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  TODAY in Hong Kong 2012
   Sunday 2nd Dec, Day Eight, Finals                                           Fram & Steve in HK


[1] Nicol David
(Mas) 3-1 Camille Serme (Fra)
                  11/9, 11/6, 8/11, 11/7 (58m)
[5] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 [1] James Willstrop (Eng)
                   11/8, 3/11, 11/7, 11/6 (64m)

Nicol retains, Ramy regains,
on the Hong Kong Harbour

Despite a weather scare, with rain falling just minutes before play was due to start, the finals of the Hong Kong Open took place as scheduled and provided a feast of quality action for the crowd on the Cultural Centre Piazza on the harbourside in Kowloon, as well as for the watching TV and streaming audiences and the IOC delegation here 'inspecting' the event as part of squash's bid for 2020 Olympic inclusion.

They all saw Nicol David triumph yet again, maintaining her unbeaten record here since 2005, and  they saw Ramy Ashour depose James Willstrop to reclaim the men's title.

En Bref #5

Photo Gallery

[1] Nicol David (Mas) 3-1 Camille Serme (Fra)
                  11/9, 11/6, 8/11, 11/7 (58m)


You know you’ve got a Monster when the highlight of a week’s event is: Queen Nicol lost a game. Blimey!

Stats were not looking good for my young compatriot against Nicol. Five matches, never got a game out of the lady, and the longest game being the last one, a whole 42m. As I keep saying to Nicol, thank Heaven you are not paid by the hour!!!

Camille can be error prone, and today, her old demons came back in the first game, 6 unforced errors in that opening game. And yet, she was neck to from the start of the game to 4/4. Nicol run away up to 8/5, but Camille let go of the arm, nothing to lose, and started to worry about the Champion. At 9/8, the French girl was looking good, but quickly, Nicol equalised at 9/9. Two tins, and hop, Nicol was up 11/9, in a long 14m game.

Camille was a bit more patient in the second, and again the two girls were at 4/4, then 5/5. But from that point on, Nicol just wrong footed her opponent several times, and took the ball away from her quite beautifully, forcing errors from her. 11/6 Nicol in 10m.

The third started bleeping well for Nicol, 3/0 then 5/2 and 8/5. But then, it was like Camille was maturing as the match was unfolding. Not one error in that 3rd game for 4 in the second. Perfect lines, nice lobs, good deep cross court, and suddenly, she is stringing the points, 6 exactly, to take the game.

The girl was ecstatic – first time ever she did take a game out of Nicol, and the first one Nicol drop of the whole tournament!

And the momentum was with the French girl at the start of the 4th, 3/0 and 4/1. Things were starting to look interesting for the French interests. But a few unforced errors crept in (devil), helping Nicol to become more and more incisive. Some nice rallies still, with Nicol defending superbly against Camille aggressive and accurate game.

But it’s the undisputed Queen of Hong Kong that takes the 4th, 11/7, winning a 58m match. In Nicol’s terms, a bleeping marathon!!!!!!

This is my 10th year playing the HK Open, but I’ve been playing in their Junior Open since I’m 11!!! It will always be a special tournament for me this one.

This is where I won my first ever world title, and I guess that every time I come back here, I feel that it’s the world title on play all over again, and I just have to win it. And I truly cannot believe it’s my seventh!

Like all the players, Camille was bound to raise her game when playing me, so once again, I had to make sure that I wouldn’t give her an inch. Because she just kept going and going, with nothing to lose. She is a great competitor and one to watch for the future, she just wouldn’t stop!

I always prepare myself for a five setter, but even if we only played 4 games, it felt like 5! And I’m happy to win 3/1, if I had let her come back in the 4th, no doubt she would have taken it further!

I think I played a good game today, my dept and length were good. But Camille got more and more confident with her shots in the 3rd, and also in the middle of the 4th. I had to play tighter in the 4th, making the rallies as tough as I could.

What makes me want to win again and again? It’s that will to improve myself, as a player, also trying to get to perfection, and there is a long way to go.

I just feel old, looking at all those young players, that just keep going!!!!!

When I won the third, it was the first time ever I took a game out of her, so I celebrated as a big victory!!! I was really happy. I think I took another step in the right direction here, I think I have now found a good game plan, slowing down the ball and lobbing more than I was doing previously.

In that 3rd game, I was down, and came back, to stay focused on what I had to do, so I tried and made sure that I could do it again in the 4th, but Nicol is Nicol, and she just was too strong, and I started to be a bit tired.. the match plus all the other matches!!!

But I so wanted to stay on the court a bit longer, I was enjoying myself so much on there. . Same thing at the start, when we had a bit of a rain delay, I was really roaring to get on there, I couldn’t wait!!!

I really hope the IOC liked what they saw. We were a bit unlucky yesterday with the rain, they couldn’t see the men, but I really did my best today to show them how great our sport is….

[5] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 [1] James Willstrop (Eng)
                   11/8, 311, 117, 11/6 (64m)


  Come on, before we start, a little glance at the stats, you know you want to… If we look at the past two years, the US seem to agree with James, as he beat Ramy in the 2010 ToC final, and again when Ramy came back from a 6 month injury break, at the North American Open in Feb 2012. Out of their last 10 encounters in PSA tournament, James only had those two victories.

