LAHORE - Hong Kong players dominated the first round of the FMC International Men Squash Championship 2018 here at the Punjab Squash Complex on Monday.

Pakistan players produced mixed results in the first round as three of them won their respective matches against the country fellows while the remaining three Pakistani players, who played against the foreign players, were severely punished by the guest players.

Pakistan’s Amaad Fareed, Syed Ali Mujtaba Shah Bukhari and Israr Ahmad defeated their respective opponents in the first round to move to the next round. Amaad Fareed of Pakistan beat compatriot Zeeshan Khan by 11/9, 11/6, 7/11, 9/11, 11/8 in 50 minutes, Syed Ali Mujtaba Shah Bukhari defeated fellow countryman Zahir Shah by 9/11, 11/6, 3/11, 11/1, 11/8 in 44 minutes while Israr Ahmad of Pakistan also routed compatriot Abdul Malik Khan by 14/12, 11/5, 11/6 in 24 minutes.

Pakistan’s Muhammad Farhan was thrashed by Hong Kong’s TSZ Kwan Lau in just 20 minutes with the score of 11/4, 11/7, 11/7, wildcard entrant Haris Qasim of Pakistan was outclassed by Hong Kong’s Chi Him Wong in just 28 minutes as the score was 11/7, 11/3, 11/4 while another Pakistani Khawaja Adil Maqbool was beaten by Hong Kong’s Tang Ming Hong in just 18 minutes with the score of 12/10, 11/5, 11/1, 11/3.

In other first round matches of the day, Henry Leung of Hong Kong played a marathon 80-minute match against Malaysia’s Addeen Idrakie and defeated him by 11/9, 9/11, 12/10, 9/11, 11/7 after a tough battle. England’s Robert Downer also took 60 minutes to down his German opponent Yannik Omlor with a score of 11/9, 11/4, 5/11, 7/11, 11/4.

Punjab Squash Association (PSA) President Dr Nadeem Mukhtar, Secretary Sheraz Saleem, Treasurer Tariq Siddique Malik, Vice President Tariq Farooq Rana, tournament referee Tahir Khanzada and a great number of spectators and squash lovers were present on the occasion to witness the high-quality squash on offer.

The foreign players, while talking to media after playing their first round matches, said that they are very glad to come and play in Lahore, which is very beautiful and safe place to play squash. “People here are very loving, caring and squash-loving and we are enjoying here great respect and hospitality, which is really appreciable. Some of the Pakistani players are very good and we can expect tough fight against them. Gradually, the championship will be tougher and the participants have to work very hard to brighten their chances of winning this prestigious event.”

Today (Tuesday), the second round matches will be played at the Punjab Squash Complex and the winners will qualify for the quarterfinals will be played tomorrow (Wednesday) in four-glass court installed here at a local hotel.