Macau Open 2017

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Macau Open 2017
19-24 Sep, Macau, $50k x2

24-Sep, Finals:

[2] Nouran Gohar
(Egy) 3-0 [4] Joelle King (Nzl)
             1
3/11, 11/7, 12/10 (48m)
[2] Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 3-0 [4] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
            
11/1, 11/4, 11/4 (29m)
 

It's an Egyptian Double in Macau
Alex Wan reports

It was a double Egyptian delight as second seeds Mohamed Abouelghar and Nouran Gohar took top honours at the rain interrupted finals of the Macau Squash Open 2017. After a few days of good weather with the occasional showers in the morning, the skies decided open up this afternoon. It stopped just in time for the womenís final to start but halfway through the first game, it came back with a vengeance and there was no other way but to move play back to the squash centre across the peninsula.

The women started with a high tempo, both players eager to be in front and taking the ball as early as possible. It was a joy watching them move with such grace. The first couple of points were close, with both taking turns to lead up to 3-3. Joelle then had a lucky bounce on her serve to budge ahead that was followed by a nick. She got another two points to 7-4. The rain came pouring during the next rally and Joelle slipped while hitting a shot on the front right corner, and water was coming down the covers at the right back corner. A quick call was made to move play back to the squash centre, and it was a good 45 minutes before play resumed.

Once back at the squash centre, it seemed that Nouran had adapted quicker and she quickly drew level to 7-7 with her power play. But Joelle got to game ball at 10-8 with a low backhand cross court. Nouran saves a game ball and in the next rally, her racket catches Joelle during the swing, but was only given a let, much to her disgust. But that seemed to have fired her up as she turned up the pace from there and took the crucial first game 13-11.

The second game saw both players continue displaying their moments of brilliances, Joelle with her occasional holds and soft cross court backhands that worked effectively and Nouran with her power play, and the rare soft touches in the front. It was close up to 7-7, before Nouran raced the next four points for a two-game lead, with the last point being another complete blunder by the referee, where a clear stroke became a no let against Joelle.

Both players traded points once again in the third, no one ever taking more than a two-point lead. Again, Joelle had a game ball at 10-9 but was just unable to convert again. Nouran levelled, won the next two points and the two ladies embraced. Joelle King has been dethroned by the world number 5.

ďI think Iíve had five gold events where Iíve been runner up. To win today, itís a big thing for me. Not so much beating Joelle, but itís like a victory against myself. I was a little nervous when play was stopped earlier. Itís not something I am used to dealing with. It nearly happened in China also, but today, play actually moved back. Joelle was leading then and that affected me in a positive way. Iím really happy with the way I stayed focussed mentally tonight.Ē

When asked what she was looking forward to after a good start to the season, Nouran was quick to add, ďI started really well last year too. But I wasnít able to sustain the performance, so I hope to be consistent this year. I do not want to think about the ranking and just play well, the rest will come automatically.Ē

In the menís, second seed Mohamed Abouelghar played flawlessly and treated the crowd at the squash centre with an array of shot making attempts that drew lots of oohhs and aahhs from the appreciative audience. The level of control he exerted onto Saurav Ghosal made things look easy. There was only once that the Indian led, that was the first point of the first game, and he would never lead again.

From the word go, the Egyptian was in his element. After dropping the opening point, he raced through the next eleven points in succession for the lead. He followed this up with the next six points in the second game. Saurav won his first point with a cross court backhand from the front, which drew a loud applause from the crowd. Next, a tin from the Egyptian and Saurav doubled up his points. But after that, it was back to Mohamed controlling the T and sending Saurav all over the court. In a befitting end to the game, Mohamed leapt high into air for a soft forehand volley drop that ended so delicately in the front.

In the third, things were no different. Mohamed always in control and glimpses of his brilliance in shot making were at 9-3, where he hit a counter cross court drop into the nick and what better way to end the match than with a cross court nick off the serve. 29 minutes was all it took for Mohamed Abouelghar to win his second $50k event.

ďIt wasnít as easy as it looked in there. Saurav has been around for a long time and his skills are second to none. When I heard we were moving back here, I thought itís a good thing for me as the glass court is a lot more dead, so itís better for Sauravís shot making. Iím really happy I kept focussed on the change and handled the situation tonight. This is a great start to the season for me, as I usually start very badly. Iím looking forward to see whatís in store ahead,Ē said Macau Open champion Mohamed Abouelghar.
 

DRAWS & RESULTS

Macau Open 2017
19-24 Sep, Macau, $50k
Round One
21 Sep 
Quarters
22 Sep
Semis
23 Sep
Final
24 Sep
[1] Simon Rosner (Ger)
11/5, 11/6, 11/8 (34m)
Joshua Masters (Eng)
[1] Simon Rosner

11/4, 10/12, 11/6, 11/9 (59m)

[5] Omar Mosaad
[1] Simon Rosner

11/5, 5/11, 11/6, 11/13, 11/4 (76m)

[4] Saurav Ghosal

[4] Saurav Ghosal

 

11/1, 11/4, 11/4 (29m)

 

[2] Mohamed Abouelghar

[5] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
11/1, 8/11, 11/9, 7/11, 11/2 (65m)
Harinderpal Sandhu (Ind)
[6] Tsz Fung Yip (Hkg)
14/12, 11/5, 11/9 (48m)
Ivan Yuen (Mas)
[6] Tsz Fung Yip

