And so the first (of hopefully many) Sportwerk Open 2018 came to
an end today with the player of the week taking the spoils. Most
spectators had realised throughout the week that hey, this young
Egyptian could be something really special, and they were all
But Bernat Jaume is no push-over and he showed in the final that
he wasn't that far off from the young Egyptian. I feel like
Bernat will be slightly disappointed losing 3-0 - he had his
chances in pretty much every game. It was a cagey start between
the two, a few more errors than we had seen previously. Bernat
played intelligent Squash making sure his width was good and he
used his lobs to good effect giving Ibrahim little chances to
cut the ball off. But the sign of a great player is winning when
you are not playing your best, and that was the story of today.
Youssef Ibrahim iopened up his racket a little more in game two
and we saw a few of his trademark crosscourt nicks. Midway
through the second Youssef got a conduct warning against him for
dissent, which riled him up further and he started playing even
more aggressively, taking the game 11-9.
The third looked to be over quickly with Youssef racing 5-0
ahead, but Bernat recovered well and you really saw how much he
wanted that game. But it was not to be: a couple great shots
from Ibrahim, one two errors from Bernat and at 10-9 Youssef
finished with his typical crosscourt nick - a fitting finish. It
concludes a great week of Squash, with the players showing their
appreciation of the professionalism and enthusiasm put on by the
Sportwerk crew, particularly Bart Wijnhoven, whom the Hamburg
Squash crowd owe a lot!
really means a lot to me, you know, the last two years have been
really tough for me so hopefully these are new beginnings and
it's the start of great things to come. It just means so much to
Two years I played against Bernat in another final and no, I
didn't lose, I actually won it! But it was a very different
match, it was a five-setter and I think we played a tie-breaker
in every game and it was 100 minutes, longest match outside of
my junior career!
"We were so fighting for it back then and I just didn't want to
repeat this, particularly because I was feeling the effects of
this week by now. You know, Bernat is a tough guy, really hard
mentally and gives you very little, no freebies, no free tins.
So yeah, today three tough games, but three is better than five!
This is my first $10k win and a real milestone. Funnily enough I
played the Italy Open last year against pretty much the same
guys, Patrick Rooney, Baptiste, Bernat, different order though.
"This week I came here with a gameplan and just focused on that,
taking it point by point, game by game, not getting ahead
myself. It worked out and I could not be happier!"
We had high expectations going into today and boy, were those
Bernat Jaume ESP 3-1 Edmon Lopez ESP
We saw a great match first between the two Spaniards: From the
start it was clear that Jaume was the one dictating play, but
Lopez is a player who might not play the outrageous winners, but
certainly a player who will give you few errors and you know you
will have to win the points.
Jaume made a few too many errors to begin with but cut down the
errors in the next games. It was intense stuff with little
between them but Jaume started cutting out Lopez' crosscourts
and was that bit tighter on the backhand. Lopez threw in a few
working boasts but let himself down with the odd unexpected
Game four was the best: Jaume was working hard and you had a
feeling he needed that fourth game to survive. Despite being two
points down for the most part of the game, he played the
deciding points excellently and pulled through after 76mins of
intense Squash. Great win for him.
"I knew before that of course you stay on court a long time
against Edmon. The first two games - how long, 40mins? I just
knew I have to keep fighting, keep suffering, but stay patient
at the same time. It was really tough but I am super happy to
win! Now I just hope the next two guys play a long match and the
winner is knows he had a tough match tomorrow at 6:30pm."
Youssef Ibrahim EGY 3-1 Jan van den Herrewegen BEL
Best match of the tournament so far and extremely fair. Van den
Herrewegen is such a friendly and fair player and Ibrahim repaid
the favour by putting on a show of great sportsmanship. Many of
us thought that Ibrahin might be favourite in the match but van
den Herrewegen showed his class and played calm, intelligent and
precise Squash and took the first game in a tie-break despite
being 7:10 down.
But Ibrahim, who is used to playing top 20 Egyptian players
pretty much every day, showed no signs of tiredness and showed
incredible retrievals coupled with outrageous shots. The Belgian
has some incredibly deft touches in the front court, but more
often than not Ibrahim picked up his drops with a lot of
It remained interesting but Ibrahim had an answer to everything.
