TODAY at the Qatar Classic -
Daily updates from Doha
04-Nov, Day SEVEN, Quarter-Finals
Sherbini and Cuskelly take out third seeds in Doha
more rest days as the final sixteen players reach the final
stretch towards claiming the Qatar Classic titles.
Today it was quarter-finals with two mixed sessions at the
Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex, where two more
major seeds - and almost a third - were beaten.
women's matches started with Omneya Abdel Kawy winning a
five game tussle with unseeded Joshna Chinappa, while fourth
seed Laura Massaro beat world junior champion Nouran
Gohar in four games to reach the semis for the first time.
the bottom half of the draw defending champion Nicol David
had little trouble getting past Hong Kong's Annie Au, and
the second seed will play her eighth Qatar semi-final against
young Egyptian Nour El Sherbini, who delightedly
overturned recent results to beat Camille Serme, the third seed,
in four close games.
top two seeds in the men's draw progressed in contrasting style
- world #1 Mohamed Elshorbagy got revenge for his China
defeat by Max Lee in straight games, but had to work for it,
while second seeded Frenchman Gregory Gaultier had to
come from two games down against Karim Abdel Gawad to prevent al
opponent will be Australian Ryan Cuskelly, whose great
run of form continued as he came from two games down to beat
third seeded Colombian Miguel Rodriguez, becoming the first male
qualifier to reach a World Series semi-final for 15 years.
Gaultier will face an unseeded opponent in Mazen Hesham,
who beat fellow young Egyptian Ali Farag in straight games, also
making his World Series semifinal debut.
14th Qatar Classic - Women's Quarter-Finals
 Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 3-2 Joshana Chinappa (Ind)
11/8, 9/11, 7/11, 12/10, 11/6 (50m)
 Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-1  Nouran Gohar (Egy)
11/8, 11/8, 8/11, 11/6 (43m)
 Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-1  Camille Serme (Fra)
13/11, 11/8, 8/11, 11/8 (52m)
 Nicol David 3-0  Annie Au (Hkg)
11/7, 11/4, 11/3 (23m)
14th Qatar Classic - Men's
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Max Lee (Hkg)
14/12, 11/7, 11/7 (36m)
[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 3-2  Miguel Rodriguez (Col)
9/11, 7/11, 11/5, 11/5, 11/2 (88m)
Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Ali Farag (Egy)
11/8, 12/10, 11/8 (42m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-2 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
7/11, 6/11, 11/4, 11/7, 11/6 (63m)
Abdel Kawy (Egy) 3-2 Joshana Chinappa (Ind)
7/11, 12/10, 11/6 (50m)
UP AND DOWNÖ
was one of those matches, typical of a cold court and a match
between two attackers! As in, very short rallies (first game was
5m), a lot of decisions, and a lot of changes of momentum.
First game, 9/5 to Omneya, a few nervous tins from both, the
Egyptian takes it 11/7. Second is more balanced at the start, a
few strokes for Joshna, but itís the same score, 9/5, this time
for Joshna, 10/7 game ball. Onny, dangerous as ever, comes back
very strong, but just a bit short, 11/9 in 8m.
third is close up to 7/7, but Joshna seems more hungry and up
for it, a few fist pumps, she takes the following 4 points,
11/7, same time, 8m. The fourth will be the longest/most
disputed one, and the weirdest one!
Onny is up 6/2, 7/3, and having an nice time out there,
controlling the front beautifully. Again that famous 9/5 and
game ball 10/5. Thatís when Joshna decides to play the best
squash on the match, scoring 5 points in a row! But at 10/10,
she gets the ball out of court. This time, Omneya takes the
game, finally, 12/10, longest game of the match, 10m.
credit from Joshna, the Indian Lady still believes she can do
it, and she is fighting hard, taking a great start, 3/1, 4/2,
only to see Omneya coming back to 4/4, and overtaking her. A few
tired errors will finally creep in the Fiesty Indian, whoíll bow
to her Egyptian opponent, 11/6 in the 5th, to the great sadness
of her vocal supporting crowd, but to the huge pleasure of the
Joshna is such a dangerous player, she played so well today. And
on that court, itís who ever attacks well that wins. To be
honest, I was very uncomfortable for the whole match, I never
relaxed. That court feels cold, but in fact, you think the ball
is going to die, but it does, you can still keep it going!
