• 9th Qatar Classic Squash Championship  • 17-23 Nov 2009 • Doha •  





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TODAY in Doha ... daily reports              Framboise & Steve in Doha

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Wed 18th, Day Two,
Qualifying Complete
Qualifying finals at the Khalifa Tennis & Squash Complex saw some dramatic matches and some upset results, as ever.

Lucie Fialova, Alana Miller and Dipika Pallikal upset the women's applecart, and while Omar Abdel Aziz caused the only men's upset of the day, mention must go to Eric Galvez's dramatic win over Karim Abdel Gawad.  Read on ...

Women's Qualifying Finals:     updated draws

Joelle King
(Nzl)  bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy)
           13/11, 13/11, 11/5 (40m)                plays Perry
Joey Chan (Hkg) bt Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy)
            11/9, 11/3, 11/7 (23m)                  plays Waters
Alana Miller (Can) bt Joshna Chinappa (Ind)
            5/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/9 (33m)          plays Bailey
Emma Beddoes (Eng) bt Christina Mak (Hkg)
            11/8, 11/4, 11/2 (24m)                plays Grinham
Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt Olga Ertlova (Cze)
             11/4, 11/9, 11/9 (32m)                plays David
Annelize Naudé (Ned) bt Heba El Torky (Egy)
             7/11, 11/8, 11/7, 12/10 (46m)      plays Duncalf
Lucie Fialova (Cze) bt Orla Noom (Ned)
             11/9, 7/11, 10/12, 12/10, 11/4 (57m) plays Au
Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Sharon Wee (Mas)
             11/5, 9/11, 11/1, 11/2 (27m)      plays Massaro

Men's Qualifying Finals:     updated draws

Tarek Momen
(Egy) bt Yasir Butt (Pak)
             11/9, 11/7, 11/8 (32m)              plays Walker
Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
              11/7, 11/8, 3/11, 11/3 (41m)     plays Lincou
Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Mansoor Zaman (Pak)
              11/4, 11/6, 11/6 (68m)             plays Willstrop
Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
               15/13, 11/8, 12/10 (68m)        plays Pilley
Eric Galvez (Mex) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
               11/4, 6/11, 11/6, 11/13, 15/13 (97m) v Palmer
Mark Krajcsak (Hun) bt Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
                11/2, 11/7, 11/5 (41m)          plays Anjema
Renan Lavigne (Fra) bt Martin Knight (Nzl)
                11/7, 11/1, 11/5 (50m)          plays Boswell
Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt Tom Richards (Eng)
                11/9, 11/7, 11/6 (42m)        plays Barker

Women's Qualifying Finals   ...                                       Steve reports

Joelle King (Nzl)  bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy)
           13/11, 13/11, 11/5 (33m)

Nour makes it tough for Joelle

Joelle King became the first player to emerge from the qualifying competition, but the Kiwi certainly didn't have it all her own way against Nour El Tayeb, who was as determined as ever and can probably count herself unlucky not to at least take a game.

The young Egyptian led the first 5-3, then fought back from 10-8 down to force extra points, but Joelle held her nerve, taking the game on a stroke.

Nour led the second too, 5-1, but Joelle levelled at 5-all and it was even all the way to 9-all. Nour got to ten first this time, but again Joelle held firm, and at 12-11 Nour made one of her spectacular dive recoveries, got back up and continued the rally only to hit the ball back to herself for another game-losing stroke.

Joelle hit her stride early in the third to establish a winning lead, and despite some more dives Nour couldn't close the gap. And yes, the third game finished on a stroke too ...

"At least I had a good hit before the main draw, there's no doubt about that! There's so many of these young Egyptians, and they're all so fit, fast and talented, you can never relax.

"I wasn't feeling too comfortable to start with, it was hard to get into my rhythm, so I had to concentrate on keeping it to the back and letting my fitness pull me through. My game started to come together towards the end.

"I'd put lots of work in recently, and I'm a lot fitter and stronger than I've ever been, I'm confident I can last long matches with anyone. I'm really looking forward to the main draw, whoever I get, I've got nothing to lose ..."

Joey Chan (Hkg) bt Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy)
            11/9, 11/3, 11/7 (23m)

Joey's experience tells ...

