Traditional Chinese musicians and dancers regaled athletes, officials and volunteers at the Closing Ceremony dinner for the CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship in Dalian as the Liaoning Province seaport city celebrated the successful staging of the historic first world squash championship to be held on mainland China.
Egypt, with a powerful squad boasting four world top six-ranked players, successfully defended the title – beating seven-times champions England to claim the title for a fourth time in 10 years.
Defending champions Egypt fulfilled their seeding in the CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship in China, successfully retaining their title by beating perennial rivals England, the No.2 seeds, 2/0 in the final of the biennial World Squash Federation championship at the Xigang Gymnasium in the seaport city of Dalian.
It was the two nations’ fifth meeting in the final in since 2006 and Egypt’s fourth triumph over the seven-times champions.
Things looked to be going the way of the favourites early in the opening match between the third strings Nouran Gohar and Londoner Alison Waters (both pictured below). Such is the might of the Egyptian squad that they were able to rest their number one – the world No.1 Nour El Sherbini – yet still field at third string Nouran Gohar, the squad number four who is ranked six in the world!
Gohar raced to a two-game lead – but Waters, earning her 140th international cap for England, battled back to level the match. It took just less than an hour but Gohar finally nailed her opponent, winning 11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 7-11, 11-7 in 55 minutes.
Experienced Egyptian world team championship campaigner Raneem El Welily then faced England’s Laura Massaro – both former world number ones. The match was the pair’s 31st meeting since May 2004 – with the English player having a 19-11 head-to-head advantage going into the match.
El Welily, the reigning world No.2, took a two-game lead over Massaro (both pictured above) before the Lancashire lass reduced the deficit by winning the third game. But the fourth game was a short affair, El Welily dropping just three points before winning 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3 to give the title to Egypt.
“You always forget about how hard it is for managers and coaches to watch the players – especially on the women’s side where it’s all about tactical squash,” said Egypt coach Amr Shabana, the four-time world champion afterwards. “The attrition and speed has gone up in the last ten years. But at the end of the day it’s very tactical – and you can see the tactics going back and forth.
“So I am very proud of the girls especially after Nour El Sherbini messed up her Achilles tendon yesterday – so I am very happy that they stuck together and kept it together.”
When asked if the approach to this fifth final against was any different from before, Shabana responded: “I tried to fire them up: I asked them, just before they started to warm up, how many times they have won the world team title? I know England has won it seven times – but how many times have you won it, how many times did England win it?
“It is only four. So I said, you are not exactly favourites here; you are not used to that feeling. You still have a long time before you can say you are dominant – and that’s what I wanted them to know. I wanted to remind them, it’s not us on top of the mountain, it’s actually England on top of the mountain. It’s up to us to work our way up to that.”
When reminded that Australia have won the title nine times, Shabana immediately said: “So we are not even among the two best teams yet! We might be higher in the rankings but by far we’re not the most dominant nation as of yet. Yes, we’re higher-ranked right now, but people tend to think we have always been this!”
Which nations represented the biggest potential threat to Egypt in the future? “Hong Kong, Malaysia and India – in that order,” said the coach. “After that you can see USA coming up next. Hong Kong have an amazing system, as does Malaysia. And USA wants to show off that university mentality.”
England coach David Campion was not dismayed by his team’s performance: “We were fairly confident Alison might be able to get us off to a decent start with her track record against Gohar. But, to be fair, both Raneem and Gohar played really well for Egypt – both played superb squash. And from 2/0 down when Al came back I thought she might be able to do – but it wasn’t to be.
“They both gave it everything. Laura’s match with Raneem was a quality match. Raneem was superb and when she plays like that she’s very difficult – she beats everybody when she plays like that.
“We can’t really be too disappointed with the outcome when you see the level of squash they play at today.
For the fifth year time in seven years, Egypt and England will contest the final of the CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship in China after the top two seeds survived semi-finals in the biennial World Squash Federation championship which went the full distance.
Defending champions Egypt, boasting a powerful squad featuring four players in the world top six, were the first to make the final after overcoming surprise opponents Hong Kong China, the fifth seeds who defeated No.3 seeds USA in the quarter-finals at the Xigang Gymnasium in the city of Dalian.
Second string Raneem El Welily, currently the world’s second best player, eased Egypt ahead following a straight games win over Hong Kong left-hander Joey Chan. But the favourites suffered an uncharacteristic setback – for the second time in 24 hours – when top string Nour El Sherbini, the world No.1, went down in five games to the top-ranked Hong Kong player Annie Au (both pictured above).
Au led 1/0 and 2/1 – then squandered a match ball in the fourth before finally closing out the match 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3 to level the tie. Despite a brave fight in the decider, HK event debutant Lee Ka Yi, the fourth string ranked 57 in the world, was no match for Nour El Tayeb, going down to the world No.3 from Egypt 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (both pictured below).
“Our number one player is always going to have a tricky match,” said Egypt coach Amr Shabana later. “But you have to give it to the Hong Kong federation – their system is amazing. I remember maybe 15 years ago, it was a surprise when a Hong Kong player did well – now it’s not a surprise! The Hong Kong federation and the national team should be very proud of themselves.
