Round ONE(1)

ē 11th Qatar Classic Squash Championship  ē 14-21 Oct 2011 ē Doha ē  

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TODAY at the Qatar Classic 2011:
Sun 16th, Day Three                                        Fram & Steve in Doha

Main Draw, Top Half:

Nicolas Mueller
(Sui) bt [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
                11/6, 11/7, 11/4 (30m)
Tarek Momen (Egy) bt [Q] Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
                15/13, 11/8, 11/5 (47m)
[Q] Henrik Mustonen (Fin) bt Olli Tuominen (Fin)
                 4/0 rtd (2m)
[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [Q] Kamran Khan (Mas)
                 11/2, 11/2, 11/2 (20m)

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
                 11/9, 11/4, 11/4 (38m)
Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt Abdulla Al Tamimi (Qat)
                11/9, 11/4, 11/4 (24m)
[Q] Siddarth Suchde (Ind) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
               11/8, 11/6, 9/11, 11/1 (64m)
[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelgar (Egy)
               11/8, 11/3, 11/4 (30m)

Women's Qualifying Finals:

Emily Whitlock (Eng) bt Salma Hany (Egy)
         11/7, 7/11, 11/4, 11/5 (43m)                            plays Low
Farah Abdel Meguid (Egy) bt Siyoli Waters (Rsa)
        8/11, 11/5, 11/6, 11/2 (33m)                       plays Hawkes
Tania Bailey (Eng) bt Milou Van Der Heijden
        11/6, 11/3, 9/11, 11/8 (36m)                     plays El Weleily
Tenille Van Der Merwe (Rsa) bt Kylie Lindsay (Nzl)
        11/5, 11/5, 11/6 (24m)                                 plays Serme

Siti Munirah Juson (Mas) bt Olga Ertlova (Cze)
        12/10, 11/7, 11/6 (38m)                                 plays Perry
Sina Wall (Ger) bt Lauren Selby (Eng)
        10/12, 11/5, 11/4, 11/5 (37m)                      plays Duncalf
Yathreb Adel (Egy) bt Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)
         6/11, 11/7, 11/4, 11/5 (42m)                     plays Grinham
Merhan Amr Mahmoud (Egy) bt Orla Noom (Ned)
        11/8, 6/11, 11/7, 11/9 (41m)                      plays Massaro


EN Bref #1:
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Men's Roundup:
Mueller downs Shabana in Doha

The men's main draw kicked off with a huge upset as Nicolas Mueller sensationally beat fifth seed Amr Shabana - who won the US Open just a few days ago - in straight games.

The young Swiss played superbly well against an out of sorts Egyptian - who made the final in his last three appearances here - to reverse the result of their only previous meeting, ironically enough in the first round here last year.

"Today is probably the best match I played in my life, even if I realise that Shabana was not 100%," said Mueller.

Tarek Momen got the better of fellow-Egyptian Omar Abdel Aziz in three close games, qualifier Aziz getting frustrated with not being able to get a firm footing on the newly-resurfaced floor of the glass court.

"I think we really played well today, both of us," said Momen. "Iím happy with the way I played, even if I made a few too many errors."
 
The much-anticipated all-Finnish clash between Olli Tuominen and Henrik Mustonen fizzled out after just two minutes when Tuominen retired with a calf injury sustained earlier in the week proved too much for him to play with, allowing Mustonen a quick passage into round two.

Mustonen will meet a similarly fresh defending champion after Karim Darwish demolished Malaysian qualifier Kamran Khan 11/2, 11/2, 11/2 in 20 minutes.

The evening session started with two identical scorelines as top seed Nick Matthew and Malaysia's Azlan Iskandar both won tough first games before going on to record 11/9, 11/4, 11/4 victories.

Matthew found Pakistan's Aamir Atlas Khan a handful in the first game, with Askandar having the same problem with Qatari wildcard Abdulla Al Tamimi - two small, quick players - but both found the going easier thereafter.

Siddarth Suchde delivered a second upset of the day as the Indian qualifier put out Egypt's Ali Anwar Reda. After taking a two-game lead Suchde looked set for a straight games win, but although Reda fought back to take the third, Suchde was unstoppable in the fourth.

"Itís quite tough to come from the qualification, you have no easy matches nowadays," said a delighted Suchde, "and then, youíve got to adapt from the traditional court to the glass court. But the good thing is youíve got no pressure on you at all."

Suchde's next opponent will be France's sixth seed Gregory Gaultier, who was in no mood to allow another upset, dismissing young Egyptian qualifier Mohamed Abouelgar in just 30 minutes to conclude the day's play.