She's only 21, but Joey Chan has a lot more experience than Kanzy El Dafrawy, and even though the Hong Kong girl hasn't got superior physical power to call on, her squash brain pulled her through this match to the main draw.

Placing the ball more precisely, and putting away loose shots with delicate drops, Joey's smoother style paid dividends as Kanzy struggled to impose her game.

Only in the first did the Egyptian truly challenge, leading 3-1 and 5-3, but once Joey had pulled level at 7-all and then moved quickly to 10-7 she never looked back.

"I lost in the qualifying first round here last year, and I played Kanzy in Egypt and beat her 3/1, so with this win I can feel that I'm improving.

"She's very skilful, and fast, I watched her play yesterday and realised she could be a bit tired today. I was playing straighter than I normally do, trying not to allow her to volley, especially on my backhand side because her forehand is just so strong.

"I'm happy to win 3/0, I feel good physically and mentally, and I hope I don't get one of the top four in the main draw!"


Alana Miller (Can) bt Joshna Chinappa (Ind)
            5/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/9 (33m)

Alana's progresses to plan

Joshna Chinappa can be a tricky opponent to play, on top form she can put the ball away from anywhere, and getting into a rhythm is very tough to do. And that's how she started against Alana Miller, mixing it up and putting anything loose away, stopping the Canadian from settling.

But Alana had a plan, persisted with it, and slowly but surely it started paying dividends. If she could keep it at the back, keep the rallies going long enough, the odds would turn in her favour, and so they did.

It was never easy, there was always an Indian winner lurking just around the corner, but a few errors too, and Alana kept to her plan, and managed to get the better of the next three games.

"You can't afford any loose balls at the front, that's for sure, they were gone.

"I had a plan, but my execution of it wasn't successful in the first. I knew I needed to keep it straight and tight, going short only when I could. I knew that if my short shots weren't ultra-tight they'd be slammed down my throat or there would be a little trickle boast I wouldn't see.

"I'm really pumped to make the main draw again - I did last year, but the match finished very last and I was first on, so with an earlier match this time I'll be better prepared. I don't mind who I play, although it would be nice to play the world number one ..."

Alana Miller 

Emma Beddoes (Eng) bt Christina Mak (Hkg)
            11/8, 11/4, 11/2 (24m)

Emma eases through

After yesterday's struggle to shake off the younger El Torky, Emma Beddoes faced a different challenge today as Christina Mak brought her mature game to court.

The Englishwoman was more in her comfort zone today, established early control and never looked like relinquishing it as she won through with increasing authority.

"She's a different type of player, yesterday it was all slam bam, as fast as you can, but today Christina's more of a lob and drop player, so it needed very different tactics.

"It takes a lot of concentration to play against that type of game, so it's hard mentally more than physically, but overall it's easier as I'm the one making the pace whereas yesterday we were both making it.

"I'm happy to get through in three so I'm as fresh as possible for tomorrow. It will be difficult whoever I play, but I've had a few games against people in the top 16 recently and I'm playing well so you never know ..."

Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt Olga Ertlova (Cze)
             11/4, 11/9, 11/9 (32m)

Olga pushes Wee Wern

To be fair, I only caught the last two games of this match, and both were very competitive, evenly-matches affairs. Low Wee Wern will be grateful to have taken the first comfortably, because she was certainly made to work for it in the next two.

Olga Ertlova had chances in them both, leading 8-5 in the second before Wee Wern took five points in a row, and it was level pegging all the way through the third, but it was the Malaysian who got the better of a series of long rallies at the death.

"That was a tight match, even though it was 3/0.

"She didn't quite get into it in the first, but I played her before and won in four, so I knew she was very fast and had good deceptive shots, I knew she'd come back into it.

"She caught me out a few times with her deceptions, I missed a few of those flicks, but overall I played ok and managed to win the important points at the end.

"In the last big draw in Hong Kong I played Jenny, my first match against a top ten player, so it would be good to get some more of that experience ..."

Annelize Naudé (Ned) bt
Heba El Torky (Egy)
             7/11, 11/8, 11/7, 12/10 (46m)

"Well, that's not the easiest match I've ever played ...

"People told me what it's like to play her, and she's a good enough player, it doesn't have to get physical like that.