“Even their number four player today was playing against our number three player – and she was very promising. As the Egyptian national team, we have to be very proud to have got through this match.
“But we’re in the final now, so as far as I’m concerned, it’s job done for me. It was up to me not to lose before the final, and if we do win this tournament none of the credit is to me. We’re playing with the best players in the world and all I am trying to do is manage them and get the best out of them. Once they step out on court tomorrow it’s up to them. So far so good!”
The later semi-final bore a striking similarity to the first – when England took the lead, then saw surprise opponents France, the sixth seeds, strike back before the second seeds restored order with a straightforward win in the decider.
In only the fourth championship meeting between the two nations in 31 years, England moved ahead through Sarah-Jane Perry, who beat French opponent Coline Aumard 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6.
France then registered their first ever match win over England in the competition when world No.5 Camille Serme extended her 11-8 head-to-head record over Laura Massaro by beating the former world No.1 9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7 to level the tie.
With some 200 world ranking positions between them, it was perhaps no surprise that England’s experienced world No.10 Alison Waters needed only three games to overcome French opponent Melissa Alves (both pictured above) 11-6, 11-3, 12-10 to put England into the final.
The semi-final success extends England’s remarkable record of having been in every final, bar one, since 1981 – 37 years ago!
“It’s never straightforward,” explained England coach David Campion. “Especially when you’ve got players shooting at you like you saw at the end there with Melissa.
“Our team is vastly experienced – but there are a lot of top players here, so you’ve got to prepare for every match. You can’t expect to just walk into a final. We’ll push Egypt as hard as we can!”
There was drama in both the ties in the play-offs for the 5-8 places. Third seeds USA beat No.7 seeds New Zealand – third string Reeham Sedky being taken the full distance by the Kiwi No.2 Amanda Landers-Murphy before winning 11-6, 10-12, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8 in 57 minutes, then US No.1 Amanda Sobhy pulling through against Joelle King (both pictured in action below) when the NZ world No.4 was forced to retire hurt with a toe injury to her left foot.
“We had to regroup after yesterday’s loss – of course, we were disappointed,” admitted US coach Thierry Lincou. “We rested Reeham and today she was fresh and ready to go. We hoped she would inject some positivity into the group and she had good start – it was close but she did a good job
“We knew that the second match would be tough especially after Amanda’s match yesterday and Joelle’s win yesterday. So we knew that the first one would be important.
“So winning the first one enabled us to relax. We knew had the advantage in the first string.
“Then Amanda went out there very relaxed and played super squash.”
USA move progress to meet Malaysia in the playoff for fifth place for the second time in a row after the No.4 seeds triumphed over eighth seeds Canada. Playing in the event for the first time since 2014 after a two-year layoff following knee surgery, Low Wee Wern gave Malaysia the perfect start by fighting back from 2/0 and match-ball down to beat Danielle Letourneau (both pictured below) 6-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-2, 11-5.
Team number one Nicol David clinched the win by beating Samantha Cornett 11-8, 11-2, 11-8 before 16-year-old Aifa Azman showed enormous promise by beating Canadian Hollie Naughton 11-6, 11-4 in the best-of-three dead rubber.
“It was good today – Wee Wern was great,” said Malaysian coach Peter Genever. “She played first and was two games and match-ball down and came back and won. Then Nicol was dominant and played at a really good tempo and played beautifully in the end.
“Then Aifa in the dead rubber was good – I told her, we still want to win 3/0 – and she played positively. She’s going to be really good for us in the future. Overall, it was a good result for us.
“Now we’ll play the US who beat us in the same match in the last edition – they came fifth and we came sixth – so maybe we can get a little revenge, but it’s going to be tough!”
 EGYPT bt  HONG KONG CHINA 2/1
Raneem El Welily bt Joey Chan 11-8, 11-8, 11-9 (24m)
Nour El Sherbini lost to Annie Au 7-11, 11-8, 9-11, 12-10, 3-11 (51m)
Nour El Tayeb bt Lee Ka Yi 11-6, 11-5, 11-6 (21m)
 ENGLAND bt  FRANCE 2/1
Sarah-Jane Perry bt Coline Aumard 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-6 (41m)
Laura Massaro lost to Camille Serme 11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 7-11 (52m)
Alison Waters bt Melissa Alves 11-6, 11-3, 12-10 (25m)
France and Hong Kong China upset the form book in today’s quarter-finals of the CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship in China by despatching fourth seeds Malaysia and third seeds USA, respectively, to secure surprise semi-final berths in the 2018 edition of the biennial World Squash Federation championship being staged in the seaport city of Dalian.
It was Hong Kong who produced the event’s first significant upset on one of the two all-glass showcourts at the Xigang Gymnasium. Seeded five, the recently-crowned Asian Games gold medallists came into the quarter-finals knockout stage of the championship as underdogs – having lost to Asian rivals Malaysia in the qualifying stage and therefore ending up as runners-up in the Pool.