Tomorrow sees the conclusion of the men's first round, again all on the glass court, with the complete women's first round on the outside courts.

Women's Qualifying Finals:
Merhan seals Egyptian hat-trick
as Bailey marks welcome return ...

You won't be surprised to hear that Egypt collected three of the main draw spots on offer, but England grabbed two with players from opposite ends of the experience spectrum ...

Qualifying top seed Emily Whitlock became the first to qualify for the women's main draw with a solid enough 3/1 win over Egypt's Salma Hany.

"I was really nervous," admitted Whitlock, who qualifies for her second major event in a row after the Australian Open. "It took ages to get here and even though I had a bye I was feeling the pressure of being expected to qualify. I only felt really comfortable in the third game, but I'm just glad to qualify, and especially to get it out of the way early in the day instead of having to hang around waiting!"

Farah Abdel Meguid notched up the first Egyptian win of the day, recovering from a slow start - 7-0 down in the first game - to beat Siyoli Waters in four games.

"I was nervous at the start," admitted the tall Egyptian teenager, "I just had to try to cool it down as she's very fast." She did that very effectively, narrowly failing to pull back that first game deficit but taking the next three with increasing ease.

"I'm pleased to qualify for my second big tournament, after the worlds last year, I just hope I don't get to play another Egyptian," she added.
 
After virtually a full year out, England's Tania Bailey made a welcome return to WISPA action, beating young Dutchwoman Milou Van Der Heijden in four games.

"I wasn't exactly nervous but I didn't feel comfortable," admitted the former world number four after the match, "more just apprehensive about what would happen as I haven't played a tournament, and haven't played another woman for such a long time!

"It almost felt as if I was starting over again as an 18 year old, I'd forgotten about how to prepare, when I should eat, all the basic stuff like that.

"Milou played well, she hits the ball nicely and takes it in short like I'm not used to playing the men at home. In the middle of the match I wasn't feeling confident at all, I really thought I was going to lose. But then the experience seemed to kick in, I took a few points in a row in the fourth and I managed to pull through.

"It's good to be back - I said after my knee operation in February that if it allowed me to play one more match then that would do me. I've had that match so let's just see what happens, although having started I definitely want more. I still feel I can compete with any of the girls on the day, so let's see ..."

The afternoon session was rounded off with a comfortable enough win for South Africa's Tenille Van Der Merwe over Kiwi Kylie Lindsay. "That's a good start to the tournament for me," said Tenille, "now let's just see who I get next!"



The second session started with a win for Siti Munirah Jusoh which made it four Malaysians in the main draw, but Olga Ertlova made her work all the way, failing to capitalise on two game balls in the first and hold the score close until late in each of the next two games.

"I was a bit nervous and slow to get started," said the Malaysian, but I felt more comfortable as the match wore on and I'm really pleased to qualify for my first really big tournament, especially as it's my first time here."

Another who will be making her first appearance in a world series main draw is Germany's Sina Wall, who shrugged off losing the first game to Lauren Selby by taking an 8/0 lead in the second on the way to securing a 3/1 victory.

"I had to change my game after the first," said Wall, "I was playing too many crosscourts and she was able to put it away on the volley. I kept it straighter for the next three games and was able to control the play more.

"I'm delighted to make the main draw, it should be good for my ranking too!"

Egyptian teenager Yathreb Adel, who has been making waves in WISPA events in the US of late, enjoyed a similar win as she came from a game down to beat Japan's Misaki Kobayashi in four.

"I was playing the wrong way in the first," admitted Adel. "She was hitting it so hard, I had to try to slow it down and play more lengths. Then I was able to find my own and became more confident.

Possibly the toughest match, and definitely the happiest winner, was saved until last. After winning a nailbiting five-setter yesterday, Merhan Amr Mahmoud turned in a determined performance in beating qualifying second seed Orla Noom in four games. She nearly let a good lead slip in the fourth game, but finally got the win at the end of some long tough rallies, and how delighted she - and the Egyptian squad which had been occupying the front two rows behind court 3 all day - were:

"I'm so happy, I finally achieved something I can tell my children about! I played here last year and in the worlds in Sharm, but I did nothing, but now after two hard matches I finally made it to the main draw.

"I want to thank my Dad, I wish he could be here!"

Men's Round One Reports

Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
                11/6, 11/7, 11/4 (30m)

NICKI AT THE TOPÖ

Swiss Nicolas Mueller played the match of his life today against a Prince of Egypt struggling in my view with motivation. You know, when youíve won everything, and just had a superb comeback in your previous tournament, and you are past 30, I guess sometimes you probably think, oh well, not sure I want to go through the pain todayÖ.