11/7, 11/5, 11/6 (38m)

[4] Saurav Ghosal
[4] Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
5/11, 8/11, 11/2, 11/3, 11/6 (85m)
[Q] Mazen Gamal (Egy)
Leo Au (Hkg)
5/11, 11/7, 11/7, 11/4 (61m)
[3] Max Lee (Hkg)
[3] Max Lee

2/11, 11/6, 11/5, 11/4 (40m)

[7] Omar Abdel Meguid
[7] Omar Abdel Meguid

12/10, 11/3, 11/8 (33m)

[2] Mohamed Abouelghar

Chris Simpson (Eng)
11/6, 11/5, 11/4 (33m)
[7] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
[Q] Raphael Kandra (Ger)
9/11, 11/7, 11/9, 4/11, 11/8 (68m)
[8] Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
[Q] Raphael Kandra

11/3, 11/7, 11/5 (20m)

[2] Mohamed Abouelghar
[wc] Van Keng Hei (Mac)
11/3, 11/5, 11/1 (17m)
[2] Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy)
Qualifying:

Finals, 20-Sep, from 13.00:

Raphael Kandra (Ger) 3-1 Iker Pajares (Esp)             11/9, 7/11, 11/6, 11/7 (66m)
Harinderpal Sandhu (Ind) 3-0 Abhay Singh (Ind)              11/6, 11/6, 12/10 (35m)
Joshua Masters (Eng) 3-0 Tang Ming Hong (Hkg)               11/2, 11/2, 11/6 (24m)
Mazen Gamal (Egy) 3-1 Evan Williams (Nzl)             10/12, 11/7, 11/6, 11/9 (57m)

Round One:


Raphael Kandra (Ger) 3-0 Arnold Phat (Tha)                       11/3, 11/6, 11/6 (20m)
Iker Pajares (Esp) 3-0 Henry Leung (Hkg)                           11/7, 11/4, 11/7 (36m)
Abhay Singh (Ind) 3-0 Chi Him Wong (Hkg)                         11/8, 11/7, 11/9 (36m)
Harinderpal Sandhu (Ind) 3-0 Manuel Gassmann (Mac)          11/1, 11/1, 11/2 (17m)
Joshua Masters (Eng) 3-0 James Huang (Tpe)                     11/4, 11/6, 11/8 (31m)
Tang Ming Hong (Hkg) 3-2 Martin Svec (Cze)  11/5, 8/11, 11/5, 10/12, 12/10 (76m)
Evan Williams (Nzl) 3-0 Steven Liu (Mac)                           11/5, 11/6, 11/3 (21m)
Mazen Gamal (Egy) 3-0 Ali Miski (Leb)                               11/6, 11/1, 11/3 (21m)
Macau Open 2017
19-24 Sep, Macau, $50k
Round One
21 Sep  14.00-19.15
Quarters
22 Sep
Semis
23 Sep
Final
24 Sep
[1] Raneem El Welily (Egy)
4/11, 11/7, 11/1, 9/11, 11/8 (37m)
[Q] Yathreb Adel (Egy)
[Q] Yathreb Adel

11/6, 11/8, 11/9 (30m)

[7] Joey Chan
[Q] Yathreb Adel

11/5, 11/3, 11/7 (26m)

[4] Joelle King

[4] Joelle King

 

13/11, 11/7, 12/10 (48m)

 

[2] Nouran Gohar

[7] Joey Chan (Hkg)
11/8, 10/12, 11/7, 11/9 (45m)
Vanessa Chu (Hkg)
[6] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
7/11, 11/6, 11/6, 13/11 (47m)
[Q] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
[6] Donna Urquhart

10/12, 11/2, 11/7, 11/4 (35m)

[4] Joelle King
[4] Joelle King (Nzl)
12/10, 11/8, 11/9 (36m)
Nadine Shahin (Egy)
[wc] Liu Kwai Chi (Mac)
11/3, 11/3, 11/3 (18m)
[3] Annie Au (Hkg)
[3] Annie Au

12/10, 12/10, 3/0 rtd (35m)

Mariam Metwally
[3] Annie Au

11/8, 12/10, 11/7 (38m)

[2] Nouran Gohar

Mariam Metwally (Egy)
11/5, 11/13, 11/7, 10/12, 11/5 (49m)
[8] Mayar Hany (Egy)
Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
11/4, 12/10, 8/11, 11/8 (45m)
[5] Tesni Evans (Wal)
[5] Tesni Evans

11/6, 11/5, 11/3 (23m)

[2] Nouran Gohar
[Q] Rowan Elaraby (Egy)
11/5, 7/11, 11/7, 11/9 (52m)
[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy)
Qualifying:

Finals, 20-Sep from 13.00:

Rachael Grinham (Aus) 3-0 Ho Tze-Lok (Hkg)                      11/6, 11/3, 11/6 (25m)
Vanessa Chu (Hkg) 3-1 Milou van der Heijden (Ned)     11/4, 6/11, 11/9, 11/6 (36m)
Rowan Elaraby (Egy) 3-0 Liu Tsz-Ling (Hkg)                        11/9, 11/9, 11/6 (26m)
Yathreb Adel (Egy) 3-1 Tong Tsz-Wing (Hkg)              11/7, 11/7, 7/11, 11/6 (41m)