It was the Hong Kong number one Annie Au who set the tone for the upset, twice leading against Amanda Sobhy and twice seeing the US top string fight back to draw level. But world No.11 Au (pictured below with Sobhy) led throughout the decider to close out the match 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-5 after 53 minutes to put the fifth seeds in the driving seat.
Fellow left-hander Joey Chan made the most of the opportunity – and repeated her victory over Olivia Blatchford last week in Shanghai by beating the US number two 11-5, 8-11, 11-7, 13-11 in 41 minutes to take Hong Kong into the semi-finals for the third time in a row.
“There was always a chance,” said HK national coach Chris Robertson when asked if USA had been their ideal opponents in the knockout stage. “On paper there was definitely a chance. I don’t think we were favourites, which is why we were seeded five and they were seeded three.
“We played quite well against Malaysia – a 3/2 and two 3/1s, and Annie was 2/0 up against Nicol (David) – so it wasn’t as if we hadn’t been playing OK. Obviously we had a really good Jakarta, so the girls are a little bit more used to winning.
“So today was in many ways our final. We just wanted to give just one last push. Both Rebecca (Chiu) and I told the girls: just use the whole of the court a bit more. Annie and Joey are both good shot players – and Annie just set the tone. She just attacked.
“Once she won, it changed the dynamics a little bit: Joey has a chance, and Joey beat Olivia just last week in Shanghai, so you know you’ve got a chance. And she went out there and played – and used the front of the court a little bit more than she’s done earlier in the week.
“I don’t we were favourite at number three so maybe the playing order today helped us a little bit.
“You’ve just got to take the opportunities when they come – and I don’t think we did that against Malaysia. But I think we did it a little bit more today.
“I’m absolutely delighted. To come here and win a medal is really beyond our expectations. Now we can go and play Egypt with absolutely zero expectation – and go on and enjoy it!”
It was in the evening session that France, led by world No.5 Camille Serme, pulled off the day’s second upset by denying Malaysia a place in the last four for the second time in succession. Serme led by example, taking just three games to overcome her illustrious opponent Nicol David, the former world No.1 (both pictured above), 11-9, 11-2, 11-5.
David, making her ninth successive appearance in the championships since 2002, boasted a 19-2 head-to-head record over the French number one going into the match – and the win proved to be Serme’s third in a row over the past 10 months.
Buoyed by this unexpected advantage, France’s second string Coline Aumard recovered from a game down to defeat Malaysian teenager Sivasangari Subramaniam 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8 before collapsing in tears of joy with her jubilant team-mates (all pictured below) on the showcourt.
“Today Camille played really, really, well – and maybe Coline played her best game ever,” said French coach Philippe Signoret afterwards. “I am so happy for the girls. We were seeded six and we now have a bronze medal – and maybe more!”
Hong Kong now play defending champions Egypt for a place in the final – but the firm favourites suffered a major blow in their tie against 7th seeds New Zealand when top string Nour El Sherbini, the world No.1, went down 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 to Kiwi Joelle King (see below), ranked three places lower.
Order was quickly restored when last week’s China Open champion Raneem El Welily, the world No.2, defeated Amanda Landers-Murphy 11-4, 11-3, 11-2 to level the tie for the top seeds before Nour El Tayeb clinched Egypt’s anticipated place in the semis by dismissing Abbie Palmer 11-2, 11-3, 11-4 in just 14 minutes.
“I know that Nour Sherbini is always going to have strong matches – because, if anything, all the countries have at least one or two good players,” explained Egypt coach Amr Shabana, the four-time world champion, later.
“She started off well – but what I really liked about Joelle today was that her demeanour inside the court was amazing. She was very positive, very composed and focussed.
“For Nour, it is still early in the season and she didn’t have that very high level of concentration that Joelle had. And I think today was a match of attitude – it wasn’t a match of attrition or skill … it was more of a mental match. And I think Joelle, being early in the season, had the superiority today.
“Joelle is a very solid player – you can see from the results – and she deserved her win today.
“This is early in the season and Nour likes to take her time and ease into things. She only started training in August. She likes to peak towards the majors of the year – even though this is important for her. We’re lucky to also have 2, 3 and 6 in the world in the team!
“This has been very good for our players – they are still young, believe it or not. Even Raneem is young in her squash years – so it is good to be in this position today. It’s been very good for us to be put in this position.
“But, in the world teams you are playing for your country – you are not playing for yourself – so it’s very easy to get stressed out. It’s good to experience this stress – it’s very healthy to be put in this position.”
Former champions England were the final team to secure their place in the semi-finals – beating 8th seeds Canada to set up the last four clash with European rivals France. Team number one Laura Massaro battled for 45 minutes to overcome her Canadian equivalent Samantha Cornett (both pictured above) 7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 13-11 – having to save game balls in the fourth to prevent a decider.
It took just 24 minutes to seal the semi slot after England number two Alison Waters beat Hollie Naughton 11-1, 11-6, 11-6.