In the fourth Ibrahim started going for the outrageous, and he
hit the best shot of the tournament: a Shabana-esque cross-court
drop from the back of the court straight into the nick. Van den
Herrewegen staged a mini-comeback from 6:10 down, but it wasn't
quite enough. The Belgian can be proud though: we have rarely
seen a more likeable player here, but he found his master in the
young Egyptian today.
"Jan is a really nice guy, I cant say it any other way, and a
great player on top. Really talented. In the end I am relieved
it didn't go to five because then you never know, but it was
also a bit of exhibition style Squash in the fourth which it
probably shouldn't be.
And yes, you mention Shabana: when I started at four years old I
saw Shabana and he has been my idol but also good friend ever
since. We talk a lot, I get advice, it's great for me. But yeah,
really happy to finish in four and looking forward to tomorrow!"
More great Squash on day three of the Sportwerk Open 2018.
Quarterfinals is my favourite day: you get a good number of
matches in four hours, but more manageable than the long first
Youssef Ibrahim EGY 3-0 Baptiste Masotti FRA
We started the day with what was probably the best match of the
day: young Youssef Ibrahim against Baptiste Masotti. Both had
impressed in earlier rounds and there was a feeling that whoever
would win this could be a real contender for the title. Youssef
was in control from the beginning and had no problem handling
the high pace by the French.
Masotti was putting in a few too many errors to rouble Ibrahim.
This seemed to continue in game two but Masotti cut out his
errors and Ibrahim got a bit riled up with the referee. He still
took the close tie-break 13:11, and saw the match out quickly in
the third. Incredible player, we know we have seen something
Youssef "Joe" Ibrahim: Have been working on the mental side of my game, that was
always my weakness in the past. Now I focus on each rally and
each point and it is working out and I am very proud of that.
I'll take things day by day and see what happens, but I am
confident in my game so lets see where that takes me. I am very
happy to be playing the tournament here, it is only my second
In Egypt we have the luxury of having a lot of legends around
who I can talk to and play with every day, it's great and a real
advantage. And yes, in Egypt my nickname is Joe, all Youssefs
are known as Joe, so if you hear "Yalla Joe!", that is someone
Bernat Jaume ESP 3-0 Brian Byrne IRL
Brian came off the back of two big comebacks but had little
chance in game one. In game two he played well and there were a
lot of hard entertaining rallies. Brian was desperately upset at
9:8 up when he struck Bernat with the racket. Expecting a
stroke, referee didn't see it and so it was 9:9 instead of 10:8
and Brian lost the game. At 6:10 down in the third he tried
staging a late comeback, but the tough Spaniard prevailed.
Bernat Jaume: Brian had good momentum coming into the match with two great
comeback wins, so I was happy to win 3:0. Now time to relax and
recuperate for the semis tomorrow!
Edmon Lopez ESP 3-1 Abhay Singh IND
Lopez looked in control and we expected a 3:0 win after a clear
second game. But things got heated in the third with plenty of
talking with the referees. Lopez let it get to him and Singh
pulled out some remarkable shots. IT was close in the end and
Lopez looked relieved to finish things up in four.
Lopez will face his countryman Bernat Jaume tomorrow. The two
have played plenty of times and I think we could be in for a
Jan van den Herrewegen BEL 3-0 Valentin Rapp GER
Really nice match to finish the day: two super-fair players
playing exciting Squash in a good spirit. Valentin tried as hard
as he could but Jan is such a smart and smooth player, he just
always plays the right ball at the right time and he has a super
backhand drive. Valentin did little wrong and just conceded that
Jan was too good on the day, but the young German can be proud
of his efforts this week.
Jan van den Herrewegen: Nice match, I normally smile on court, but only when I am
winning! No, in seriousness: I smile when I enjoy Squash, and I
enjoyed my Squash today. It was a good and fair match on a very
nice court. I am playing Youssef tomorrow and he has had good
results. I actually haven't seen him play yet but I'll get a
good night's sleep in and prepare well.
Valentin Rapp: After yesterday's tough match I went into this match feeling
good actually. But you know, then you have a few hard rallies
and then you do begin feeling it. I dont think I have much left
of the bumper on my racket, Jan played such a tight backhand
that I was just desperately trying to get the ball off the
side-wall. But that's what it's like when you play players of
that level. I have no complaints though, I tried my best and Jan
played very well. Now I am off to Madeira, wouldn't miss that
Round Two in Hamburg Christian Kissing & Dan Zilic report:
Brian Byrne (IRL) 3-2  Benjamin Aubert (FRA)
Tight match. Some difficult decisions for the referee in the
first few games. Brian kept his head together and seemed more
eager to win. After losing the first two games, he brought the
match home in five.
