The city of Hong Kong brings such nostalgic feelings every time I come back. Winning my first World Open title in 2005 is still vivid in my mind. Now, 4 years later , Hong Kong becomes the highlight again for the Men’s and Women’s squash calendar.
A little insight of what went on during the week :
My first meeting was with a fellow Squash Stars Ambassador from Denmark—Line Hansen and she really played out of her skin that day. Every shot she went for came in. I knew at times when she was leading, I had to keep my composure and play the big points well. That’s how I managed a 3-0 win.
After playing Rebecca Chiu in nearly every Hong Kong Open, I think she was expecting to bring her game up for her home crowd that day. I sensed she was about to give it a big push with the local supporters cheering her on but I had to make sure I kept my game together. Everything worked well for me as I got a better feel of the court after my first round.
Another meeting with Jenny Duncalf in the Quarters and this time you could see she wanted it badly. She had some amazing shots coming in the first few rallies, then she kept wanting to do more. The pace was fast and the ball kept coming back so I used my time better on the ball to place my shots well throughout the match. Some unforced errors from her gave me some leverage but in the third she pushed hard to keep it a close one.
Just fresh from beating Alison Waters 3-2 the day before, Laura Massaro was on the glass court with me at the Plaza Hollywood to start the semis day off live on TVB Pearl Hong Kong. The atmosphere was buzzing with enthusiastic squash fans and curious shoppers who stopped to watch the game. It felt like being back in Malaysia, playing at the Curve or Berjaya Times Square. Laura got off to a good start as I was still trying to get going on the glass court. There was a moment in the first game where I found my movement and feel of the ball all at the same time and took it on immediately. Despite me winning the first 2 games, Laura never gave up and was leading 10-9 game ball in the third. It leveled to 10-10 after the ball was lost in between the seats outside the court and we had to change to a new ball. An odd bounce from my shot and 2 long rallies later, I got the match.
The last match of the tournament and I’m up against Omneya Abdel Kawy who beat Rachael Grinham 3-0 in the other semis. Omneya came out with everything she had and threw shots like no other squash player can. She’s a natural talent and I had to be ready for unexpected shots coming from this shot maker. My game and focus were at its’ peak and I could hardly remember my whole match. I went onto the court just keeping that ball going and the pace was fast! If I had lost my focus off the ball, it would have sped past me in the blink of an eye. Great match from the two of us and definitely more to come.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 5 years since winning here at the Worlds and to win this Hong Kong Open title 4 times in a row, I must say that this city has something special that keeps me going… I think it’s the food and the shopping too!
Cheers to everyone who’s been following the updates. See you back here again from Brooklyn Heights, New York for the Carol Weymuller Open come early November.