The third day of Pool matches saw the playoff positions df the WSF Women’s World Teams Champoionship in Dalian, China, decided – top two in each pool progress to the quarter-finals, the bottom two enter the 9-16 playoffs.
Top seeds Egypt, England, USA and Malaysia had already qualified with two wins out of two, and they all played the bottom-ranked teams in their Pools, all wrapping things up with a third 3-0 win to finish top of the pools.
The eight second and third ranked teams met to battle it out for the second qualifying spot in each pool, all starting on one win each. In the morning session the Canada v Australia and New Zealand v Japan Pool A and B matches both went to deciders, but it was 7th and 8th seeds New Zealand and Canada who prevailed to secure their spots in the last eight.
The evening session saw very quick matches, with Hong Kong and France quickly clinching their quarter-final spots with 3-0 wins over South Africa and India.Day Three Matches TIME POOL MATCH DETAILED RESULTS 14.00 B  New Zealand 2-1  Japan 14.00 B  England 3-0 Finland 14.00 A  Egypt 3-0 Germany 14.00 A  Canada 2-1  Australia 18.00 D  Hong Kong 3-0  South Africa 18.00 D  Malaysia 3-0 Switzerland 18.00 C  France 3-0  India 18.00 C  USA 3-0 China Lineups for tomorrow’s playoff matches : QUARTER-FINALS 9/16 PLAYOFFS 14.00 CC2  Egypt v  New Zealand 14.00 C2 Australia v Finland 14.00 CC1  USA v  Hong Kong 14.00 C1 India v Switzerland 18.00 CC1  Malaysia v  France 18.00 C1 South Africa v China 18.00 CC2  England v  Canada 18.00 C2 Japan v Germany
Despite it only being the second day of qualifying action in the CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship in China, it was an important one for the top four seeds Egypt, England, USA and Malaysia – all of whom pulled out all the stops and confirmed their positions in the quarter-final knockout stage of the biennial World Squash Federation championship in the seaport city of Dalian.
Arguably, the key tie was the afternoon battle between Malaysia, the fourth seeds, and Asian rivals Hong Kong China – the fifth seeds who less than two weeks ago deposed Malaysia as the Women’s team gold medallists in the Asian Games
The top eight seeds enjoyed a trouble-free outing on the opening day of action in the CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship – the sport’s first world championship to be held in China, in the seaport city of Dalian.
Squash history will be made when China hosts its first World Squash Championship – and the first ever to stage all matches on all-glass courts – when teams from the five continents compete in the 21st CGG WSF Women’s World Team Championship in the Liaoning Province seaport city of Dalian.
With 15 players from the world top 20 amongst the 62 representing 16 nations, the biennial World Squash Federation event takes place at the Xigang Gymnasium – featuring two all-glass showcourts, with arena seating, plus four permanent all-glass courts – from 11-16 September.
Egypt, with four players in the world top six including world No.2 Raneem El Welily fresh from her unexpected triumph in last week’s China Open in Shanghai, are the top seeds – firm favourites to become the first team to successfully defend the title since Australia in 2004. Egypt open their 2018 campaign against Australia, the No.9 seeds, in Pool A.
England boast the unprecedented record of having competed in all but one final since making their debut in the event 37 years ago in 1981! The No.2 seeds face Japan, the tenth seeds, on day one of their bid to reach the final for the 13th time in a row.
USA are one of only three teams to have competed in every championship since the inaugural event in 1979 – and, as third seeds, are expected to reach the semi-finals for the first time ever.
“It’s feels good to be in this position – it is a sign that USA are recognised as a force in the women’s game,” conceded US coach Thierry Lincou, the former world No.1 and world champion from France (pictured below, left, with his squad).
“But this is just a seeding – we’ve never reached the top four before. After finishing fifth the last two times, it means that we are getting there. We are in a better position to achieve a top four finish. I think everyone is proud and very excited.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment since the last time. We were so happy to finish fifth – but we thought we could have done a little better. We were seeded seven and it was really tough – but the seeding this year is a little more in our favour. That’s why we are so excited – it’s pure excitement, motivation and desire.”
Malaysia, who recorded a best-ever runner-up finish in 2014, but slumped to a sixth place finish last time, are the fourth seeds in Dalian. The team will led by Nicol David, the former world number one who is celebrating her ninth successive appearance in the championships since 2002. Completing the squad will be Low Wee Wern and teenagers Sivasangari Subramaniam and Aifa Azman.
“The top two teams are obviously a little bit further ahead than everybody else in terms of rankings,” admitted Malaysian coach Peter Genever (pictured below with his squad). “Our priority to start with is to try and get through the pool on top and then take it from there. But we’ve got a very strong team. Nicol played well in China last week – she’s in good form – and Sangari’s playing very well, and Wee Wern and Aifa too.”
After two years out with a knee injury, Low bounced back two months ago to reach the Malaysian National final then win three Tour events in a row.
“Yes, Wee Wern came back and won her first three PSA tournaments back-to-back. The game’s changed quite a lot since she’s been out, including the lower tin, but she’s adapted to it very well.