Round One:

Rachael Grinham (Aus)   bye
Ho Tze-Lok (Hkg) 3-0 Janet Vidhi (Ind)                                11/7, 11/3, 11/9 (21m)
Vanessa Chu (Hkg) 3-0 Duan Si Yu (Chn)                             11/4, 11/7, 11/3 (15m)
Milou van der Heijden (Ned) 3-0 Jemyca Aribado (Phi)           11/3, 11/7, 12/10 (22m)
Liu Tsz-Ling (Hkg) 3-2 Ka Yi Lee (Hkg)                 2/11, 11/8, 11/3, 4/11, 11/7 (45m)
Rowan Elaraby (Egy) 3-0 Peng Zhen Ni (Chn)                        11/2, 11/4, 11/6 (15m)
Tong Tsz-Wing (Hkg) 3-2 Farah Momen (Egy)     11/3, 9/11, 11/4, 11/13, 11/7 (53m)
Yathreb Adel (Egy) 3-2 Hania El Hammamy (Egy)  5/11, 11/7, 11/9, 6/11, 11/8 (53m)

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23-Sep, Semi-Finals
Ghosal takes out top seed as
King's title defence continues


Semi-finals in Macau on the Glass Court saw the men's top seed beaten and the women's defending champion through to the final.

Alex Wan reports

Indian number one Saurav Ghosal put on his A-game tonight to turn the tables on top seed Simon Rosner in the semi-final of the Macau Squash Open. Playing in the opening match on the all-glass court erected on Amidaze Square, Saurav and Simon dazzled the early evening crowd with squash of the highest level.

The opening point of the evening ended up in a let. This was followed by numerous rallies with both players trying to get a feel of the court, playing cautiously and the points were never apart, up till 3-3. Saurav then launched himself forward from thereon, using the lobs and drops to full effect, to take the opener 11-5.

The tides were reversed in the next as Simon returned the favour, launching forward from 3-3 also and finishing in a similar score. Saurav wins the third 11-7 and all looked lost for Simon in the fourth. He was behind 3-4 and later 4-7 and 6-9. He looked tired and wasnít running as freely as he usually did.

But a second surge of energy seem to have come and the German levelled to 9-9, then a game ball at 9-10 to force a tie break, but not before requesting for a change of shoes and socks, which were drenched by now. He saves another game ball at 10-11, before reaching his first at 12-11, at which he requested for his opponent to change his shoes and socks, as it was getting the court all wet, which Saurav duly complied. He returns, but loses the next point to lose the game.

In the decider, the rallies were competitive and close, up to 3-3. From here onwards, Simon once again looked worn and was struggling physically. Saurav sensed that and went a gear up, racing to 9-3 and wrapping up 11-4 for a place in the final tomorrow.

ďIt was a tough physical match. It was great, Simon played really well despite the heat. I wouldíve loved to have won in four but Simon came back strongly to force the fifth. Iím not going to be beating Simon outhitting him - heís a big guy. I just had to do what I do well Ė I have a good touch in the front and I used the height well. Hopefully I recover well and play even better than I did today, so the crowd will have a better match to watch,Ē said Saurav when interview by local player Rachel Wong after the match.

In the second semi-final of the evening, second seed Mohamed Abouelghar won convincingly against Omar Abdel Meguid who was clearly struggling with the court conditions throughout most of the match. After a 76-minute opening match, the blistering pace and length of the rallies in the first game of this match was a huge contrast. The rallies were short, with both players going for winners at every opportunity. It was a close opener, with Mohamed converting his second game ball for the lead.

After the break, it looked like a different Omar had come into court as he employed a highly impatient game, often going for winners and at times assuming they would be as he did chase the return of the shots. It was a first telling sign he was struggling. He fell behind 1-6, caught up to 3-6 and then lost the next 5 points in quick succession. 11-3 to Mohamed and a 2-0 lead.

In the third, it was pretty evident Omar was not able to play as freely as he would like to given the conditions. At 2-3, he sat down for a moment, took a few deep breaths, before playing on. He was able to match Mohamed up to 5-5. Mohamed then broke away to 9-5.

In the next rally, Mohamedís shot went into the tin, and his racket clips the calf of Omar, resulting in an injury break. Omar came back on, won another two points but it just wasnít his day as Mohamed would wrap up affairs after 33 minutes.

ďWe train together day in and day out. We knew exactly what to expect tonight. Itís a matter of who adapted first and I am glad tonight, I did. I knew he had an issue with the humidity so if I lengthened the rallies, I knew Iíd have an advantage.Ē

ďIíve played Saurav before. He chopped me the last time, so this time, I hope to turn things around. Itís going to be a good match because heís such a fair player. Iím looking forward,Ē
Mohamed said when asked about the final against Saurav.



In the womenís matches, both the seeded players advanced tonight. Joelle King, the defending champion, halted the dream run of Egyptian Yathreb Adel, who had played through the qualifiers and took out the top seed en route to tonightís last four.

