Egyptian duo dominate Road to Dubai squash opener

Ramy Ashour and Nouran Gohar enjoyed the perfect start in their bids to qualify for the Dubai PSA World Series Finals, with victory at the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open

The Road to Dubai began in earnest last weekend, as Egypt’s Ramy Ashour and Nouran Gohar took the men’s and women’s titles in the first PSA World Tour event of the season – the Cathay Pacific Sun Hung Kai Financial Hong Kong Open.

Ashour and Gohar both gained 100 points for their victories, establishing an early lead in the Race to Dubai standings as the competition to reach the series finale in June 2017 got underway.

The tournament marked the first time since 2001 that both the men’s and women’s champions have hailed from the same country, with the Egyptian duo following in the footsteps of Australia’s David Palmer and Lellani Rorani.

Ashour’s victory continued his country’s dominance of this event, with compatriot Mohamed El Shorbagy having won the competition in 2014 and 2015. It was Ashour’s third victory at the tournament, having also lifted the trophy in 2010 and 2012. He is now one short of his countryman Amr Shabana’s four titles, won consecutively from 2006-09.

However, the story of the tournament was surely that of 18-year-old Nouran Gohar, who overcame world no. 2 Laura Massaro in a thrilling quarter-final, before comfortably dispatching 10-time Hong Kong Open winner and former world no. 1, Nicol David, in the semi-finals.

In the final, Gohar came from behind to win against American Amanda Sobhy and secure her first major PSA World Tour title. After earning qualification for the 2015/16 Dubai World Series Finals at the last minute, the former world junior champion is determined not to leave anything to chance this time.

“It was such a great feeling to be in Dubai last season and be among the top eight players in the world, so I’m really going to work hard this season to make sure I can qualify again,” Gohar said after her victory. 

“I have started very well here in Hong Kong but I will have to continue to push hard and see how it goes throughout the season.”

In an indication of the competitiveness of the PSA World Series, like Massaro – the winner of the women’s event in Dubai – last season’s men’s champion, Grégory Gaultier, struggled in Hong Kong. The Frenchman was knocked out by another Egyptian, Fares Dessouki, in the second round, picking up 15 ranking points.

The next PSA World Series event takes place in Philadelphia at the beginning of October, as the world’s best players look to secure valuable points at the Delaware Investments US Open. At the end of the season, the top eight ranked men’s and women’s players will qualify for the PSA World Series Finals, which will be held at Dubai Opera House for the first time.