Iím still enjoying the Tour, Iím the oldest now! The pressure is
on me, Iím supposed to have the most experience, but in fact, if
I lose, playing really well, thatís okÖ
This year has been good and bad, for squash, good. It was very
tough to come back in the match, Iím not sure how I did it to be
honest! But I had to do it, because otherwise, we, as in the
Egyptians, would have been in trouble!
Of course, the fact she beat Raneem was on my mind all the time,
she has been playing very well since Weymuller, beating Raneem
here was a great achievement, so she has a lot of confidence at
the moment. But I was a bit lucky I think as I just beat her in
the US Open, 3/0, it made it a bit easier in my head. If I
hadnít had that result recently, the result might have been
Massaro (Eng) 3-1  Nouran Gohar (Egy)
11/8, 11/8, 8/11, 11/6 (43m)
Massaro shuts the door on Gohar
second match of the day saw the former senior world champion
take on the reigning world junior champion, and it was
experience tat prevailed in a tough four games.
Massaro started strongly, opening up a 6-1 advantage in the
first game, and although Gohar narrowed the gap to 4-7, Massaro
pulled away again to 10-5, taking the lead 11-8.
Gohar led in the early stages of the second but Massaro soon
overhauled that lead and stayed ahead to double her advantage
with the same score.
A good start to the fourth and an 8-2 gave Gohar fresh impetus,
and although Massaro got back to 8-6, the Egyptian closed out
the game 11-8, giving a delighted little skip as the video ref
confirmed the 'no let' on the final point.
the outset of the fourth though Massaro was back in charge,
Gohar unable to get the momentum back and even Massaro's own
fistpumps and "C'mon"s - much in evidence in the previous games
- were muted.
On match ball Gohar put in a short boast, Massaro was backing up
behind her and offered her hand before the stroke decision came.
Massaro reaches the semis for the first time in ten Qatar
Classic visits, having lost out in the quarters in 08, 09 and
a bit disappointed with how I played in that third game - I
think I came off my tactical plan a little bit and allowed her
to play the way she wants and everyone can see hoe lethal she is
when you let her to that so Iím very happy to get off in four
games in the end.
ďI feel good physically which is a really big thing for me. If
Iím moving well and feeling god physically then Iím half way
there with my game and I feel like thatís happening at the
ďObviously playing two big majors in a row is hard so I;m really
happy that Iíve made it to the semis and back up a really good
week in Philadelphia here in Doha but Iím not done yet. Iím
going to try and go one more round if I can.
is a very different player to Nouran. She plays with softer
hands, attacks a lot to the front and isnít quite as powerful as
Nouran so itís a completely different game considering theyíre
Weíve come through the juniors together so weíve played each
other enough and it will just be a case of who plays the best on
 Nour El
Sherbini (Egy) 3-1  Camille Serme (Fra)
13/11, 11/8, 8/11, 11/8 (52m)
UP FOR IT NOURÖ
This was a superb performance from the just turned 20 Nour
today, a very confident and mature match from the Miracle Girl
as her family nicknamed her.
two played 8 times on the PSA/WISPA/WSA tour, but the most
significant were the past two matches, with Camille wining in
May 2015 in the British Open quarters, 11/9 in the 5th, and more
sharply in the US Open two weeks ago, same stage of the
competition, 3/0 in less than 40m.
So Cam was favourite today, but I feel that maybe her match
against Amanda took a lot out of her, not only physically, but
also mentally. Not having her coach or anybody in her corner
here was maybe a factor that played in her disfavour. But what
do I know.
the other corner, Miss Nour El Sherbini. Slimmer, looking more
mature and professional Ė no more stuffing herself with bags of
sweets during the evening Ė Nour looks the business.