Joelle was ruthless tonight. She kept the pace high throughout and forced the Egyptian so far back off the T. It was nearly flawless squash from the Kiwi in the first game, forcing the Egyptian to play winners from unideal situations which as many as five or more ended in the tin in the first game. Joelle raced ahead from 5-4 onwards to win six consecutive points for the lead.

In the second, Joelle took off from where she left, employing a very similar game plan of staying in front. Yathreb was made to stay even further back in this game and at times, it looks easy for Joelle. Yathreb only led once in this game, 1-0 and never again. It got to 3-3, and Joelle won the next eight points for the lead.

The start of the third was quick, both players attacking at every opportunity for a quick point. Joelle went ahead 3-1 and the next rally was a long one, with the Egyptian winning and that seem to have given her a little confidence as the rallies were very competitive up to 6-6. Joelle stepped up once again, went into override and overwhelmed Yathreb and close out 11-6 for her second consecutive final.

Joelle said later, ďI didnít know what to expect really. Iíve never played her before but like all Egyptians, I knew she had good hands. I just kept the pressure high and not give her any options. When they get that, they can hold and whip the ball very well. I just wanted to be in front all the time.Ē

Yathreb may have lost today, but she certainly has won herself many fans. The friendly Egyptian said, ďI think the last couple of matches has finally took its toll on me tonight. My legs felt heavy tonight. All credit to Joelle, she played much better than I did today. I wanted to win tonight of course, but overall, Iím happy, itís been amazing here. Hopefully thereís more to come, itís only the start of the season.

I want to take this opportunity thank my coach and brother, Islam Yathreb, for all the hard work he and I have put in to get me back here.Ē

In the last match of the evening, there was some ďlocalĒ interest. Annie Au from neighbouring Hong Kong played Nouran Gohar in a repeat of the 2015 semi-final. It was a contest of contrasting styles Ė Nouran being one of the hardest hitters on the tour against Annie, who uses the lob to slow the pace so effectively. Nouran came out the winner in straight games, but it was anything but easy.

It was Annie who started better, racing to a 4-0 lead courtesy of some reckless shots from the Egyptian world number 5. Nouran pulls one back to 1-4 and then tins the next. Annie comes up with a ridiculous and gets back her 4-point lead up to 6-2, which shook the Egyptian. Nouran comes back strongly with some power play, drew level 6-6 and continues unleashing her power play and wins 11-8.

Annie had her chances in the second game. Having had to come back from 4-7 down, she took five points in a row to lead 9-7, with the last point being a very generous stroke from the referee. She got to 10-8, but tins the next point before Nouran unleashes a low kill to force the tie break. Another low, hard kill and a stroke would give her the 2-game lead.

In the third, it was Nouran ahead all the way. It was a very quick game with short rallies. There was never a doubt whose game this was going to be. 11-7 and Nouran was in the final, and an opportunity to do better than in 2015, where she lost the final to Laura Massaro.

Nouran was asked how it felt playing to a local crowd who was obviously supporting Annie, to which she responded, ďI love having a good crowd, even if theyíre supporting Annie, because they know good squash. Thanks for coming,Ē to which the crowd acknowledged and cheered.




Full report to follow ...
 

DRAWS & RESULTS

22-Sep, Quarter-Finals
Yathreb's dream run continues
as Meguid gatecrashes men's semis

Alex Wan reports

The dream run of Yathreb Adel continues at the Macau Squash Open. The Egyptian has just made it into the semi-finals and this would be her biggest achievement to date. After taking out world #2 Raneem El Welily yesterday evening, she won convincingly against Hong Kongís Joey Chan today. Her previous achievement was a last eight appearance at the 2014 US Open. At 229, she would be the lowest ever ranked player to make the semis of this event.

She started off with a bang, racing to a 6-1 lead before Joey settled and clawed back to 6-6. That seem to have unsettled Yathreb, but she manages to regroup and come back strongly to win five points in a row, with the last three from the forehand boasts.

In the second and third, Joey seem to have found her range a lot better and both games were close throughout. It was unfortunate that at game ball down in the second, Joeyís strings snapped and her shot went into the tin. After 30 minutes, it was Yathreb walking out the winner 11,6, 11-8, 11-9.

A beaming Yathreb Adel said, ďI canít be any happier really. I knew it was going to be difficult as Joey is very skilful. I had to focus and stay in the lead throughout. There were times I lost a little concentration. I like to play on momentum and sometimes I get frustrated after losing a few points. I had to regroup and start all over again. I hope Iíll be able to play my game tomorrow and hopefully go another step further.Ē

New Zealandís Joelle King made it to her second consecutive semi-final after ousting Donna Urquhart. She did not start very well and seemed a little edgy. She was 9-10 down but saved a game ball before Donna finished off the game with a backhand drop to win 12-10.

However, she found her rhythm and raced through the second game for the loss of two points. The third was much closer but Joelle was always in front, closing it out 11-7. Joelle was once again in her stride in the fourth and won 11-4, closing out the match in 35 minutes.

ďI felt a little nervous out there to be honest. I lost to Donna the last time we played and sheís been having very good results lately. Weíve been playing since juniors so we know each otherís game pretty well. I was a little tensed in the first but I stayed confident and stepped up the pace after that. Tomorrow Iím playing the giant-killer. Weíve actually never played before so Iím really looking forward to it.Ē

Annie Au will once again play on the last four of the Macau Squash Open after her opponent Mariam Metwally retired in the third game through a self-inflicted injury. It was a very contrasting match, with Mariam being a hard-hitter and trying to take everything early, Annie tried to float everything and force the Egyptian to the back.