 Abhay Singh (IND) 3-1 Roee Avraham (ISR)
After his hard match yesterday, Roee fought hard in the first
two games, which both could have gone either way. After that,
Abhay solidly secured his spot in the quarters.
 Bernat Jaume (ESP) 3-0 Lewis Doughty (ENG)
Bernat showed why he is one of the top seeds; without ever
losing control over the match he closes out in three. Solid
Although the always happy brasilian had some wrist problems,
Baptiste was a little too good today. In this relatively short
encounter, Baptiste showed why he is one of the top contenders
in this tournament.
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0  Patrick Rooney (ENG)
This match was one of the highlights of the day. A lot of fans
were a bit disappointed to see these guys play each other in
such an early round. Still, the crowd was in for a treat.
Youssef was on fire. Patrick seemed not to be able to get his
top performance out. The young Egyptian didn’t hesitate for a
second and with high paced rallies and some great shots, he won
the match. Top seeds, be aware of this guy!
 Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-0 Joeri Hapers (BEL)
The score suggests otherwise; it wasn’t an easy match for top
seed Edmon. In the first game Edmon was in control but could
have gone either way. In the second, Joeri didn’t take any of a
lot of gameballs. Edmon took his first. After missing out on the
second game, the match seemed decided. Which, in the end, was
confirmed by 11-4 in the third.
Valentin Rapp (GER) 3-1  Jaymie Haycocks (ENG)
Biggest battle of the night as the duration suggests. Where
there were still some unforced errors in the first game, in the
rest of the match there were hardly any. A lot of long patienced
rallies. Jaymie fighting off several matchballs. In the end,
couldn’t contain Valentin, who was backed by a cheering
 Jan Van Den Herrewegen (BEL) 3-0 Roshan Bharos (NED)
Jan van den Herrewegen showed his superiority in the first two
games. Roshan kept pushing hard to even get a gameball in the
third. In the end, the belgian second seed kept his head calm
and won the match in a close third game.
Overall, an great day of squash. With the stands already filling
up, it promised to be a packed house in the latter stages of the
tournament. Some amazing quarter final lineups, which will make
every squash lover excited!
Round One in Hamburg Christian Kissing & Dan Zilic report:
We couldn't have asked for much more on the first day of the
Sportwerk Open 2018: plenty of local interest, good crowds, four
five setters. In that way the new 24 draw format on the PSA
seems to work!
Three matches stood out: Local lads Benthin and Auer so close to
a famous upset, particularly Felix (former German junior
champion) at 2:0 and 6:1 won't be happy. Brian Byrne provided a
lot of drama allowing Tess Jutte three match balls before
winning a tie-breaker in the fifth. We are really looking
forward to what day two holds in store!
Joeri Hapers (BEL) 3-1 Harry Falconer (ENG) 3-1
A great kick start between two fair players. It was close until
one all, but then the very mobile Hapers started using his
excellent drop shots from pretty much all over the court. That
allowed him to dominate the last two games, claiming a solid 3:1
Roee Avraham (ISR) 3-2 [WC] Julius Benthin (GER)
The first real highlight of the tournament! Julius Benthin
needed the first game to get settled and used to the high pace
game imposed by Avraham. But boy did he get used to it! He
really got things going going in the second but let the lead
slip midway and was 7:10 down, but fought back to win the game.
It was a forth and back in the tie-break that Avraham should
have taken but he made some silly mistakes at game ball up.
Benthin kept his composure in game three and took the 2:1 lead.
A big upset was on the cards, but Avraham re-composed himself
and Benthin started feeling the effects, allowing the young
Israeli to take the match 3:2.
Brian Byrne (IRL) 3-2 Tess Jutte (NED)
Another classic: Tess Jutte controlled the first two games
pretty comfortably, but Brian Byrne just never gives up. HE
started getting into the high-paced match, defended not on, not
two, but THREE match balls and ultimately took victory 12:10 in
the fifth for the first 2 games, Brian Byrne managed to find his
way into this high paced match, managing to overcome his
opponent after denying him 3 match balls in the fifth to take
victory 3:2, 12:10.