With the support of Atef her dad, she really imposed herself
today on court, finding most of her points at the back on a very
cold court, proving that she is not playing a junior squash
anymore, but trusts herself enough to let her opponent guess
where the ball is goingÖ.
game couldnít have been any closer really, 2/2, 4/4, 6/6, 7/7,
9/9, game ball Nour, Cam saves that by a nice taxi Ė or Uber as
the social network seem to call it nowadays Ė but canít
transform her own, to finally lose it 13/11 in 14m of a very
nice and pleasant game to watch indeed!
The second will be dominated by Camille, 7/4, 8/6, 9/7, and itís
11/8 for Cam in 9m. But thatís the only game sheíll take,
despite a great start in the 3rd, 4/1, sheíll get caught up 5/5,
8/5 Nour, Cam claws back 8/8, but at the end of three great
rallies, Nour get a great advantage, 11/8. The game was again
2/1, Nour is now full blast confident, but Camille is
experienced, and wonít let go. Game is truly close, the four
corners are visited, both retrieving and attacking, lovely
angles and depth. 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. A gigantic rally,
that probably took a lot out of the French lady, 8/6, 9/7, and a
superb backhand drop shot to close out the match for Nour, 11/8
Lovely match, truly enjoyed that oneÖ
Camille beat me the last two times, so maybe this was my turn, I
just didnít want to lose this timeÖ
Iím really happy Iím through, itís been a long time since I
reached the semis of a major tournament! It was tough until the
end but I was trying to be focused and positive until the last
point. Iím so glad I am back playing like before.
Iím not putting pressure on myself, Iím just trying to relax and
enjoy playing and get back to how I used to play. I have lost
weight, I have worked hard on my fitness regime with my fitness
coach, and now my training is at the moment more orientated
towards fitness than squash.
The fact I feel good physically gives me confidence on the
court, I donít have to finish the point early, and when you feel
good physically, you enjoy your game much better! I am playing a
much more positive squash now, instead of going negative like I
was going a few months ago.
Iím nothing without the support of my family, my dad that came
here with me from Cairo, my brother and my mum watching me on
TV, my friends, Omneya, all these people Iím so grateful too,
and also the Egyptian crowd, they just want us Egyptians to win,
they donít really care about whatís happening on court, they
just support us unconditionallyÖ
 Nicol David
3-0  Annie Au (Hkg)
11/7, 11/4, 11/3 (23m)
David eases into semis
the quickest match of the day, defending champion Nicol David
eased into her eighth Qatar Classic semi-final with a clinical
straight-game win over Asian rival Annie Au.
The Hong Kong player has all the attributes to be a nightmare to
play on a cool glass court, and sure enough she was able to put
in some winning drops and boasts that not even Nicol could get
But for the most part the Malaysian was well on top, dictating
the pace and putting the ball where Annie least wanted it, as as
After losing the first two points of the match David settled,
and from 5-6 down took the opening game 11-7 in nine minutes. A
7-0 start in the second was consolidated 11-4, and there was no
stopping the tournament favourite in the third
is so dangerous, she is a lefty, you never know where her shots
are going, she is so hard to read, and she can put something
together nicely, especially on that cold glass court.
I was very aware of what she can do especially on the forehand I
had to make sure I would close the court, I couldnít afford to
give away anything. I had to work very hard and Iím happy with
my game today.
Delighted to win in three.
If you perform well, the results will come and the ranking will
go up. You just have to put in the work, and I know what I have
got to do.
I have a dream team, itís so hard to explain how crucial it is
for a squash player to have a great support. itís so nice to
have Ronald back with me back in action, and Liz [Irving, coach
to Nicol forever] , what can I say, sheís been amazing, sheís
seen me through bad times, through my ups and downs, sheís been
a true mentor, and I wouldnít be here without her.
Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Max Lee (Hkg)
14/12, 11/7, 11/7 (36m)
Having lost to Max Lee in the first round of the China Open a
few weeks ago, top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy will have been keen
to put that right in today's rematch.