"I just had to get back to basics, play the ball tight and keep her away from me.

"I've got to the second round main draw pretty much every time here, and normally have some good matches, so we'll see what happens tomorrow ..."

Lucie Fialova (Cze) bt Orla Noom (Ned)
             11/9, 7/11, 10/12, 12/10, 11/4 (57m)

Lucie not to be denied

This was easily the toughest match of the women's draw so far, with two players who could see a prized place in the main draw in their grasp, and neither were about to let it pass without a fight.

It was tough going from the off, but after the first two games were shared the intensity went up a notch. Orla Noom nearly let the third slip from a 10-7 lead, but reasserted to go 2/1 up. Lucie Fialova has been known to buckle under such circumstances, but not this time.

The Czech number one came out even more determined for the fourth, and with both players cracking the ball ferociously, running for everything, you felt that something had to give, but there was no sign of where that crack was coming from.

From 7-all in the fourth the rallies became even tougher - it really had to be a good shot to win one of these. Orla earned herself two match-balls at 10-8, but Lucie hung on for dear life, and deservedly levelled.

It was the Dutchwoman who took a better start in the decider, 4-0, but it was Lucie who finished the stronger, powering back to 9-4 before Orla took time out to cover up a graze on her knee, then taking the final two points for a really, really, hard-fought for win.

"I've been training really hard for the past few months in Egypt, but I haven't been getting any good results, I was very disappointed about the last tournament in Soho Square.

"I wanted to do well here and thought the draw was good for me, so I really wanted to try my hardest.

"When I was 4-0 down in the fifth I though about when I played Orla in the final of the Prague Open - she won the fifth easily there, and I was determined not to let that happen again.

"I was a bit luck at times today, but I'm very, very pleased to be in the main draw ..."

Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt Sharon Wee (Mas)
             11/5, 9/11, 11/1, 11/2 (27m)

"When I saw the draw I thought I had a good chance of qualifying, but I knew how dangerous a player she is too.

"I started well, but in the second she went for too many shots and they all went in, I had to just play my basic game and make her run a bit more. She cuts the ball so well so I knew I had to keep it deep and away from her at the front.

"I'm fully settled in England now, I don't have anything to worry about other than the squash, and it's really starting to pay off.

"I've never played Laura before, but she's top ten so I'm just going to go on and do my best ..."

Men's Qualifying Finals   ...                                       Framboise reports

Tarek Momen (Egy) bt Yasir Butt (Pak)
             11/9, 11/7, 11/8 (32m)


It was one of those days for Yasir. He just didn’t show up at the requested time this morning. Simple explanation, he never heard the alarm clock. Tarek, showing great sportsmanship, accepted to play the match although it was his utmost right to refuse and take it.

Of course, Yasir rushed here, never got a chance to get any warm up, and had to be grateful to his opponent to allow him to play. Hardly the best conditions mentally to win a match… And of course, he didn’t.

All credit to Tarek for being a “good guy”, and for him to play his game, staying focused throughout the match - although I’m told he actually turned up on time but having forgotten his shoes! He deserves his place in the main draw.

"He played so well today, he was impressive, I couldn’t find a length, but it’s all credit to him, he never let me play my game.

"Maybe I wanted to win too badly, I never really relaxed. And he can sometimes lose his head – which he sort of did in the third – but today, he didn’t… He was just too good."

Simon Rosner (Ger) bt Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
              11/7, 11/8, 3/11, 11/3 (41m)


The top German was really sharp today, playing an opponent he plays for years now, and he dominates every time. He was relaxed, the mind was at rest, well, nearly all the time, apart from the 3rd, where he just lost his length and the plot completely bless him, playing a mixture of junior squash and focus out of the window…

Apart from that little hiccup, honestly, it was a Rosner’s festival today. He had a good length, excellent width, and he volleyed particularly well today. Then again, I’m not sure that Nicolas went in there with the right frame of mind…

The Swiss never beat Simon, and probably feels deep down he probably cannot, and every time he loses a point, his body language seems to say “oh well, of course, I’m not going to win, he’s too good, can’t do anything…”

I can only quote once again Ross Norman, who took so many beating from Jahangir, and who went on court every time telling himself “I may not win today, but I’m going to make his life as difficult as possible, and I’m not going to give him anything, he’ll have to take it from me”. And it did eventually work…

"I guess I played so well in the first two games, my shots were going in nicely, I guess I just went on with the same attitude, but as I made four unforced errors in a row, and sort of let that one go. I was lucky to be able to refocused in the 4th, sometimes, you can actually lose concentration for two games or worse, but thankfully, I was able to get back in the rhythm.