Byrne: "he played very well and got off to a great lead. In the
end, I managed to get through with my experience and because I
managed to tidy up my game."
Lewis Doughty (ENG) 3-1 Ben Coates (ENG)
This was hard and tough Squash with long rallies, with Lewis
Doughty in the end managing to push through by playing just that
bit more tighter and more composed Squash than his compatriot
Vini Rodrigues (BRA) 3-2 [L] Felix Auer (GER)
Christian's personal highlight: Felix Auer putting to display an
unbelievable mixture of soft hands, holds, flicks and great
athleticism. He took the first two games and was 6:1 up in the
third. But that's the moment Felix lost his head and Rodrigues
staged a comeback. Goes to show: sometimes a strong local can
keep up with the PSA boys, but the PSA guys have that much more
experience playing through tough spots. In the end the Brazilian
worked his way back into the match and into the second round.
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0 [WC] Nilo Vidal (ESP)
Nilo is a kind of local, the super-popular Spaniard plays for
Sportwerk's second team in the Bundesliga. He really tried hard
against the talented Youssef Ibrahim. While it's sad to see Nilo
out, we are happy to keep a bit of Egyptian talent in the
tournament. His match against Patrick Rooney will be one to
Nilo's comments: "I need to work on my will to win towards the
end of games. I played well and he was better today, I am not
unhappy with my performance in general, but I think I could have
taken a game of him today."
Valentin Rapp (GER) 3-1 David Haley (WAL)
Valentin Rapp was the only German to come through to round two,
and you could see he was up for it from the get go. He began the
match extremely determined and focused, taking the first two
games comfortably. In the third, Haley managed to straighten up
his game a little, ending up taking it 11:2. After the third
Valentin regained his focus, though with less focus and
determination than in the first two games. It was enough and he
took a close fourth 11:9. "Well played, Vale!" said one of the
many viewers watching our YouTube live stream from Stuttgart,
where Valentin is from.
Roshan Bharos (NED) 3-2 Robert Dadds (ENG)
We ended with another five setter with a known story: Robert
Dadds dominated the first two games with Bharos out of sorts. He
found his composure in game three and completely turned things
around, taking the match 11:9 in the fifth.
The Hamburg Squash scene is looking forward to Hamburg's
first PSA tournament in many many years.
There's an active Squash community in Hamburg and players and
spectators will pilger to Sportwerk, Hamburg's largest Squash
club with 14 Squash courts, a Courtwall four-wall
glass court and freshly installed, an Interactive Squash
Sportwerk has a successful Bundesliga team (runner-ups in 2017),
the German National Championships and plenty other tournaments
in Germany are held here, and new to the collection: our first
The $11k Sportwerk Open kicks off on Tuesday at 1pm and all
matches will be played on the glass court and streamed on
For locals: entry is free on Tuesday/Wednesday, 10€ for all
The draw looks interesting enough with two strong Spaniards -
Edmon Lopez and Bernat Jaume - dominating the top half.
Bernat played Nantes recently and lost in four tough games to
Zahed Salem (PSA 31). Edmon won the Sekisui Open earlier this
year (a $10k), demonstrating he can win tournaments of this
In the the bottom half Belgian Jan van den Herrewegen is
the favourite, particularly because he actually won the Valencia
Open last year, beating the two aforementioned Spaniards on the
way (Edmon 3:2 in the final).
However, fourth seed Baptiste Masotti arrives in Hamburg
after beating Olli Tuominen and Campbell Grayson (PSA 37) in
Nantes. And don't forget about Patrick Rooney, who
narrowly missed out on taking Wilstrop to five in Nantes. And
who knows what the 19 year-olds Abhay Singh and
Youssef Ibrahim (semi-finalists British Junior Open 2017)
can conjure up?
Valentin Rapp the highest ranked German player (runner-up
at this year's National Championships) and Julius Benthin &
Felix Auer as strong local Hamburg players, we hope to
prolong German interest for as long as possible.
Young Spaniard Nilo Vidal is another crowd favourite
after playing a good season for Sportwerk's second Bundesliga
All players have had plenty of opportunity to play on the glass
court, an advantage not to be underestimated.
It should be a great week of Squash, with the grand finale
taking place on Saturday, 6:30pm!