As for the last couple of times they met, one they didn’t finish – slippery court in El Gouna back in April – and the stupendous semis of the British Open – I still have stars in my eyes when I think about it…

Today’s match was a very mature performance from the Egyptian, but to be honest, after the way James “restricted” Ramy in the 2nd game and the first half of the third, I really thought the Englishman found the key to lock Ramy’s magic. But I was wrong.

If the Egyptian is normally a “wakey wakey puppy” in the first game, making an average between 6 and 8 tins, none of that today. One error in the first game. Not sure he ever had such a lot count to be honest! For the record, James made none bless him.

James was being James in that first game, perfect lines, perfect depth in those back corner, attritional accurate working of the ball, and a drop shot on one foot, but only when absolutely necessary. Ramy, not playing as fast as he normally likes, was happy to match James in his game, and they more or less kept in contact all game, 3/3, 5/5, 7/7, 8/8. But like he did yesterday with Nick, Ramy played the crucial points to perfection, taking 4 points in a row from 7/8 down to 11/8.

Like I said earlier, the second was Master James at work. It was truly a master class, and I really didn’t see how Ramy would beat him if James kept the same direction/execution of his game plan. Because Ramy was not having the cushion of his tins (i.e.: l do 8 tins, if I cut it, I have 8 more points!) as he made only 4 errors. No, in that game, he was completely outplayed, outsquashed to be honest. I thought we had a winner.

Talking a bit to himself, as ever, Ramy seem to put his mad and messy thoughts in the right draws in his brain. Eyes closed between games, he was labelling each and every draw. And he managed to open the right ones as he dazzled us in the match at 2/4 in the 3rd. A superb string of winners and deep shots took him to 7/4 (5 points). Ramy unlock the magic that James worked so hard to lock away.

A massive rally at 8/6, ending by a no let against Ramy who asked a review, only to see his decision upheld. Not happy he was our Egyptian. And made his point clear to the ref. A very calm centre ref explained why they took the decision, and Ramy, not convinced in the slightest, just went on to win the next three points on the adrenalin, 11/7. Sometimes, bad news are good news in disguise, aren’t they…

The fourth was a bit strange, they played by “spell”, we had three point in a row for Ramy, then another 4 points for him, James came back stringing 4 points together, and we were at 6/7 James to serve, and making his third and last tin of the match. But Ramy, unstoppable, full of confidence, winners flowing out of his racquet as James didn’t seem to be able to contain him anymore, scored again the last four points of the match, 11/6.

And that marked the end of a very eventful, late nights, and full of upsets tournament which Steve and I fully enjoyed!

I’m happy to stress that the finals showed four of the fairest/less argumentative players we have, and as far as the IOC is concerned, I’m told it’s a good thing. Although from a personal point of view, McEnroe and Connors are my favourite Tennis players, and I don’t think those two champions damaged neither their sport nor its Olympic status.

It’s also interesting to note that James and Ramy was the ones that were slightly “hard done” as they got one more match than their semis opponent due to the injuries of Peter and Shabana. As if fate has smiled on them after all….

It’s my second HK Open title, I’m very proud of this achievement, and I’ll add it to my special list.

Our sport take a lot out of us, mentally, and also a great physical preparation.And I can tell you we do spend a lot of calories on there! And we have a lot of tournaments in a row, and not much time to rest.

It has been a great week with a lot of tough matches, starting from the first match really. There was no such thing as an easy match in any tournament any more during the whole year a least for me.

So again the most hard aspect about this tournament was the mental battle about wether to give 100 % or not as the world open is coming up... And no one wanted to injure themselves before that major even, plus we all wanted to save some energy for it!!

Whoever planned the schedule maybe diddn't take enough in consideration the players physical condition, and didn't make sure that we would be 100% for the World Open which is obviously very important for everyone, sponsors, players and officials.

All I can say about the match today is that I am happy with my performance and I think that James played a good fair clean match as always.

We did put on a good show which was expected from the World no 1. James has been very consistent all year, he deserves that number one spot, and he is a great ambassador for our sport. He is never easy to beat, but I think that today, things went my way, and that made the difference.

I really wish to thank all the people and sponsors that have made this tournament possible, Tony, Heather and their team, they did a fantastic job as usual.

Also, I want to thank the people who helped me out to win this great title, first my parents, for their love and support, my training partners, my Dunlop Black Max Titanium racket I love, my nutritionist Richard Allison and my Sport Medicine Physician Cristiano Eirale, plus my physios Tino and Malcolm who helped here in Hong-Kong.

And of course, he most important person for me in those past months, my manager Fatma Kader for the support and the work she is doing with me.

Hopefully I can be back to the number 1 spot, I’m training very hard for it and I am looking forward to be back to Hong Kong next year!

It's very disappointing - I was here to win the match and I didn't do that, but I wanted to give my best - and I did that.

He forced me to play loose balls and he capitalised on that brilliantly.

I still want to see the positive out of things, and I guess I can’t be too disappointed as I got to the final two years running, and HK is a serious event!

In the third, he had a good spell, and it took the sting out of me, from 2/4 to 7/4 I think. Up to there, it was fine. I had worked it out, I was able to stopping him from doing what he is best at.

It would be silly for me to try and out-nick him. But as long as I was able to play the good lines, and keep him in the area he didn’t want to be in I then could capitalise. But I just couldn’t sustain the accuracy needed until the end, and that’s something I need to look at.

I did enjoy it, but I was not good enough, It’s all a question of fine lines in sport… Ramy was just too good.


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