Less stressed then he was in his previous match against Abou, it
all looked to be going well for the world #1 as he led 8/2, 9/3
in the first. But Max seems to be able to make Mohamed lose a
bit of focus it seems.
Like in Shanghai, Max didnít to let him
get off that easily, and a run of points brought him back to
8/9. Mohamedís camp Ė as in his mum Ė was getting nervous when
Max saved two game balls before finally losing the game 14/12 to
the Egyptian's obvious relief!
Mohamed led 7/2 in the second, Max fought back to 5-9, Shorbagy
taking the game 11/7, and in the third Max held his own, even
led 6/5 and 7-6, but again Shorbagy finished the game the
stronger, taking five points in a row to move into the last
before Shanghai, I remember telling my brother, Ďam I really
going to take a plane to go to another tournament, am I really
going to start another season?í I hadnít recovered from the last
It was a very hard season for me there, I had won 4 events, but
had my peak too early, then lost in the Worlds, and I had to
defend my WR1 for the first time in my life. A lot was happening
at the same time, and when I got to that Shanghai event, I just
wasnít mentally or physically ready, and Max was the better
player on that day, he played better than me, and fully deserves
Half an hour after that loss, I called Jonah [Barrington] and
told him ďI deserve to lose, this is the best thing that could
happen to me, now Iím ready for the new season.Ē
I had only a few days, 4 or 5 before the Grand Prix in England,
I didnít do anything different training wise, but mentally, I
was now ready for the battle.
Today, I still lost a bit of focus when I was up in the 1st,
9/3, and then again in the 3rd, but Iím glad I didnít give him a
game point in the first, they are very hard to get back. In that
third, he took a much better start, but in the end, I think I
played just a bit better for sure.
Itís all about not losing confidence. You know, nobody can win
all the tournaments, sometimes, you have to accept that somebody
is better than you, and say too goodÖ. This year, Greg has
started the season better than any of us, as for me, Iím raising
my game after each match, after each event.
Itís sad that the ďold generationĒ is not around anymore, I feel
that Iím the only one left with Greg that has played with them,
the Darwish, Shabana, Palmer, with Nick and Ramy injured on this
event as well.
And yet, itís funny to hear the people talking
about the ďnew generationĒ coming up, they are only 2 years
younger than I am, itís going to be like between Nick and James
I guess. Letís see what that new generation will get out of
I feel this is my time, one day, it will somebody elseís time,
and Iím aware of that.
Cuskelly (Aus) 3-2  Miguel Rodriguez (Col)
9/11, 7/11, 11/5, 11/5, 11/2 (88m)
Ryan Enters History ...
What a day for the 28 years old Australian, who not only got to
the quarters of a WS for the first time ever, and now is in the
semis! Last man that did that was Chris Walker, in 2001. Well,
Delia Arnold did it last year at the British, but as a male
player, it had been a little while!
I know for a fact he feels terrible about what happened at 9/8
in the 1st game, when he hit a backhand drive that clipped the
ďarcade sourcilliŤreĒ Ė no idea how you say that in English, and
Cubs doesnít know either Ė the bone just above the eye Ė and
touched Miguelís eye. The game was interrupted for 14m while
Miguel was getting treatment.
The Colombian, quickly attended by a doctor, was told he could
resume play , only kept on putting ice on the eye between the
games. Which he did.
We came back in game at 10/8 game ball for Miguel who then took
the first game 11/9 in 15m of actual play.
An excellent start for the Australian in the 2nd, 3/0, 4/1, only
to see Miguel getting right back into it, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7,
finding some lovely length, taking the 2nd in 16 minutes 11/7 to
Miguel was moving so well on there today, so fast, that it
looked like Ryan couldnít find an answer. But answer and
solutions, he found. He take the 3rd, quickly in 9m, 11/5, and
the 4th, same score, same length, but with a turning point at
6/4 in that 4th, where Miguel becomes negative and only returns
for the first time the match.
