David Triumphs With Seventh Hong Kong Title

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Nicol in excellent form. Photo by SquashSite.

Nicol David completed her seventh back-to-back Hong Kong title after winning the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Squash Open.

The 29-year-old from Penang, Malaysia looked assured in her defence of the competition from her very first game, as she worked through the early stages of the competition seemingly untroubled. Defeating Sarah Kippax and Joey Chan in the first two rounds of the $70,000 World Series event took less than half an hour, whilst her quarter-final contest against Kasey Brown was exactly 30-minutes.

David, seeded first for the week, was made to work more by the experienced Natalie Grinham, whom she first played back in 2000.  In their 31st WSA meeting the Dutch international forced her opponent short in the first game, which the Malaysian took a while to adjust to, but the former world No.2 couldn’t maintain the pressure before succumbing in 40minutes.

By contrast, her final opponent 23-year-old Camille Serme had seen some serious court-time this week, amassing over three hours of play thanks to lengthy wins over Aisling BlakeLow Wee Wern and Omneya Abdel Kawy.  Her only comparative respite came in the quarter-finals as she took just 28-minutes to supressRachael Grinham’s advances.

You could forgive the world No.13 from Creteil, France for feeling the effects of her journey to the final, but the eleventh seed showed little sign of fatigue or nerves as the pair launched in to a close first game battle on the Hong Kong harbour-front.

David, fast and agile as ever, maintained constant pressure on Serme, whose short volleys and slow lobs were combining to good effect against the world champion.  Consistency was occasionally lacking from the Frenchwoman however, and the error-count weighed against the younger player as she lost the first game.  Heightened pressure saw a similar outcome in the second, with Serme hitting a number of tins in her attempts to find the winning shot against David’s impeccable retrieving.

The Malaysian seemed comfortable though, and was happy to scurry around the court, getting the ball back and waiting for the loose shot.  She took the second game by a wider margin, but Serme was not going down easily.  The underdog hit back in the third, varying the pace to trouble David, and some well aimed front court efforts broke the mid-game deadlock and allowed the French national champion a way back into the contest, which she duly took.

David returned to court refocused, and weathered the Serme storm throughout the early stages of the fourth game.  The Texas Open champion had shown fleeting signs of fatigue earlier in the tie, and David was happy to extend the rallies and wait for Serme to make the tired errors, which did come.  Always threatening throughout the game, David was able to see off the match in four games, an exciting climax to a mostly rain-free finals day at the Hong Kong harbour-side, in front of an on-looking International Olympic Committee.

David was buoyant on her seventh title, and 40th undefeated match in Hong Kong.  She said afterwards, ““I think I played a good game today, but Camille got more and more confident with her shots.  I had to play tighter in the fourth, making the rallies as tough as I could.

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

Both players have two weeks to recover ahead of the WSA Cayman Islands World Open, which runs from the 14-21st December, featuring all of the WSA’s biggest names.

Final:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [11] Camille Serme (FRA)  11-9, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7 (58m)

 

2012 Hong Kong Open Champions—Ramy Ashour and Nicol David.

Note: [5] Ramy Ashour (Egy) beat [1] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 (11/8, 3/11, 11/7, 11/6) in a 64 minute thriller.

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