Qualifying complete, it was on to the main draw at Hong Kong Squash Centre, split over two days with play on the Centre’s unique Centre Court and ‘upstairs’ on court 9. No upsets, just one success for the home players, no sweat for the newly-recrowned world champions and top seeds, but tough battles for two Englishmen …
Men’s Round One (Top half):
Olli Tuominen (Fin) bt [Q] Borja Golan (Esp)
11/7, 11/9, 11/5 (45m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt Jonathan Kemp (Eng)
13/11, 11/6, 11/5 (24m)
 Peter Barker (Eng) bt Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned)
7/11, 12/10, 9/11, 11/5, 11/9 (87m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Max Lee (Hkg)
11/2, 11/8, 3/11, 11/6 (44m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt Julian Illingworth (Usa)
11/6, 11/6, 9/11, 11/3 (65m)
Omar Mosaad (Egy) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
11/8, 11/4, 11/8 (35m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
9/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/4, 11/3 (66m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) bt [Q] Martin Knight (Nzl)
11/6, 11/4, 11/7 (41m)
Women’s Round One (Top half):
 Joelle King (Nzl) bt [Q] Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)
11/8, 11/6, 10/12, 12/10 (47m)
 Annie Au (Hkg) bt Gaby Huber (Sui)
11/3, 11/6, 11/8 (22m)
 Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl) bt [Q] Tania Bailey (Eng)
11/3, 12/10, 11/8 (33m)
 Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt Latasha Khan (Usa)
11/4 rtd (5m)
 Nicol David (Mas) bt [Q] Tong Tsz-Wing (Hkg)
11/9, 11/4, 11/2 (23m)
 Donna Urquhart (Aus) bt Line Hansen (Den)
11/4, 4/11, 11/6, 11/7 (36m)
 Laura Massaro (Eng) bt [Q] Olga Ertlova (Cze)
11/3, 11/4, 11/7 (34m)
 Delia Arnold (Mas) bt [Q] Coline Aumard (Fra)
11/2, 12/10, 12/10 (42m)
Men’s Roundup: England pair survive
Taking over three times as long, a second Englishman followed Willstrop into round two as Peter Barker twice came from behind to beat fellow left-hander 11/9 in the fifth in a particularly tough battle between two top ten players on centre court.
Barker’s next opponent Cameron Pilley removed the only Hong Kong interest in the men’s draw with a 3/1 win over the well-supported Max Lee, who gave the crowd brief hope by taking the third game convincingly but the Australian soon put paid to that, winning 11/2, 11/8, 3/11, 11/6 in 44 minutes.
Meanwhile on the upstairs courts World Open finalist Gregory Gaultiersimilarly beat Julian Illingworth in four games, dropping the third, but that took over an hour in the much hotter conditions, followed by his next opponent (still on the same court) Omar Mosaad who despatched Aamir Atlas Khan 11/8, 11/4, 11/8 in just 35 minutes.
Despite taking an early 5-0 lead against Saurav Ghosal, Daryl Selby found himself two games down to the speedy Indian, but once the Englishman had edged the third the comeback always looked likely and after 66 minutes he went through 9/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/4, 11/3.
The final match of the day finished, logically enough, with a three-nil win form the recently re-crowned world champion Nick Matthewover Kiwi qualifier Knight. Not that it was a walk in Hong Kong Park for the top seed, the bustling style ok Knight kept him on his toes and it took 41 minutes for Matthew to complete the 11/6, 11/4, 11/7 win to set up an all-English match with Selby on Thursday.
Round one concludes on Wednesday with the bottom half of the draw into which six of the qualifiers were drawn, they’ll be thankful of their rest day …
The first women’s match saw New Zealand’s Joelle King survive a tougher-than she might have expected encounter against Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi.
The Japanese qualifier led in each of the first three games but King’s more powerful game brought her back, taking the first two and getting matchball at 10/9 in the third.
Kobayashi stuck in though, and at 11/10 served into the nick to pull a game back. She also had game ball in the fourth but this time it was King who finished stronger to take the match.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable out there,” admitted King, “the racket felt heavy, nothing was really working and I was letting it get to me.
“That was a tougher first match than you’d want but you know these days you can’t take anyone for granted and she played well. ”
Kobayashi was happy enough: “It was a good match I thought, especially since I didn’t get a chance to practice on the glass court. You have to go for your shots on their, it’s quite cold and dead, and I missed a couple of shots at the end of the fourth, but overall I’m happy with how I played.”
King’s next opponent is local favourite Annie Au, whose touch shots, experience of the court, and support of the crowd were all factors in her straight-game win over Gaby Huber.
“I don’t mind playing Annie,” said King. “The crowd will be for her, and she’s not number seven in the world for nothing, but I’ve won most of the times we’ve played so I’m looking forward to a good match.”
A second Kiwi win as Jaclyn Hawkes beat former Hong Kong finalist Tania Bailey in straight games, although the Englishwoman had game balls in the second and led the third 8/6 before going down 11/3, 12/10, 11/8.
“Tania was one of the hardest draws you could get,” said Hawkes, “we all know how good she is, so I’m really happy to get through that one in three. I’m glad I played on the upstairs court, it suited my game.”
She’ll meet Rachael Grinham, the most experienced Hong Kong campaigner of all, who had an easy passage after Latasha Khan, still suffering from an injury sustained last week in Macau, retired after a 5-minute first game.
The crowd noisily greeted young qualifier Tong Tsz-Wing onto court for her match with six-time Hong Kong and World Open champion Nicol David, and the youngster promptly took the first two points to allay any fears of annihilation.
It got better, as Tong led the first 9/7 aided by some uncharacteristic David errors, but the champion, with a record of 30 wins here since 2005 and 22 of those in straight games, tightened up to win 11/9, 11/4, 11/2.
That was followed by a tough encounter between Donna Urquhart and Dane Line Hansen, who shared the first two games, both 11/4. It was the 11th seeded Australian who pressed on to win 11/4, 4/11, 11/6, 11/7 in 36 minutes to set up a meeting with David.
At match ball down Hansen was stranded at the front, waving her racket in submission. Urquhart, still in the zone, slammed the ball crosscourt right at said racket, but when the ball bounced back to her, much to the amusement of the crowd and her opponent, she didn’t make the same mistake again as she put the ball away to finish the match.
The final two matches saw two seeds progress at the expense of qualifiers, and while Laura Massaro and Delia Arnold both won in straight games they were very different matches
“I don’t think she was properly warmed in in the first,” explained the Malaysian, “she played much better in the next two and it was pretty rough on there, with way too many lets, so I’m very happy to get through in three games.”
All today’s winners get a rest day before the next round, with eight more first round matches from the bottom half of the draw, three with Hong Kong interest, set for tomorrow.