Both the first two games went to the tie-break, and Annie winning both of them. In the start of the third, Mariam landed awkwardly while trailing 0-3 and after the 3 minute injury break, she was unable to continue. A dejected Mariam was inconsolable as her compatriots gathered around her outside the court.

ďI played pretty well the first two games. Itís unfortunate that Mariam got injured and I had to win this way. I am quite happy overall with the way I played. I am feeling pretty confident right now and I hope to play my normal game tomorrow, and not make too many errors,Ē said Annie.

World #5 Nouran Gouhar booked her place in the last four, beating Walesí Tesni Evans in 23 minutes. The hard hitting Egyptian was in a menacing mood as she ploughed through the three games ruthlessly. The 2015 losing finalist will play Annie Au once again in a repeat of the 2015 semi-finals tomorrow.

ďI think I played Tesni once last year. Sheís a tough player and different, sheís got good hands. I had to stay focussed from the first point and Iím pretty happy with my performance. I think Iíll be fresh for the semis tomorrow. I think I played Annie two years ago in the semis also and itís going to be interesting because we both have very contrasting styles. She loves to slow the pace while I like a very fast pace.Ē

In the menís quarters Simon Rosner and Omar Mosaad faced each other in the opening match. It was a fitting opening game as the crowd was treated to squash at its highest levels. The pace was ferocious and Omarís low and hard shots were working very fine today, especially in the second game onwards.

Simon started off with a bang, punishing Omarís cross courts that werenít deep enough. He raced to a 6-0 lead before Omar won the first point, but the deficit was too far for the Egyptian to catch up.

In the next game, Simon continued to play well and got to 10-6 up. It looked like a quick match was coming up, but suddenly Omar started hitting everything low and hard which unsettled the German. Omar won six points in a row to draw level, much to the crowdís delight.

In the next two games, the rallies continued to be played at a high level. Simon always edged ahead early in the games and maintained the lead. It was a match worthy of a championship match and both men embraced at the end of it for a befitting close to the match.

A relieved Simon said later, ďThat was intense and edgy. Weíve been playing each other since we were 10 years old and itís always been tough. Omar has had a tough time and heís on his way back to where he was, and I am happy for him. I felt good out there, pretty happy with how I played and my shots were going in. There were some stoppages, but thatís expected when you have two big guys like us in court.Ē

After a tough opener yesterday, Saurav Ghosal found himself in a much better place today, beating Hong Kongís Yip Tsz Fung in straight games.

ďThe score line is better today. I played much better than I did yesterday and Yip is a good player. He made a good start and somewhere in the first game, I think around 7-4 onwards, I managed to get my feel around the court. I felt I was hitting well the whole game and had a lot more rhythm. Iím happy to be in the semis again and I hope to play better than today. The most important thing is for me to enjoy playing. Winning and losing, itís all part of the game,Ē Saurav said later in the post-match interview.

Seventh seed Omar Abdel Meguid shrugged off a slow start to upset 2015 champion and last yearís finalist Max Lee in four games. The lanky Egyptian looked lost in the first game as he lost a 2-11 game. The rallies were short and Max was playing effortlessly.

But come the second game, we saw a different player in Omar coming onto court Ė a far more patient and organised player. The rallies were well constructed and he forced Max to play another shot, which worked brilliantly. He continues to do so in all the next three games and is awarded with a last four berth.

Omar Abdel Meguid said, ďIím one of the worst starters on tour but Iím working on it! I wasnít mentally prepared to play the long, hard rallies in the beginning. Once I started doing that in the next game, I was much more stronger and got a lot more patient. This is my second semis in Macau and Iíve always done well here, so I look forward to doing one better tomorrow. Both Mohamed (Abouelghar) and Rafael (Kandra) are my friends and we know each otherís game well, so weíll see how it goes tomorrow. Itíll be all out there.Ē

In the last match of the evening, Mohamed Aboulghar of Egypt, the second seed of the event booked his last four place by ousting German qualifier Raphael Kandra. Both players have a very similar style, loving to hold their shots to the last minute and cross court drops from the back were aplenty. But the accuracy and fresher legs of the Egyptian was superior this evening and itís evident in the score line and the 22 minutes match duration.

ďI knew Rafael had a tough game yesterday so I was just trying to extend the rallies as much as possible. Weíve played each other a few times and it went to five, so I knew what to expect. Iím glad Iím through and I play another Egyptian tomorrow. Omar and I, we train together, so we know each otherís game inside out,Ē said Mohamed Abouelghar, who is playing in Macau for the second time.

Barring any extreme weather conditions, play for the semis and finals will be moved to the Amidaze Square in Macau town tomorrow and Sunday.
 


Glass Court ready for the semis

DRAWS & RESULTS

 

21-Sep, Round ONE:
Adel takes out top seed Welily
as Kandra qualifies for the quarters

Alex Wan reports

In the opening day of the main draw of the Macau Squash Open, top seed and world number two Raneem El Welily suffered a shock defeat at the hands of giant killing compatriot Yathreb Adel. Comeback kid Adel, whoís playing in her first event since January 2016, prevailed in a see saw match that saw both players taking turns to dominate different parts of the match.