We still have some lovely intense rallies, but Ryan is not in
control in the 5th, completely, a few uncharacteristic errors
from the Colombian, maybe the incident with the eye has got
something to do with it, who cannot stop the incessant attacking from
the Australianís racquet, in still 11 minutes of hard workÖ
The big Colombian Support contingency was truly disappointed to
see their champion lose and even booed the Australian at the end
of the 4thÖ. But the 5 Australians in the seats were pretty
course Iím delighted, canít believe Iím in the semis of my first
WS final, but there was that unfortunate incident in the first
game, where I hit him with my racquet above the eye, it was an
unfortunate incident, I truly felt bad about it. Itís not the
way you want to start a match.
His length was so good at the start of the match, I just
couldnít anything, I couldnít get into it and was a bit flat and
I was struggling to cope with his speed. He was that little bit
quicker and I was missing my timing just a little.
I couldnít hit the corners, he is so fast and
using his speed to play some weird little shots. I tried to hold
on in there, and then, managed to get a bit more aggressive, and
stick to the game plan.
I didnít want to lose, so I tried and take that third, managed
to get better length, tried and not do anything stupid, and then
took a good lead in the 4th and 5th.
I started hitting
some winners and I think in those last three games I played
pretty flawless and like I did in the last few rounds. But I canít believe I came
back from 2/0 against him, he is one of the fittest player on
the tour so Iím over the moon with that result.
Martin has done everything for me, since he started coaching me
9 years ago, heís been a good friend and a second father to me.
And I was telling him at the start of the tournament that I was
just trying to scrap through qualifying, I just won in Halifax,
the travelling, didnít play that well in the qualifications,
slept better, a bit of a rest, then been playing the best squash
of my life this week! UnbelievableÖ
These opportunities donít come often. You never know - Iíve got
nothing to lose so Iíll be pushing again tomorrow.
When I looked at the draw I thought, if I play well, I can do
well in this tournament, so no pressure on me, just do the job Ö
Tomorrow, world number 1, I canít waitÖ
(Egy) 3-0 [Q] Ali Farag (Egy)
11/8, 12/10, 11/8 (42m)
Itís never easy to play your mate. But for us, it was a great
pleasure to watch. Two great players, fair, honest, fighting
hard, but fair and clean. Those two didnít need refs tonight.
They saluted each otherís great shots. They called their balls
up or not up. They played a fluid match. Loved every second of
it. Well, except the end, where one of them had to lose.
Mazen was all evening with a armband to rest his right shoulder,
whose been troubling him all week, while I thought Ali was a bit
flat tonight. He tried and shout himself into the match, but he
was not as sharp I felt as he was previously. Maybe a bit of
tiredness? Maybe just a bit of pressure falling on his shoulders?
Tonight, he tactically was not at sharp as he can be, and in
particular, his backhand drive was inexistent until the very
last shots of the last game. Maybe something he needs to check
on as when he used it, he managed to put Mazen under pressureÖ
But Iím a bit picky, you know that by nowÖ
First game, good start for Ali, 3/0, only to see Mazen taking
the next 4, then 6/6, 7/7, 8/8. Mazen suddenly accelerate, and
gets Fairest Farag out of his comfort zone, 11/8. The physio
comes and check Mazenís shoulder at the end of the opener, but
everything seems to be fine.
Second game, again, excellent start for Ali, 3/0, again a string
on point from Mazen, but this time, itís not 4, but 7! Mind you,
just after that, Ali takes 4. Mazen ahead again, 9/7, Ali,
shouting to himself gets back to 9/9. It will take a few amazing
rallies, and two game balls for Amazing Mazen 12/10 to lead 2/0
in 30m of playÖ
This third around, itís Mazen that takes a good start, 3/0, 6/3,
and will keep the lead until the end, against 11/8 on the second
I know, Iím a crybaby like Amanda Sobhy, but I had tears in my
eyes as those two finished in each otherís armsÖ Sue me.
known Ali since we were something like 8 years old, he is really
a good character on and off the court. I feel that his family is
like my family, and the same for mine, itís been very hard to
play him at that stage of the competition, I was as excited as
usual, but I couldnít show it as much today against such a close
friend on mine.