“This event is massive for us. Our biggest event is the Asian Games and the women’s team did really well in the individual event with gold and silver, but in the team event we only got a bronze – so that’s given us extra motivation to do well here and show that we are better than our performance there.
“Hong Kong won it and we’ve got Hong Kong in our group so that’s going to be interesting. We’re the higher seeds so coming top of the group would make it slightly easier for us in the knockout stage.”
The city of Dalian hosted a welcome reception for the players on the eve of the event – as pictured above.
After the region’s leading players competed for seven titles over seven days at the Pan American Squash Championships in the Cayman Islands, it was USA’s Amanda Sobhy who emerged as the most decorated athlete with three gold medals at the South Sound Squash Club in Georgetown.
The 25-year-old world No.18 from New York kicked off her gold haul by winning the women’s singles title as expected, beating her younger sister Sabrina Sobhy 11-3, 11-8, 11-8. Sabrina, a 9/16 seed, beat three higher-seeded opponent to set up the first ever PanAm final between two siblings.
Partnering Sabrina, Amanda collected gold No.2 in the women’s doubles with a straight games final victory over Mexicans Laura Tovar & Maria Tovar Perez (podium picture below).
It was on the final day that Sobhy senior struck gold for a third time, leading favourites USA to a 2/0 win over second seeds Canada in the women’s team final – in a tie that Sabrina also played her part by winning the opening match to put her country into the lead.
History was made in the men’s singles event where Diego Elias became the event’s first Peruvian gold medallist when he beat Christopher Binnie 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 in the final. But 9/16 seed Binnie (pictured above, right, with Elias) also had much to be proud about after dismissing three higher seeds en-route to becoming the first ever Jamaican to reach the final.
Mexico won the first of two gold medals in the men’s doubles event where second seeds Alfredo Avila & Cesar Salazar survived a 129-minute final to see off unseeded Peruvians Andres Duany & Alonso Escudero 11-8, 10-11, 11-8.
The two Mexicans (pictured above after clinching the doubles gold) paired up again in the men’s team final where Mexico secured gold after beating fellow 3/4 seeds Colombia 2/0 – the title clinched when underdog Cesar Salazar claimed his first win in seven years over world No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez, ranked 18 places higher.
Rodriguez claimed gold earlier in the mixed doubles final where, with partner Catalina Pelaez, he beat local stars Marlene West & Cameron Stafford, from the Cayman Islands, 11-8, 11-9.
Men’s Singles Final:
 Diego Elias (PER) bt [9/16] Christopher Binnie (JAM) 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 (42m)
Bronze medallists: Todd Harrity (USA), Chris Hanson (USA)
Women’s Singles Final:
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt [9/16] Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 11-3, 11-8, 11-8 (25m)
Bronze medallists: Danielle Letourneau (CAN), Samantha Cornett (CAN)
Men’s Doubles Final:
 Alfredo Avila & Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Andres Duany & Alonso Escudero (PER) 11-8, 10-11, 11-8 (129m)
Bronze medallists: Robertino Pezzota & Leandro Romiglio (ARG), Chris Hanson & Todd Harrity (USA)
Women’s Doubles Final:
[3/4] Amanda Sobhy & Sabrina Sobhy (USA) bt [3/4] Laura Tovar & Maria Tovar Perez (COL) 11-5, 11-5 (24m)
Bronze medallists: Giselle Delgado & Anita Pinto (CHI), Samantha Cornett & Nikki Todd (CAN)
Mixed Doubles Final:
[3/4] Catalina Pelaez & Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt [5/8] Marlene West & Cameron Stafford (CAY) 11-8, 11-9 (28m)
Bronze medallists: Antonella Falcione & Gonzalo Miranda (ARG), Danielle Letourneau & Michael McCue (CAN)
Men’s Team Final:
[3/4] MEXICO bt [3/4] COLOMBIA 2/0 [Alfredo Avila bt Juan Camilo Vargas 11-6, 11-8, 11-5 (30m); Cesar Salazar bt Miguel Angel Rodriguez 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)] Bronze medallists: USA & CANADA
Women’s Team Final:
 USA bt  CANADA 2/0 [Sabrina Sobhy bt Hollie Naughton 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (25m); Amanda Sobhy bt Samantha Cornett 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (26m)] Bronze medallists: COLOMBIA & MEXICO
After Hong Kong China despatched India 2/0 to clinch the women’s Asian Games Team Championship Squash title for the first time, Malaysia denied the highest-ranked team in the event a historic double by coming from behind to beat the favourites 2/1 in a dramatic men’s final at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The women’s final was a repeat of a qualifying tie 48 hours earlier in which Hong Kong, the second seeds, overcame third seeds India 2/1 to claim pole position in Pool B.
But India earned the re-match in the final after creating the event’s biggest upset by ousting defending champions Malaysia, the team led by the newly-crowned ‘Greatest Player of All-Time’ Nicol David who were seeded to take gold for the third successive time.