Against the Prince, a ďnothing to loseĒ, hungry 22 years old, ranked 30 in the world, whose Shabanaís scalp would do nice on the belt of.

Nicki played the perfect game today. He took Shabs to the throat from the word go, was patient, made the rallies last enough to make the Egyptianís legs feel heavy, then attacked, putting a lot of weight in the ball, retrieved beautifully, and found some great lobs that really pushed Shabs way in the back.

Shabana didnít give up, he tried, pushed, picked up, tried to vary the angles and pace, but Nicki was onto nearly every shot, reading his opponent attacks quite well (maybe a few wrong tactical choices?). Errors started to creep in Shabanaís game, giving more and more confidence to the Swiss that eventually takes the win of his life in 30m.

It has to be noted that there was not more than 4 decisions in the whole matchÖ Fair players? I would say soÖ

"Do you remember what you told me last year when I lost against Shabana here? You said, you lost because you played like a girl! And you were right! So I worked on hitting the ball harder, on my fitness too, and did a lot of strength training.

"I was not happy with the way I played recently, but today is probably the best match I played in my life, even if I realise that Shabana was not 100%, probably a bit tired from his US Open where he played superbly.

Very happy, very happy indeed.

Tarek Momen (Egy) bt [Q] Omar Abdel Aziz (Egy)
                15/13, 11/8, 11/5 (47m)

SLOW START, NICE FINISH FOR TAREK

The first game was a bit Tin and Misshit for both players, took them a while to get used to the glass court, and itís Omar that lead 5/1, only to be caught out 6/6 by his sparring partner. From then on, not more than 1 point between the players, game balls for both, but itís Tarek, only just, 15/13, in 23 minutes.

In the second, itís the opposite, itís now Tarek that leads 5/1 and Omar that catches up, 6/6. But on a bit of a slippery court, the stunning drop shots and volley deception for Tarek are just too hard to pick up for Omar, who gets a bit frustrated with the court.

In the 3rd, the writing is on the wall, and even if Tarek makes too many errors, Omar is mentally tired by then, and just cannot come back.

Still, a good match in the end, between two gentlemen, no arguments, good fast pace, lots of pickups, retrieving attacks, and not too many up and down the wallsÖ.!

Itís never easy to play a good friend, we train a lot together Omar and I, and we are really good mates, so it adds tension to the match.

I had a slow start, I didnít get to practice on the court this morning, I miss my slot, so it was the first time I was getting on the court, and at the beginning, I couldnít see the ball that well. But Iím happy I got back into it, because this first game was actually crucial.

I think we really played well today, both of us, Iím happy with the way I played, even if I made a few too many errors, itís always like that in my first match. But Iím happy I didnít get frustrated with myself for making those errors.



Against a good friend, you canít get the anger, you cannot get aggressiveÖ And he is so fast, one of the fastest there is that Iíve ever seen! And on a court like that, a bit slippery, goodbye my friend.

I was really into this match, I was well prepared, and I couldnít wait for the ref to start the match! But I needed that first gameÖ Still, Iím happy with my month on the PSA. Iím not that farÖ.

[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [Q] Kamran Khan (Mas)
                 11/2, 11/2, 11/2 (20m)

OUTPLAYED

Oh boy. I donít think that Kamran has spent much time on a glass court, where letís face it, Karim has lived for years now!!!

We had on court today an ďíOld ProĒ, that was as comfortable as can be on there, relaxed, accurate, and a young man, who didnít have the technical weapons today. No length, couldnít see the ball that well, didnít have the right shot selection, but all credit to Karim who was controlling T, pace, angles, and with a perfect length.

Kamran didnít enjoy the lesson, and Iím pretty sure this is the last time he will get such a beating on there. I have the feeling his pride will drive him to perform much much better next timeÖ
  

[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Aamir Atlas Khan (Pak)
                 11/9, 11/4, 11/4

AAMIR FOUGHT BUTÖ.

It was nice to see the Pakistani back in his ďSpeedy GonzalesĒ mode, putting the World Number 1 under a lot of pressure during the first game. Nick was playing very well, volleying, past pace, but that Little Devil was running like a rabbit, picking up winning shots, and finding some great volleying too!

