everything after a couple points in the first game, it took me a while to settle in and also tough conditions the court is very fast and dead.
“It was a tough match, I’m relieved I got the win as an opportunity to make it to my first quarter final here in Hong Kong, so I’m really proud.”
Asal axes Elnawasany
 Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 Yahya Elnawasany (Egy) 12-10, 11-3, 11-9 (34m)
Mostafa Asal continued his attempts to add the Hong Kong Open to his growing trophy cabinet as he recorded straight-games win over fellow Egyptian Yahya Elnawasany.
Asal, known on tour as ‘The Raging Bull’ took a while to hit his stride following a fine start by Elnawasany, attacked superbly on the backhand side but was unable to capitalise on a 10-8 lead as Asal took four points in a row to take the lead.
Asal was in command in the second and third games despite a late comeback from Elnawasany in the third.
“I’ve been here two times, once in my junior career and the other in my professional career,” said Asal. “The last time I came here in 2018, I was only on the reserve list and I was chopped 3-0 in 20 minutes and then went back home so I’m happy to be back here and getting more matches.
Yahya and I are a similar age and we’ve played lots of tournaments as juniors, so there is definitely pressure, I was 10-2 up and it felt like I was remembering lots of things from when we were juniors and it’s actually tense and a new feeling on tour, so I’m glad I managed to win the match this way.”
Perry beats Aitken in four
 Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-1 [9/16] Lisa Aitken (Sco) 11-8, 11-5, 3-11, 11-9 (37m)
England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry will compete in the last eight after she beat Scotland’s Lisa Aitken to set up a last eight battle with the in-form Joelle King. Perry had won all three of their previous matches by 3-0 margins, but this time around Aitken was able to put a game on the board.
Perry started on the front foot and was able to find her length game immediately as she built up a two game lead. Aitken came out firing in the third and pulled a game back, and led 9-5 in the fourth only for Perry to take the next six points to clinch the victory.
“That seemed to be enough, but she came out firing in the third game, the ball died off and she was absolutely ripping through the back and on the boasts. I had to try to get myself back into gear in the fourth and it took half of the fourth game to do it, but I started finding some length again which was good. Thankfully I drew a few errors out and over the years I’ve won a lot of those tight matches and tight games.
“I’ve played Joelle a lot over the years and we’ve had some absolute monster battles. She’s been playing incredibly well and won a few titles recently. She’s been playing amazing and I’ll just be trying to focus on what I can do, I’ll bring my best squash and see what happens.”
Defending Champion King through to last eight
 Joelle King (Nzl) 3-0 Katie Malliff (Eng) 12-10, 11-4, 11-5 (32m)
Defending champion Joelle King booked her place in the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open courtesy victory over England’s Katie Malliff in 32 minutes.
It was the pair’s first match on the PSA Tour, with Malliff securing a place in the third round of a PSA World Tour Platinum for the third time. Malliff played some of her best squash in the first game as she tested the experienced Kiwi, but couldn’t take the singe game ball opportunity as King took the lead in extra points.
King’s quality shone through in the next two games and she closed out the win to move into the quarter-finals.
“I’ve never even stepped on court with her before,” said King. “She’s a very tricky player, she’s quite similar to SJ in some ways. It took me a while to start reading what shots she plays and how she hits the ball. The first was very close and I was very happy to come away and win that. Then it felt like I could relax a little bit and take control of the middle of the court.
“I like to think when you’ve been on tour for 16 years you gain a bit of experience. I think with some of the close games that I’ve been having I’ve managed to close out purely because of experience. It comes to help you out in situations like that especially. The first game was quite a crucial one and it took the wind out of her sails, and I was able to stamp my authority out there.
“I’ve got a lot of good memories here [Hong Kong]. It was my last World Juniors and the tournament where I decided I was going to turn pro and I also won my only major here. I’m through to the quarters, I still need to take it one day at a time and hopefully I can continue to play good squash.”