"Nicolas is definitely one of the upcoming young players, and it feels good to beat him, and it also feels amazing to get to a platinum event, I think it’s only the second in my career…

"I’m so grateful to my coach, Wael El Batram, who told me about 18months ago when I started working with him that by the end of 2009, I would be top 40. I never really trusted I could make it. I’m so glad I now see the product of the work put in…"

Saurav Ghosal (Ind) bt Mansoor Zaman (Pak)
              11/4, 11/6, 11/6 (

"Mansoor ran a lot today, he tried very hard for the whole match, and never gave up. He is such a shot maker, he is unbelievable! I’m so glad I was able to stand the pressure, and still do my own stuff…

"My own stuff, well, I mean finding a good balance between getting it to the back, drop shots, volley drop shots at the front, to make sure you are moving him around. Sometimes, I can play too much at the front, but today, I was able to play just right.

"I’m so happy to beat Mansoor today 3/0, he was really at his best…"

"Saurav played so well today, he’s been based in England now for a while, he is playing with the top boys, and it shows. He has improved a lot, and he was impressive today, I can see how confident he now is.

"I need more fitness, more speed and strength. This was my last tournament, I’m now going back to Pakistan for two months, and I’m going to work very hard to come back in the top 20 next year…"

"I was not physically at my best today, but I thought I was mentally strong.

"He attacked very well in the first, I was only defending, but I got better in the second, that’s the way I would like to play all the time… But he played well, he was stepping up the court pretty well, and defending well as well.

"I think he’s improved a lot in the past 6 months. I played him at the end of the season, just before summer, and I had two comfortable wins. He’s been always strong, but he’s improved his court craft…"

"When I was up at the end of games, I just rushed things, thought about finding the nick, instead of thinking clearly about the next shot.

"I realise I’m improving, at every tournament, but still, the result is not there, I’ve got to keep on training. But Chris played very well, good luck to him…"

Chris Ryder (Eng) bt Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas)
               15/13, 11/8, 12/10 (68m)


All credit to Chris really today, he kept his head steady and weathered a pretty heavy storm of lovely attacks from Wan, in particular in the first 30mn game, where the Malaysian had four game balls…

Chris didn’t seem at his best in the first, just hung in there really, and I would say experience paid off. Wan had mentally trouble to come back in the second, not to mention a drop of energy, but still manage to hold point to point with his opponent, 3/3, then 5/5. Chris found some lovely attacks and counter attacks of his own, finding his rhythm and game at last, to take the second, to set a comfortable 2/0 lead.

A lot of players would have packed up, both mentally and physically, but Wan didn’t. 3/3. 4/4. 5/5. 6/6. Chris gets away, 9/7. Wan fights back 9/9. Sets himself up a 5th game ball of the match. Surely this time. Four lets later, he tins it. 10/10. Dishearted, the Malaysian loses the next two points quickly, going for too much.

Yes, that’s what was the problem today really, going for too much, rushing the end of the games when he had a chance to close it up, and also, a bit of lack of precision at the front – he lost an average of three points per game as the ball came straight back to him.

Wan, like I said, is improving. The door hasn’t opened yet, he still has got to use this body more I feel, but keep knocking, Wan, you are very close…

Eric Galvez (Mex) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
               11/4, 6/11, 11/6, 11/13, 15/13 (97m)


By the end of the match, the whole of the players present at the venue were all watching Eric and Karim as they battled away. The sentence the refs never pronounced was “a bit more effort please gentlemen”. My they fought, they run, they chased, they hit, hard and low, they retrieved, they counterattacked…

They also went into each other's way rather a lot, and the game was a bit stop and start at times, but they were both so keen to play the ball early, so fast on the ball, and so hungry for victory…

When Eric took the third to lead 2/1, he looked the winner, Karim was a bit imprecise, and started to make too many unforced errors. But the fourth was terribly disputed, the Egyptian leading 10/8 game ball to see Eric come back at 10/10, got another one at 11/10, but finally closed it at 13/11, with a few no lets given to both players…

And I thought the match was intense enough.. That was nothing compared to what came later, each game getting longer and longer (7m, 10m, 14, 19, and 26)!

