Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)
Tuesday,17 October, 2017
Issue 1310, (1 - 7 September 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Hong Kong combo

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Al-Ahram Weekly

THERE WAS DOUBLE delight for Egyptian squash in the finals of the 2016 Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open as three-time world champion Rami Ashour and world junior champion Nouran Gohar took the honours at Hong Kong Park Sports Centre.

In the women’s final 18-year-old Gohar, who beat world No 2 Laura Massaro before ending world No 3 Nicol David’s 11 years of dominance at this event to reach the final, got off to a slow start against American Amanda Sobhy, quickly falling behind in a 6-11 first game that saw the Boston-based 23-year-old on fire.

But Gohar managed to lift her game and turn the match around by saving four game balls in the second game to snatch it 12-10. From then on she was in total control, dominating the court to secure the title 6-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-8.

“I can’t believe it,” said a delighted Gohar. “I was 1-0 down and 10-7 down in the second game and I was just trying to stay on court and not be beaten 3-0 in the final. I tried to fight for every point and it paid off in the end. I managed to change it up and push myself – I told myself it is a final and you have to give everything to win and I’m so happy to win – it’s an amazing feeling to win a World Series tournament.”

In the men’s final 28-year-old Ashour looked to have put his recent injury demons to bed as he came through a highly competitive and entertaining five-game battle with compatriot Karim Abdel-Gawad, the world No 8 who was competing in his first ever PSA World Series final.

Hong Kong Open champion in 2010 and 2012, Ashour has endured an injury-plagued two years on the tour, with repeated hamstring difficulties restricting him to competing in only a dozen events. But he looked to be back to his unpredictable best during a five game battle that saw both players enjoy spells of dominance. It was Ashour who pulled away in the decider for an 11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 win and a 28th career PSA title.

“It feels great to win here and winning the title means so much to me,” said Ashour. “I played a very tough opponent today. Karim’s very smart and fluid on court so it is not easy to beat him. He’s actually one of my favourite players on tour. It was a collaboration of ideas to get past him but I thought it was a great show and I think we both enjoyed it.

“It’s been a tough journey for me to get here but I’ve always wanted it so much. I feel empty without squash – playing fulfils everything inside me. I appreciate being able to play and to lunge without pain is such a blessing – I’ll do whatever it takes to keep being the best I can be.

“I have so many people to thank – my parents, coaches, physio, promoters, sponsors, doctors, lawyers and fans – they’ve all helped me get to where I am now.”

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