Today 09

• Cathay Pacific Gale Well Hong Kong Open • 12-18 Oct 2009 • 

SEMIS ] QUARTERS ] Round TWO ] Round ONE ] Qual F ] Qual R1 ]

TODAY in Hong Kong: Sun 18th, Day SEVEN, FINALS ...
Fram reports, Steve Clicks away

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [6] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
         11/4, 11/7, 11/7 (25m)
[3] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
          11/8, 9/11, 11/3, 5/2 rtd (48m)

Five and counting for Shabana & David in Hong Kong

After six days of play we came down to the last two matches, and it was very much a case of deja vu ... Nicol David was appearing in her fifth consecutive Hong Kong final, and she still hasn't lost any of them. Omneya Abdel Kawy will be disappointed to lose, but pleased with a week that has seen her reach her first major WISPA final

Amr Shabana was also appearing in his fifth Hong Kong final in a row, and he's now unbeaten in his last 26 matches here (one more than Nicol as the 2005 World Open was a 64-draw for the men).

And for the fourth year in a row the Egyptian faced Gregory Gaultier, the third time in a row they've met in the final, so the Frenchman, seeded and ranked higher than Shabana, will surely feel that it must be his turn soon.

Finals Gallery

Finalists Profiles

"The ball was really bouncy today - as soon as we hit the first one I thought it was a flyer, but we got a new one and it was the same, and it's better for her if we play with a bouncy ball.

"I played the right game in phases, but then messed it up, thinking I had to do too much with the ball. I played a simpler game in the third, putting it into the back corners and straight drops, but I didn't carry on playing like that.

"It's still a good outcome to the tournament for me, but I really wanted to do well today. There's still more to come, so no worries …"

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt [6] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
         11/4, 11/7, 11/7 (25m)


Don’t believe the score, or even the length of the match, and conclude that Nicol had it easy, and that the Egyptian didn’t have much impression on the rallies. You couldn’t be more wrong.

Omneya played extremely well. She was patient, found a good balance between tight drives, hard hitting cross court, and stunning drop shots. In other words, she played as well as she’s been playing all week.

Only difference - and everybody who have ever played or see Nicol play will know exactly what I’m talking about – today, everything kept coming back, and with a vengeance. The shots that Omneya found today, I’m not sure that many players in the world could have picked up, kept finding Nicol’s racquet, again, and again, and again.

Still, the Egyptian never showed any sign of frustration, never got over excited, kept her head at all time. She made a few unforced errors, of course, she is a shot maker, she is bound to, but not that many, I counted nine, and Nicol three, plus a surprising out of court serve on game ball in the second! As you can see, a very high quality match…

Nicol only showed a bit of tiredness in the middle of the 3rd – not surprising, as Omneya made her work an awful amount, and she actually led 7/5. But if Queen Nicol went for a few too early too soon shots, she very quickly went back to her game plan, length, tight, accurate, and short shot when ever possible!!!

All that to say that we saw a pretty good final today, quantity not, but quality yes. Well done to both girls, but of course, congratulations to Queen, sorry, Impress Nicol. Four crowns, that’s start to be an Empire, isn’t it…?

"I always feel comfortable here, I think it’s because it’s the closest I get from home… And I guess Hong Kong is my lucky charm. I’ve been pretty lucky here since 2005, and so far so good…

"Omneya is famous for her shots and her superb feel of the ball. I had to make sure I was preventing her from playing her shots!

"We were both playing at a very fast pace, and we were hitting the ball quite well, but I must say I’m quite surprised to win 3/0, I got to pretty much everything, but although the score might not reflect it, we always have great battles, and today was no exception.

"The atmosphere is fantastic, there is so many people watching, you take it in, and you really feel the vibe…

"Although I haven’t dropped a game this week, this was in no way an easy tournament. All the girls seem to raise their games when they play against me, and believe me, I had to work hard every round. But I just arrived from the Worlds, and I guess I carried the moment with me. I thought I played very well today, I wish it could be like that all the time…

"I always try and improve my game, but no, I’m not thinking about becoming the greatest player of all times, I’m just concentrating on each point, on each match, and on every tournament I play…"


[3] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt [2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
          11/8, 9/11, 11/3, 5/2 rtd (48m) knee injury


This was the match we were all expecting. Greg, who wants to be number one like nothing else in the world – except maybe becoming World Champion – knows he’s got the weapons to beat anybody. When he is injury free. And Shabana, who just spent months experiencing injury upon injury, wants to go back there. And he knows he can, when he is injury free…

During the final of the Super Series, Greg developed an injury to his thigh, and although MRI doesn’t show anything, he’s got a pain that keeps appearing at odd moments. All week, it was fine, but then again, he didn’t push much. The niggle came back right after his match with Thierry, as those two played at an astonishing pace.

And today, from the end of the second, I could see – and so could his opponent – that he was struggling with that leg. And that was it really.

What a shame. Those two offered us some stunning squash. Not ridiculous squash, fast paced and nicks all over the place like Ramy and James played in the quarters, no, but a grinding, tight, accurate, measured squash that was astonishing in its precision and intensity.

Shabana looked pretty good tonight, making six errors (including one that virtually cost him the second game, setting up game ball, 10/6) in the whole match. But Greg looked pretty in form too, and the quality of the rallies, the fairness between the players, giving each other shots they were the only ones to know where down or not up, was a credit to both.

It’s such a shame that Greg couldn’t settle the score tonight with all weapons in hand. I know he is devastated with this recurring injury. He wanted that title badly. But that makes 26 victories in a row in Hong Kong for Prince Shabana, who, like Malcolm and myself have been telling you all week, looked astonishingly good.

Not bad for a 30 year old father of two, is it…..

"Winning my fifth title here is an amazing feeling, especially with the quality of the players nowadays on the tour. If you don’t play well one day, that’s it, you are out.

"Of course, you would like to win a match by winning the last point, not because your opponent is injured, but a tournament like this is five matches, and I beat the World Junior Champion, the World number one on the way, and I’ve perform my best all week I feel. So it’s not just about winning the final.

"At 1/1, I could see him struggling a bit with his movement, so I gave it a big push at the start of the third. You know, Greg is a remarkable athlete, he’s got a perfect balance between defence and attack, I’m sorry he is injured, but I know him enough, we are very close friends, I’m sure that within a week, he’ll be as strong as anything, and probably will beat us all in the Worlds…

"I was world number one for a while, then I lost my ranking, I was injured, but as long as the body holds, I’m up for getting my place back. The equation is really simple. You win matches, your ranking goes up. You lose matches, your ranking goes down… I know what I’ve got to do…

"I come on a tournament with the belief I can win. You won’t see me on tournaments anymore the day I lose that feeling. And for that, you need to have a big ego, because with the quality of the players at the moment, you need to be at your best constantly… And every day, you’ve got to fight, every day… And I was lucky this week, I was able to play exceedingly well."


Men's Draw      Women's Draw      Photo Gallery      En Bref

SEMIS ] QUARTERS ] Round TWO ] Round ONE ] Qual F ] Qual R1 ]

Today 09

[Home] [TODAY] [Draws] [Info] [Gallery] [Twitter] [History]