But to achieve that, Aamir had to run an awful lot, and used his batteries in that opening game. I feel that, had he won that, the match could have had a different tone to it. Still, Aamir tried his best in the last two, pushing as hard as he could, only to lose against a Nick Matthew completely in control in the endÖ

"You could see that I didnít feel that comfortable against Aamir, he is a bit of greased lightning, he is so fast! Mind you, itís a good preparation for tomorrowís match, as Iím playing another very fast player, Tarek Momen!

Iím enjoying my number one status, but itís all about finding the nice balance between enjoying it and still stay competitive. If I can achieve that, hopefully I can get a few more titlesÖ

We are really lucky, us English players, as we have a great team at home and here as well, some new faces, keeps us on our toes, Chris Robertson, Jade our physio. Their help is invaluableÖ

A little thanks to Hisham and Debbie too, who have welcomed me this week, and made me feel completely at homeÖ

Azlan Iskandar (Mas) bt Abdulla Al Tamimi (Qat)
               11/9, 11/4, 11/4 (24m)

NOT BAD, ABDULLAH, NOT BADÖ

That little boy Ė he is still a junior Ė has got potential. Of course, he still play far too short, and physically, couldnít play too many hard rallies, which is perfectly normal at his age. But we could see the potential, and when he was patient, putting weight in the ball, finding a good length, he was able to surprise Azlan at the front!

A nice entertaining match for the crowd, and for me too!

He played well in the first game and took me by surprise, so I had to play better in the second! Iíve seen him and his brother grow up over the years, and I can say that Geoff Hunt has been doing a great job with the boys. And itís really nice to see a nation like Qatar emerging in the squash world.

We all turn up every year, Qatar tournament is one of the best in the world, the Qatar Federation makes its best to make our lives as easy as possible, transportation, lovely hotel. And that why we PSA players turn up each and every yearÖ.



I didnít do too bad, and tonight, Iíve learned that I need to be more patient on the court!

[Q] Siddarth Suchde (Ind) bt Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
               11/8, 11/6, 9/11, 11/1 (64m)

SURPRISE, ITíS SID!!!

When I looked at the draw, no offense, I thought that we were going for a hard fought 3/0 for Mohamed Ali, as Siddarthe had worked extremely hard to get to the main draw, having beaten Leo Au and Matthew Karwalski in the qualifiers in the process.

But for somebody who hardly played on the glass court, the Indian was, I promise you, from the first hit at home on there. His length was perfect, width too, he was volleying for India, was accurate, fast, retrieved well, and counterattacked like an Egyptian!

Mohamed Ali was a shadow of himself, to the point I thought at times that maybe had a niggling injury of some kind that was bothering him. But the boy at the end confirmed that no, it was just in the head that he was not at his best. Just an off day.

And yet, the Egyptian tried, he slowed down the pace rather well in the 3rd, and that paid off, as Sid is more comfortable Iím told when the pace is very high. But very quickly in the 4th, the Indian was in the lead again, forcing the error out of Mohamed Ali again and again, very very VERY comfortably, to win 11/1Ö.

I didnít find it difficult to adapt to the glass court, itís very similar to playing in England, courtís dead, no heating, just the sound that is different. No, I had more trouble adapting to the traditional courts actually, because the ball was flying around, very similar conditions than India!

In the third, when you are the finishing line in view, you start thinking, and change your gameÖ

So in the 4th, I went back to what I did in the 1st and 2nd, taking one point at a time, taking each point as it came, without thinking of that finishing lineÖ.



Not sure what happened today, Iím fine physically, but I just couldn't see the ball, mentally, I was not thereÖ

[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [Q] Mohamed Abouelgar (Egy)
               11/8, 11/3, 11/4 (30m)

In the first game, my length was really good, and my shots were way at the back. But after that, it was bouncing in the T line, and he is so good, he puts away everything.

I was struggling a bit with the court, I was not seeing the ball that well.

It was great to play in such a tournament, and especially against Greg, Iíve been watching up to him since Iím 10. Itís a superb experience for me.

I wish I could have been more patient, and a bit more positive with my game. When you play against a top player for the first time, you try to play the best you can, not to be ridiculous really!!!! But itís all good, part of the learning process, and even if I could have done better, I really enjoyed it.



Iím in great shape, here we trained with Thierry, good sensations with the racquet, Iím hitting well. Only thing, we didnít have the chance to train much on the court, but thatís for everybody the same.

Itís a very cold court, so itís great if you are moving well, but your length has got to be really perfect, so itís good I played on it today, then again a bit of training tomorrow, and it will be fine.

Physically, I feel sharp, I worked hard, and Iím playing rather well. Only problem is that I keep getting Ramy in my draws, and he is the man in formÖ

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Round ONE(1)

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