Nour El Tayeb and Leo Au are the 2017 HKFC International Champions, after contrasting final victories in front of a packed crowd at Hong Kong Football Club.
Tayeb, the second seed, took the initiative from the outset against fourth seeded Indian Joshna Chinappa, who was appearing in her second consecutive HKFC final.
Tayeb raced to early leads, 7-1 in the first and 6-2 in the second, converting them both 11-4 as Chinappa found some traction but too late. The pattern continued in the third, and the Egyptian claimed her first title in almost two years, taking the third 11-4 in just under half an hour.
“I knew that Joshna had a hard match yesterday,” said Tayeb, “so I tried to make it fast from the start and it seemed to work. Joshna’s a fighter, she came back a little but I managed to close out each game.
“I’m delighted to win the title on my first visit here, I really enjoy being in Hong Kong and I haven’t won four matches in a row for a long time!”
Title joy for Nour El Tayeb
An Egyptian double looked on the cards as third seed Omar Mosaad took a two-game lead over local favourite Leo Au. Neither game was easy, but Mosaad, champion here in 2012, looked too strong for first-time finalist Au.
Spurred on by the crowd, the Hong Kong man fought back well to take the third, coming from 4-6 down to take it 11-6 with the match already over the hour mark
Au took that momentum into the fourth, working his way to a 10-7 lead. Mosaad saved all three game balls, two with crisp winners, and had three match balls of his own at 11-10, 12-11 and 13-12, all of which Leo saved with positive attacks.
Two errors from Mosaad – probably more than Au had made in the whole match to date – and the match moved into a decider.
Au was always just ahead in a tense fifth, completing the comeback at the first attemps as Mosaad hit the ball back to the centre of the court for an obvious stroke.
Leo Au roars with delight after his victory
“When I was 2-0 down I didn't really think about anything, I just told myself to do my best and keep the rallies going. At 10-7 in the fourth he played some good shots, then I did the same to save those match balls – it was very tense, I was so happy to win it on my first match ball in the fifth!
“I've played Omar a few times and that's the first time I've beaten him, and like I said yesterday I haven't done well in this tournament before so to win it in my first final feels great.”