The third seeds were unable to reverse the outcome, however, as third string Sunayna Kuruvilla went down in four games to Ho Tze-Lok – before talented left-hander Annie Au clinched gold for Hong Kong after beating Indian top string Joshna Chinappa (both pictured above) 11-3, 11-9, 11-5 in 28 minutes.
“I think they played very well especially under pressure,” HK team manager Rebecca Chiu told www.squashmad.com . “I’m very happy for them and they certainly deserved this success,” added the 2002 Asian Games individual gold medallist. Picture above shows the women’s presentation group.
Hong Kong and Malaysia both reached the Jakarta men’s final unbeaten – and both were looking for first-time title success.
And the elusive double looked on the cards when, in the opening clash between the teams’ third strings, Yip Tsz Fung put Hong Kong ahead with a four-game win over Malaysian Ivan Yuen – after surviving a marathon 20-18 second game.
With the crowd on the edge of their seats, Malaysia drew level when team number one Nafiizwan Adnan (seen above celebrating his breakthrough win) defeated higher-ranked Max Lee 11-9, 11-7, 11-7.
Having not played in the earlier individual event, Malaysia’s second string Eain Yow Ng – at 20, the youngest player in the squad – had no Games history against his Hong Kong opponent Leo Au, the 2018 men’s individual gold medallist.
But in the biggest match of his career so far, the young Malaysian truly came of age when he trounced Au in straight games, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 in 36 minutes to bring the gold medal to Malaysia.
“As a team we bonded well,” said the jubilant Ng (pictured above with his team-mates in the men’s presentation group) after his seventh straight win in the championship. “We came into the tournament knowing that we can win and we certainly did it.
“I always believed that Nafiizwan will deliver a point for us and I was really just focused on my own game. But I also did my homework well. I did a lot of video analysis and the fact that I didn’t play in the individual but managed to beat the individual champion, certainly worked out well in the end.”
Malaysian captain Adnan was also in jubilant spirits (as seen above) at finally clinching a Games team gold in his third appearance in the event.
“I did not want to bow out of my third Asiad without a fight. I was on the losing team twice already so I really gave it everything I had. Of course there was pressure when Ivan lost. But pressure is like a dessert and I love dessert.”
IOC President Thomas Bach was guest of honour on Squash team finals day at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex. Picture below shows Bach, far right, receiving a presentation from Asian Squash Federation President David Mui.
After previously only having contested the women’s final (in 2010), Hong Kong China will compete in both Asian Games Team Championships Squash finals for the first time on Saturday following 2/0 victories in both semi-finals at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In the men’s semis, the favourites despatched second seeds India – top string Max Lee seeing off Indian number one Saurav Ghosal (pictured above, right, with Lee), the highest-ranked player in the tournament, 11-7, 11-9, 13-11 before the recently crowned Asian Games individual gold medallist Leo Au battled for four games to overcome Indian Harinder Pal Sandhu 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3.
“Max and myself played a tough individual final,” Au later said. “We’re glad we managed to have been able to take turns to rest the last two days, which helped us recover. Hopefully, we’ll both be at our best again tomorrow and go for another gold.”
Hong Kong’s opponents will be Malaysia, the No.3 seeds who reached the final for the third time in a row by beating fourth seeds Pakistan 2/0 – team number one Nafiizwan Adnan claiming his first win in the tournament with an 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 victory over Pakistani Tayyab Aslam before Eain Yow Ng sealed the place in the final after overcoming Israr Ahmed 7-11, 11-8, 16-14, 11-6.
Ng (pictured above, foreground,in semis action) said later: “Really happy to have won that and close the tie out. He had nothing to lose and was firing everything in, but I just stuck to my game and made it tough for him. It was a tough one but really happy to get Malaysia through.”
The day’s biggest shock took place in the first women’s semi-final when third seeds India beat favourites and defending champions Malaysia 2/0 – thereby ending the legendary Nicol David-led team’s eight-year reign as Asian Games champions.
Indeed David, who came into the team event as women’s individual gold medallist for a record fifth time, suffered her first defeat in Jakarta at the hands of Indian number one Joshna Chinappa. It was only in April that Chinappa (pictured above, foreground, with Nicol) was able to end a 14-match losing streak to the Malaysian superstar stretching back to the Asian Championships in 2002.
Clearly invigorated by this breakthrough win, Chinappa further reduced the head-to-head deficit, stemming a courageous comeback by David to beat the former world number one 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9 in 66 minutes.
Team-mate Dipika Pallikal Karthik took full advantage of this unexpected lead, going on to beat Malaysian second string Low Wee Wern 11-2, 11-9, 11-7 to secure the unexpected place in the final.
The ever-magnanimous David, who will now add a bronze medal to her collection of seven Asian Games gold medals, said later: “The Indian team, they played very well today. We just lost to a stronger team today. We have a good team and it’s just unfortunate that they were better today.
“Winning a medal here is still something to be proud of. We came and we fought hard. I don’t think any of us would go into the court not giving our best and that’s the main thing.”
India now have to face Hong Kong in their second tie against the second seeds in 48 hours.