In the first Raneem had come back from 0-3 down to win 11-4, winning 7 points in a row to close the game. The second saw Yathreb winning the game 11-7, but from just two runs of points. The third was completely Raneemís game as she showed her flair and not making a single mistake. She won 11 points straight from 0-1 down.

In the next two games, the scores were close and both players were never more than three or four points apart. Yathrebís patience and resilience eventually paying off as she scores the biggest upset of the day.

The 21 year old world number 229 was clearly elated with her win:

ďI canít believe it! Since I was injured, itís been tough and Iím just very, very happy to be back playing squash. Raneem is one of my role models and itís never easy playing her of course. I came here with no expectations and no pressure at all. Winning this match surely will give me a lot of confidence and a huge push for myself to go for it in the next round.Ē

Defending champion Joelle King of New Zealand started her defence well with a straight games win Egyptian Nadine Shahin. The Kiwi was given a tough start by the hard hitting Egyptian and was 7-10 down in the first. A run of five straight points saved the game for the Kiwi who now led.

In the second and third, the games were both tight, but it was Joelle who would nudge slightly ahead and kept the lead till the end.

ďI played pretty alright. I donít get to play these younger Egyptians often and theyíre all very good. Iím glad to have come off 3-0. Nadine puts in some good shots and puts the pressure on you. I was 3 game balls down and Iím glad to have won that one. The first game is always important.Ē

ďI am only the fourth seed here so even though Iím the defending champion, Iím the underdog here. Itís an all new tournament anyway and I love coming here. Itís close to New Zealand!Ē Joelle added when asked how she felt coming back as the defending champion.

In the all-Aussie showdown, Donna Urquhart took four very friendly games to take out former world number one Rachael Grinham. The pair, who make a very formidable doubles pairing, played in a way all referees dream of. There were no need for difficult calls, no fishing of lets and whatsoever.

Donna explained later, ďRachaelís my team mate and doubles partner. Itís a shame we had to play each other so early in the competition. Itís difficult to be competitive and have that fighting spirit when you play someone that close sometimes, and today I struggled with it. Weíve played many of times and it took me a long time to get over the respect I have for her. I love her game and I have lots of respect for her.Ē

Things were not as friendly in the following match as Mariam Metwally took to court against Mayar Hany. The pair of 20-year old hard hitters fought tooth and nail in a match that went to the wire. It wasnít the most pleasant one to watch as every other rally seem to end up with someone asking for a let, with more than half of those being denied.

The pair split the first two games, with each one finishing strongly towards the end to wrap up with a series of points. Mariam took the third with a strong finish in the end once again and was 10-7 up in the fourth. She blew all of them off and a tin brought the score level to 10-all. Another tin gave Mayar game ball which she converted the first time asking. In the decider, Mariam once again finished strongly, stringing together six straight points from 5-all to earn a place in the last eight tomorrow.

Tesni Evans of Wales also booked her quarters berth after winning a 3-1 battle against former world number two Jenny Duncalf. After falling to a two game deficit, with the second being a tie-breaker, Jenny came back strongly to take the third 11-8. She even played well to stay in the fourth, but at 8-8., Tesni manages to win three points in a row to seal the match 11-8.

Seventh seed Joey Chan won the all-Hong Kong battle, beating qualifier Vanessa Chu in four games to progress, while compatriot Annie Au had an easy afternoon against local wild card Liu Kwai Chi, who was dissatisfied with her performance today, citing ďI had prepared myself to play with Annie, but when she started to play at a slower pace and put in all her lobs, that threw me off a little. I feel I could do better, but Iím just not very happy with myself today.Ē

In the battle of the world junior champions Nouran Gohar, the world number five came out tops after a four game battle against pint-sized Rowan Elaraby. But it was nothing easy at all as her younger compatriot played with no evident fear and matched her hard-hitting opponent rally for rally.

While the pace of Nouranís shots were a handful to handle, Rowanís flair on court and deft touches would inflict the harm to Nouran. Four close games and a number of tough refereeing decisions later, Nouran was through in 52 minutes for a last eight berth against Welsh Tesni Evans.

ďRowan has just won the World Juniors and sheís beaming with confidence, the girl has no fear right now. Sheís also had a few PSA events so she knows what to expect. Itís good that I had such a tough match to start off with. Even though Raneem is out, it doesnít change anything for me. It just shows how much depth we have in the womenís game these days. I just have to be aggressive from the start and stay hungry,Ē said Gohar, the second seed.

Kandra joins seven seeds in men's quarters

In the menís, top seed Simon Rosner was in devastating form as he took out English qualifier Joshua Masters in straight games. The lanky German was always in front and never allowed Joshua to lead, eventually wrapping the match in 34 minutes.

The German world number 11 said, ďI am happy with the way I played today. I did well and concentrated all the way. Iím happy to get through in three. Itís my first trip to Macau, and also first time top seed in a $50k.Ē

Omar Mosaad, the 2013 champion, was fully tested by Indian qualifier Harinder Pal Sandhu. After taking an easy first game for the loss of just a single point, Omar was surprised by a rejuvenated Harinder who took the second game. The next two games went one way each, but the decider was a tame affair with the ďHammer of ThorĒ exerting his powerful shots to romp home 11-2.