An excellent start for the 19 year old, 4/1. Eric catching up 4/4. 6/6. 7/7. 8/8. Eric gets two match balls at 10/8, but Karim, never playing like a junior in this match, showing great maturity and poise, wish he could stop playing the ref though – found two stunning backhand drop shots to come back to 10/10.

Karim’s turn to get a match ball now, saved after an incredible rally. Another match ball for the Mexican, 12/11. Another backhand drop shot nick. 12/12.

Karim gets his second match ball at 13/12, but a stunning crosscourt kill that dies in the corner forces him to plunge. Blood injury at the knee, a good 10m stop. Back on court at 13/13. Another throwing on the floor, another blood injury, at the elbow this time.

14/13, 4th match ball for Eric. By then, he is flying, and Karim, mentally gone with the stop/start of injury breaks. A short rally, a bad unforced error. The Mexican goes virtually wild with happiness.

What a match. What a suspense. I love qualifiers…

Mark Krajcsak (Hun) bt Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
                11/2, 11/7, 11/5 (41m)

"I surprised myself how well I played there - sometimes it's just your day!

"I'm not usually a shotmaker but today I went for a few [especially at the end of the third, where one audacious overhead volley flick brought gasps of admiration], went for them at the right time I thought, and they all seemed to go in.

"I started really well, but he was probably a bit stiff from his match yesterday, after that it was much tougher.

"I'm happy and delighted to qualify, it's good it wasn't too long so I can have a good rest for tomorrow.

"It's a new tournament tomorrow, it's going to be much tougher, but when you think I was match ball down yesterday and ended up qualifying, I've got to be happy ..."

Renan Lavigne (Fra) bt Martin Knight (Nzl)
                11/7, 11/1, 11/5 (50m)


If the first game was very long, very up and down the wall, with neither of them taking risks, with Renan dominating but only just 11/7, the pace picked up from the second onwards.

Advised by Isabelle Stoehr, Renan got much more control of the rallies by pinning his opponent straight at the back, and keeping him so far back he had too far to travel to get to Renan’s lovely volley drop shots. Therefore, the NZ was only retrieving most of the time, and although he made very few unforced errors, he was not able to get the Frenchman out of his comfort zone.

The second was pretty harsh, 11/2, and the third could have been as sharp, as Renan got his first match ball at 10/2. As is often the case in those circumstances, having nothing to lose, Martin found some exquisite winners, at last would I add, going for it, and that worked, until a mishit gave the match to the Frenchman 11/5…

Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy) bt
Tom Richards (Eng)
                11/9, 11/7, 11/6 (42m)


He seemed to be in zone, the Egyptian today, and from what I saw, Tom couldn’t really settle or play his natural game. Frustration mounted as the points accumulated, and the win of a close first game 11/9 probably became crucial in Tom’s head…

A decisive long and impressive rally at 9/6 in the second got Tom on the back foot, tin, and even if the Englishman placed a lovely backhand drop shot to come back to 7/10, another tin gave the game to Omar, 11/6.

In the third, good lead from Omar to 6/2, but Tom, never letting go, virtually clawed back to 6/6. But carried by the whole of the Egyptian crowd of players in his corner, Oman just was in a zone. He found shot after shot, ran and defended every inch of his court, and got a deserved victory, 11/6.

"I think I was ready for his kind of play today, I knew he was going to play a lot on the backhand, his deep volley particularly. I handled it pretty well, and I opened up the court just at the right time.

"To be honest, I’m been inspired by the way Tarek Momen plays, the way he plays from the back of the court, and in the third, I played several shots like that, he really inspired me today!!!

"I’m so happy and grateful to my fitness coach – that I share with Ramy – thanks to him, I’ve changed my whole fitness regime, and I feel much more comfortable now with my movement, it’s much more fluid. And you know, you can push physically when you are playing well, but if you are playing bad shots, even a kid can beat you!

"What I did best today? Concentrate."

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