I really love the way I play at the moment, Iíve been coming to
Qatar about 3, 4, I stopped counting 5, 6 years? I never won a
match, and suddenly this year, first round I beat Wan that I
never beat before, and then Mosaad and today, Ali.
So, Iím blessed, Iím so lucky, Iím feeling awesome, overwhelmed I cannot find words to describe
what I feel, but whatever you think of, I am! I really want to
thank my coach in Cairo Omar Abdel Aziz and Karim
My parents of course, also Joey Barrington, who is doing great
things for me, but the man you never hear about, and that has
been supporting me on this tournament, always texting me with nice
tips, and mental support, Jonathan Kemp! That guy is amazing, he
has been helping me a lot and I really want to thank him. And
thanks to you Fram, and SquashTV!!!
I hope that Iíll have a great match tomorrow, maybe with Greg,
maybe with my room mate KarimÖ
This week in Qatar
has been so good, today, not so good. He was going for shots,
killing everything, he deserves to win definitely.
There is still an Egyptian in the semi, and hopefully, it will
be an all-Egyptian final.
Gaultier (Fra) 3-2 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
7/11, 6/11, 11/4, 11/7, 11/6 (63m)
Greg went on court today, with
very little sleep, and it showed. A bit sluggish, not even
getting excited when he was playing badly, he was going through
the motions. Karim on the other hand had nothing to lose, and
just played superb fearless accurate squash, sprinkled with a
little "parfum" of Egyptian Squash. In other words, lethal.
And he took the first two games with very little resistance from
the Frenchman, in 20m, Greg was 2/0 down. And that's when
Camille came into play, using the right words. One of them was
"Orgueil". "Pride". And Greg just went ziiiiiiing!
Went back on court, looking very pale, taking the third in 8m,
against a Karim that looked a bit out of source, making 6
unforced errors whereas he'd been pretty error-free up to then,
The fourth is more disputed, with Karim complaining more and
more about Greg movement, while getting several no lets that led
him to get more and more frustrated as the game went along. A
longer game, 11m, but once again Greg takes it, looking actually
less tired at the end of the 4th, 11/7, than he did in the 3rd.
A big effort from Karim to come back in the game, but again, a
few no lets whereas Karim is trying to explain that he feels he
cannot go to the ball.
At 7/3 Greg to serve, the central ref
warns the Frenchman "Mr Gaultier, please provide better access
to your opponent, no matter the quality of your shot might
"Tis a bit late now', states Karim...
The Egyptian will stick to the score and comes back to 6/8, but
a tin and two strokes give the match to Greg. That was a come
back and a half... must be something in the Qatari Water...
Karim really surprised me, I was a bit flat to begin with, I
didnít expect to go 2/0 down against him, I had always had 3/0
wins against him, I managed to control him rather well, apart
from the first time we played, I think it was 3/1 [it was
actually in the 2010 Qatar Classic]. Today, he really played out
of his skin, I just couldnít read his game at all, and he was
taking the ball very early.
At 2/0, Camille came and spoke to me with the right words, she
told me ďPrideĒ. And something just clicked in my head. It sort
of woke me up and I pushed myself, started to be patient again,
and worked, and worked and worked, to tire him and force him to
keep in the rallies. Of course, it was burning inside, but I
thought, if itís burning for me, itís burning for him too! So I
just had to stay strong and patient.
Once I took the 3rd, I was more confident, I started to take the
lead and forced him to pick up one more shotÖ
Iím playing another Egyptian, Iíll have to be alert from the
word go. What I need is a good night sleep, I just couldnít
sleep at all last night, I was the last one on court, so by the
time to go back to the hotel, you eat too fast, and you pass
I took some Melatonine to sleep, normally itís fine, if you
manage to sleep. But if you donít, it makes you very flat. And
thatís what happened to me. But tomorrow, a good night sleep,
and Iíll be perfectly fineÖ
There are days like this, youíve got to deal with it, and Iím
happy with the fighting spirit I found in myself today.