Led by world No.11 Annie Au, Hong Kong denied Japan a place in the final by beating the fourth seeds 2/0.
Japan were celebrating their first time in the medals and losing second string Misaki Kobayashi, the team’s captain, said later: “This is my third Asian Games and it means a lot to me to go home with a bronze medal as this is one of my last tournaments as a full time professional player.
“Four years ago we lost out a semi-final place to Korea very closely, so we’ve waited for this moment for a long time. Realistically there’s still a gap between us and the rest of the top three countries. So I think we’ve done our best for now.”
 HONG KONG CHINA bt  INDIA 2/0
Max Lee 3-0 Saurav Ghosal 11-7, 11-9, 13-11 (41m)
Leo Au 3-1 Harinder Pal Sandhu 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3 (45m)
 MALAYSIA bt  PAKISTAN 2/0
Nafiizwan Adnan 3-0 Tayyab Aslam 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (35m)
Eain Yow Ng 3-1 Israr Ahmed 7-11, 11-8, 16-14, 11-6 (41m)
 INDIA bt  MALAYSIA 2/0
Joshna Chinappa 3-2 Nicol David 12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 11-9 (66m)
Dipika Pallikal Karthik 3-0 Low Wee Wern 11-2, 11-9, 11-7 (25m)
 HONG KONG CHINA bt  JAPAN 2/0
Annie Au 3-1 Satomi Watanabe 11-6, 11-5, 12-14, 11-9 (54m)
Joey Chan 3-1 Misaki Kobayashi 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-1 (32m)
With a four-player squad all ranked in the world top six, Egypt are firm favourites to retain their title in next month’s CGG WSF Women’s World Team Squash Championship in the Chinese city of Dalian.
The first world squash championship ever to be held in China will take place at the Xigang Gymnasium in the Liaoning Province seaport from 11-16 September. The venue will feature two all-glass showcourts, with arena seating, plus four permanent all-glass courts.
The Egyptian team, looking for a fourth title since 2008, will be led by world No.1 Nour El Sherbini, a two-time world individual champion, and include world No.2 Raneem El Welily, No.3 Nour El Tayeb and sixth-placed Nouran Gohar.
Egypt are expected to face rivals England in the final. The second seeds are seven-times champions after last winning the biennial World Squash Federation title in 2014 in Canada. Former world No.1 Laura Massaro, now ranked seven in the world, leads the team – supported by world No.8 Sarah-Jane Perry, world No.10 Alison Waters, and Victoria Lust, who boasts a career-high No.13 ranking.
USA, featuring the Sobhy sisters Amanda and Sabrina in their squad, are seeded third – ahead of Malaysia and Hong Kong China, who will likely be fighting for top spot in their pool in Dalian.
Initial action will take place in four pools before the top two teams in each pool will progress to the quarter-finals knockout stage.
The full Pool line-ups are as follows (with seeding in brackets):Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D  Egypt  England  USA  Malaysia  New Zealand  India  France [ 5] Hong Kong  Canada  Australia  Japan  South Africa [13/16] Germany [13/16] Finland [13/16] China [13/16] Switzerland
Since its launch in 1979, the Women’s World Team Championship has been held in 11 different countries across all five continents – the most recent being France in 2016 when Egypt won the title for the third time, beating former champions England in the final in the capital Paris.
The final Squash qualifying action in the Asian Games Team Championships in Indonesia saw the women’s team of Japan and the Pakistan men’s team complete the semi-finals line-up at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta.
Fourth seeds Japan faced rivals Republic of Korea to decide the second position in the women’s Pool A – and a place in the last four knockout stage.
Honours were shared after the first two matches – Misaki Kobayashi winning for Japan before Ji-Hyun Lee levelled the tie for Korea. Teenager Satomi Watanabe (pictured above) clinched victory for the fourth seeds after defeating the Korean number one Yura Choi 11-7, 11-8, 12-10 – an emotional victory which put Japan into the semi-finals, with the certainty of a medal, for the first time.
It was in Pool A of the men’s event that fourth seeds Pakistan battled with Republic of Korea for the final place in the other semi-final line-up. The 2010 gold medallists achieved their goal in style – Asim Khan, Tayyab Aslam and Israr Ahmed all beating their Korean opposition to secure second place in the pool.
The key clash in Pool B saw No.2 seeds India and third seeds Malaysia – both of whom were already certain of semi-final berths – go head-to-head for top position in the pool. Underdogs Malaysia clinched victory after wins by Eain Yow Ng and Ivan Yuen, second and third strings, respectively – but Indian number one Saurav Ghosal restored pride in the team by winning the third match, defeating Nafiizwan Adnan (pictured below, right, with Ghosal) 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 12-14, 11-7 in 58 minutes.
Meanwhile Indonesia‘s women’s team showed their promise by recording their third shock win in Pool B. Seeded 10, the hosts beat Thailand 3/0 to record a hugely-impressive third-place finish in the Pool in their maiden appearance in the event.
