Sportwerk 2018

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Sportwerk Open 2018
11-15 Sep, Hamburg, Germany, $11k

It's Ibrahim in three in Hamburg
Dan Zilic reports:         Photos by Henning Angerer

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 right!

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!

"This 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 me!

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!"

 

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Sportwerk Open 2018
11-15 Sep, Hamburg, Germany, $11k
Round One
11 Sep  
Round Two
12 Sep
Quarters
13 Sep
Semis
14 Sep
Final
15 Sep
Joeri Hapers (Bel) *
11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 (52m)

Harry Falconer (Eng)
[1] Edmon Lopez (Esp)
11-9, 13-11, 11-4 (37m)
Joeri Hapers
[1] Edmon Lopez

11-8, 11-2, 11-13, 11-9 (57m)

[6] Abhay Singh
[1] Edmon Lopez

10-12, 12-10, 11-5, 14-12 (76m)

[3] Bernat Jaume

 

[3] Bernat Jaume

 

11-9, 11-9, 11-9 (46m)

 

Youssef Ibrahim

3rd PSA title for Youssef

Roe Avraham (Isr) *
11-4, 14-16, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6 (69m)

[wc] Julius Benthin (Ger)
[6] Abhay Singh (Ind)
11-13, 12-10, 11-8, 11-7 (46m)
 
Roe Avraham
Brian Byrne (Irl) *
4-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4, 12-10 (70m)

Tess Jutte (Ned)
[8] Benjamin Aubert (Fra)
 9-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 (61m)
 
Brian Byrne
  Brian Byrne

11-5, 11-9, 12-10 (42m)

[3] Bernat Jaume
Ben Coates (Eng) *
11-9, 6-11, 11-8, 11-6 (45m)

Lewis Doughty (Eng)
[3] Bernat Jaume (Esp)
 11-5, 11-6, 11-5 (35m)
  Lewis Doughty
Felix Auer (Ger)
8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-4 (45m)

Vini Rodrigues (Bra) *
  Vini Rodrigues
11-2, 11-6, 11-7 (25m)
[4] Baptiste Masotti (Fra)
[4] Baptiste Masotti

11-6, 13-11, 11-3 (34m)

Youssef Ibrahim
Youssef Ibrahim

10-12, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 (56m)

[2] Jan Van Den Herrewegen

[wc] Nilo Vidal (Esp)
 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (26m)

Youssef Ibrahim (Egy) *
Youssef Ibrahim
11-6, 11-7, 11-5 (37m
[5] Patrick Rooney (Eng)
David Haley (Wal)
11-3, 11-5, 2-11, 11-9 (47m)

Valentin Rapp (Ger) *
Valentin Rapp
11-4, 5-11, 16-14, 13-11 (75m)
[7] Jaymie Haycocks (Eng)
Valentin Rapp

11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (36m)

[2] Jan Van Den Herrewegen
Robert Dadds (Eng)
9-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9 (64m)

Roshan Bharos (Ned) *
Roshan Bharos
11-4, 11-6, 14-12 (44m)
[2] Jan Van Den Herrewegen (Bel)
* = 9/16 seed
Top seeds beaten in Hamburg semis

Dan Zilic reports:         Photos by Henning Angerer


We had high expectations going into today and boy, were those expectations fulfilled.

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 errors.

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.

Bernat Jaume:
"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 interest.

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.

Youssef Ibrahim:
"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!"
--
 

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Quarters in Hamburg
Dan Zilic reports:                                   Photos by Henning Angerer

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 rounds.

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 special here

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 this year.

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 supporting me.


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 fiery semi-final!

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 tournament!
 

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Round Two in Hamburg
Christian Kissing & Dan Zilic report:

MATCH POINTS

Brian Byrne (IRL) 3-2 [8] 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.



[6] 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.



[3] 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 performance.

[4] Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-0 Vini Rodrigues (BRA)

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 [5] 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!

[1] 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 [7] 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 homecrowd.

[2] 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!
 

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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 win.



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 Ben Coates

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 watch today.

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.
 

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Top Squash returns to Hamburg
Dan Zilic reports

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 court.

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 PSA tournament!

The $11k Sportwerk Open kicks off on Tuesday at 1pm and all matches will be played on the glass court and streamed on YouTube >>>>>

For locals: entry is free on Tuesday/Wednesday, 10€ for all other days.

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 size.

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?

With 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 team.

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!
 

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