Fellow Egyptian Omar Abdel Meguid also made it into the last eight with a straightforward 3-0 win against Englandís Chris Simpson.

Things were not as straightforward for last yearís semi-finalist Saurav Ghosal who battled back from two games down to win a thriller in badly umpired game. Not taking away anything from Sauravís opponent Mazen Gamal who played well to his advantage, but there were far too many calls that even a novice referee wouldíve gotten right. Twice in the second game, Saurav requested for a change of referee, but was denied. It didnít help that the decisions were in the hands of a single referee system which was being used for this event.

However, the Indianís experience eventually kicked in and slowly, but surely, he did what was necessary to chalk up a great comeback win. Ever the professional he is, he should be given credit for the way he handled the situation so well.

ďPersonally, I didnít play as well as I should, especially in the beginning. It was difficult mentally to focus given the circumstances like you saw out there. I am glad I managed to turn things around and carve my way out of that deep spot. Credit to Mazen, he took advantage of the situation and played well throughout,Ē Saurav said.

Ivan Yuen blew a 10-4 lead in the first game in his straight game loss to Hong Kongís Yip Tsz Fung. With less than 10 places separating the pair in the rankings, this had the promise of a close one. Ivan had started very well, playing patiently and waiting for his opportunities to attack, which more often than not were lethal. However, after taking a huge lead to 10-4, he seemed to have lost his concentration a little as it went to 10-10 through several easy errors in quick succession, with the last one being a tin. Ivan managed to save 2 game balls before bowing out 12-14.

The loss of that game was costly as the effects of that is evident into the following game, where Yip raced to a 7-0 lead. Ivan manages to get back to 3-9 and 5-10, but the damage at the start of the game was too much to catch up. In the third, Yip breezed through once again; 6-1 then 8-3, but Ivan came back to 7-9 and 9-10. A cheeky attempt on the backhand ended up in a complete miss of the ball and the match to the Hong Kong number 2.

It wasnít a good day in the office for the Malaysian camp as their number one Nafiizwan Adnan crashed out to a very determined Raphael Kandra. Like Ivan, Nafiizwan was in control for most of the first game but a lapse of concentration saw him lose it. He manages to take the next two games to lead, but it was evident towards the later part of the third, he was struggling physically.

Raphael saw his opponent struggling and capitalised on it, quickly taking the fourth. In the decider, the Malaysian number one hung in there for as long as he could, but Raphael was not going to let this win slip off his grasp.

ďIím very happy to get through. Itís my first time making the quarters of a $50k. Iíve played Wan three times and I lost all of them. I noticed he was surprisingly tiring out in the third, so I extended the rallies. Itís also never easy staying focused when something like this happens, so I am glad to make it there,Ē Kendra said later.

Macauís local wild card Van Keng Hei was overwhelmed by second seed Mohamed Aboulghar expectedly, but the young local player did give a good account of himself especially in the first game. While the score would not have suggest so, there were some rallies he managed to stay in to trouble the skilful Egyptian.

Van Keng Hei said after, ďItís my first time playing someone that highly ranked and it was obvious we are very different in terms of skills. I felt I stayed in pretty well in the first game but after that, I just couldnít maintain the kind of pace he was playing in.Ē

In the last match of the evening, Max Lee won another all-Hong Kong battle against Leo Au. As expected, it was a close affair given how well the pair knew each otherís game.
 

DRAWS & RESULTS

20-Sep, Qualifying Finals:
Egyptian girls gatecrash Macau main draw
Alex Wan reports


Egyptian youngsters Yathreb Adel and Rowan Elaraby ran riot over their higher ranked opponents from Hong Kong to gate crash into the main draw of the $50k Macau Squash Open.

Adel continued her giant killing run from yesterday with a hard fought four game win over Tong Tsz-Wing, while world junior champion Elaraby took out Liu Tsz-Ling in straight games.

In the other match featuring a Hong Kong player, qualifying top seed Rachael Grinham avenged her loss to Hong Kongís Ho Tze Lok at the HKFC International two weeks ago with a convincing three-nil score line.

Vanessa Chu was the only Hong Kong player who survived the afternoon after the 23 year old took four games to score an upset over the higher ranked Milou van der Haiden to earn a match against compatriot Joey Chan in the main draw.

Coincidently, all the qualifiers have been drawn to play fellow compatriots, Yathreb and Rowan to face top two seeds Raneem El Welily and Nouran Gohar, and Rachael to play Australia's Donna Urquhart.

In the menís matches affairs went according to seeding once again. Qualifying top seeds Raphael Kandra and Mazen Gamal both dropping a game in their 3-1 wins over Spainís Iker Pajares and Kiwi Evan Williams respectively.

Raphaelís win earns him a berth against Malaysian Nafiizwan Adnan while Mazen will face Saurav Ghosal of India.

Englandís Joshua Masters took out Hong Kongís lefty Tang Ming Hong in just 24 minutes and will play top seed German Simon Rosner tomorrow.