Men’s semi-final line-up:
 HONG KONG CHINA v  INDIA
 MALAYSIA v  PAKISTAN
Women’s semi-final line-up:
 MALAYSIA v  INDIA
 HONG KONG CHINA v  JAPAN
Asian Games images courtesy of Aulia Dyan
With a fourth day of qualification action still to go, Hong Kong China, India and Malaysia are already guaranteed medals in both the men’s and women’s Squash events in the Asian Games Team Championships at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Defending champions and top seeds Malaysia can look forward to a rest day in Pool A of the Women’s event after claiming maximum points following a 3/0 win over Japan, the fourth seeds.
The men’s team of Malaysia also did enough to secure a place in the semi-finals after beating sixth seeds Qatar in Pool B. But the third seeds dropped the first match after Nafiizwan Adnan went down in straight games to the Qatari number one Abdulla Al-Tamimi (pictured below, right, with Adnan) – the fourth highest-ranked player in the event who has yet to lose a match in the team event.
It was sweet revenge for the 23-year-old from Doha who was denied a place in the individual event semis after losing to Adnan.
Rested after sustaining an injury in the individual event, world No.12 Saurav Ghosal made a welcome return for India and led the country’s second-seeded men’s team to a 3/0 win over Thailand – and a place in the semi-finals.
Hong Kong, favourites to win the men’s gold medal for the first time, beat key Pool A rivals Pakistan, the fourth seeds, 3/0 to ensure their place in the semis. Individual championship runner-up Max Lee beat Pakistani Asim Khan (pictured below, left, with Lee) in four games to put Hong Kong ahead before singles gold medallist Leo Au clinched the tie win for the top seeds.
Meanwhile Pakistan join Japan and Republic of Korea as rivals for second place in the Pool.
But, despite no chance of a semi-final berth, hosts Indonesia continued to create waves in the women’s event. The 10th seeds, making their debut in the event, claimed their second upset after beating seventh seeds Iran2/1.
It was after team top string Catur Yuliana won the opening match that the home side’s second string Yeni Siti Rohmah clinched victory (seen celebrating below) after recovering from 2/1 down to beat Iranian Fereshteh Eghtedari 11-7, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8.
Asian Games images courtesy of Aulia Dyan
Hosts Indonesia took centre stage on the second day of Squash action in the Asian Games Team Championships with an historic Pool upset over sixth seeds China in the Women’s event at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta.
10th seeds Indonesia, without any ranked players in their squad, were making their debut in the Games. After the home side’s number one Catur Yuliana lost to China’s Li Dongjin, her team-mates thrilled the partisan crowd by taking the next two matches to win Indonesia’s first ever tie in the event – second string Yeni Siti Rohmah beating Gu Jinyue 11-8, 15-13, 11-7 before third string Irma Maryani despatched Chinese opponent Duan Siyu11-5, 11-7, 12-10 to clinch victory.
Further action in Pool B saw the top two teams Hong Kong China and India both record a pair of wins – third seeds India defeating Thailand and Indonesia 3/0, and second seeds Hong Kong beating Iran and China, also 3/0
Hong Kong number one Annie Au, the left-hander making her third appearance in the team championships, was in action in both ties – first beating Iran’s top player Ghazal Sharafpour 11-1, 11-2, 11-5, then taking out China No.1 Li Dongjin 11-2, 11-7, 12-10 (both pictured above).
Hong Kong were also in action today in the men’s event. Favourites to win the title for the first time, Hong Kong beat Republic of Korea 3/0 in Pool A – second string Yip Tsz Fung clinching victory by beating Seung-Taek Lee (pictured above, right, with Yip) 11-6, 11-2, 11-2 after top string Max Lee had put the top seeds ahead.
In Pool B, second seeds India maintained their winning streak in the event – but were taken the full distance by Qatar, the sixth seeds. Underdogs Qatar went ahead when world No.28 Abdulla Al-Tamimi beat Harinder Pal Sandhu in straight games.
But team-mates Ramit Tandon and Mahesh Mangaonkar restored order for the defending champions – Tandon beating Syed Azlan Amjad (pictured below, right, with Tandon) 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 before Mangaonkar made sure of the 2/1 win by overcoming Qatari Abdulrahman Al-Malki 11-9, 11-6, 11-2.
Asian Games images courtesy of Aulia Dyan
Men’s 2nd qualifying rounds:
 HONG KONG CHINA bt  REPUBLIC OF KOREA 3/0
 PAKISTAN bt  PHILIPPINES 3/0
 JAPAN bt  NEPAL 3/0
 INDIA bt  QATAR 2/1
 MALAYSIA bt  INDONESIA 3/0
 SINGAPORE bt  THAILAND 3/0
Women’s 2nd qualifying rounds:
 MALAYSIA bt  REPUBLIC OF KOREA 3/0
 JAPAN bt  PAKISTAN 3/0
 HONG KONG CHINA bt  IRAN 3/0
 INDIA bt  THAILAND 3/0
 INDONESIA bt  CHINA 2/1
 HONG KONG CHINA bt  CHINA 3/0
 INDIA bt  INDONESIA 3/0
 IRAN bt  THAILAND 3/0