In an all-Indian clash, Harinder Pal Sandhu beat his young compatriot Abhay Singh in 36 minutes and will play Egyptís ďHammer of ThorĒ Omar Mosaad.

DRAWS & RESULTS

 

19-Sep, Qualifying Round One:
Men's seeds through as
Hammamy falls in Macau
Alex Wan reports


It was all according to the seeding in the menís qualifying, with top seed Raphael Kendra leading the way, easing into the next round after seeing off Thailandís Arnold Phat in just 20 minutes. The German number 2 came out victorious with a convincing 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 score line and plays Iker Pajares for a place in the main draw. The Spanish was kept on court for nearly twice as long by his opponent, Henry Leung of Hong Kong, but also came out straight games winner.

India will be assured of another player in the main draw as both Harinder Pal Sandhu and Abhay Singh won their matches to set up a clash tomorrow. Harinder was in devastating mood as he took out local Manuel Gassmann for the loss of only 4 points while British Junior Open finalist Abhay Singh won in 3 close games against Hong Kongís Wong Chi Him.

In the lower half of the draw, Englandís Joshua Masters halted James Huang of Taiwan in straight games to set up a showdown with Hong Kongís Tang Ming Hong, who was put through a gruelling 76 minute encounter by Czech Martin Svec in the longest match of the day.

Steven Liu, the hostís top male player, failed to progress further after losing out to Evan Williams in 21 minutes over three games. Mazen Gamal of Egypt awaits Evan tomorrow after he took out UAEís Ali Miski with relative ease in exactly the same duration of 21 minutes.

While it was less eventful in the menís, the womenís matches had a lot more drama, with world junior finalist and qualifying second seed Hania El Hammamy being booted out by compatriot Yathreb Adel over five games. She plays Hong Kongís Tong Tsz-Wing who went through an equally tough encounter against Egyptian Farah Momen before winning in five.

The all-Hong Kong affair between Liu Tsz-Ling and Lee Ka Yi proved to be another cracker. Lee Ka Yi, ranked nearly 50 places below her compatriot, came back from 1-2 down to force a decider, but it was the more experienced Tsz-Ling who scraped through. She plays world junior champion Rowan Elaraby, who had no trouble disposing Chinaís Peng Zhen Ni in 15 minutes.

Ho Tze Lok booked her place in the qualifying finals tomorrow after beating Indian Janet Vidhi in straight games. The 21 year old from Hong Kong will take on top seeded Aussie Rachael Grinham in a repeat of the HKFC International first round match a fortnight ago, where she upset the books to make the last eight.

Vanessa Chu, fresh from her final appearance at the Malaysian Circuit 5k, was in devastating form as she saw off Chinaís Duan Si Yu in just 15 minutes and will be facing Netherlandís Milou van der Heijden tomorrow, who survived a close third game in her straight games win over Filipino Jemyca Aribado.
 

DRAWS & RESULTS

 

Six up for Macau
Preview from Alex Wan


The Macau Squash Open will be making its sixth consecutive appearance on the PSA World Tour this year. Like last year, it offers $50,000 on-site prize money and bonuses each in the menís and womenís categories.

The event will run from 19 Ė 24 September, and has attracted participants from a total of 18 countries.

The event is organised by the Macau Squash Association with Macao Sports Bureau of Macao SAR Government returning once again as the title sponsors. The event is also supported by TDM as the official media partner and Coca-Cola Beverage Company Limited Macau as the official drinks partner.

Former world #1 and current world #2 Raneem El Weleily returns to the event once again. Her last appearance was in 2014 where she lost in the final to Nicol David. She heads the seeding ahead of compatriot Nouran Gohar, currently the world #5. Hong Kongís Annie Au and defending champion Joelle King, who won her biggest career title here last year, complete the top four seeds in the womenís category.

In the menís, world # 11 Simon Rosner of Germany is the top seed ahead of Egyptian Mohamed Abouelghar. Local favourite Max Lee, who was forced to concede the final last year, will be bidding for a third straight final after winning the event in 2015. Indiaís Saurav Ghosal, who was ousted in the last four last year, complete the top quartet. Hong Kongís Leo Au will also be a hit in the event with the local supporters, especially coming in fresh from victory at the HKFC International.

In the qualifiers, Aussie veteran Rachael Grinham heads the seedings in the womenís ahead of Egyptís World Junior finalists Rowan Elaraby and Hania El Hammamy. Philippines Jemyca Aribado celebrates her break into the top 100 with a place in the qualifying draw. Egyptian Mazen Gamal is seeded second in the qualifiers behind German Raphael Kendra.

Local challenge will be spearheaded by wild cards Ivy Liu, who has once again drawn Annie Au, while Van Keng Hei makes his debut in the menís main draw against second seed Mohamed Abouelghar. Other local hopefuls Steven Liu and Manuel Gassmann will compete in the menís qualifiers.

Macau Squash will be looking for something special from their players after breaking new heights this year. One of their juniors Yeung Weng Chi became the first Macanese to be on the honours list of the Asian Juniors after finishing joint-third in Jordan this year.

The opening rounds of the tournament will be played at the squash courts at the Bowling Centre at Avenida da Nave Desportiva, while the semi-finals and final will be moved onto the all-glass court that will be erected at the Amizade Square in the heart of town.

DRAWS & RESULTS

 

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