Qatar PSA World Squash Championship  • 13-21 Nov 2014 •  Doha  •



  in Doha: Daily Reports from the World Champs
                                                                                                                                Fram reports, Steve clicks away
Mon 17th, Day FIVE:

Round two continued with the bottom half of the draw, eight more matches on the glass court to determine the last sixteen.

WE started with an upset, but thereafter all the seeds - including defending champion Nick Matthew and world number one Mohamed Elshorbagy - all booked their places in round three.

Round Two, bottom half:

Max Lee (Hkg)  3-2 [15] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
              13/11, 3/11, 11/7, 6/11, 11/8 (76m)

[10] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-1 Tom Richards (Eng) 
            9/11, 11/6, 11/6, 11/7 (53m)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) 3-1 Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
             11/7, 20/18, 8/11, 11/4 (62m)
Stephen Coppinger (Rsa) 3-0 Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
             11/5, 11/6, 11/6 (43m)

[14] Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 3-1 Nasir Iqbal (Pak)
              11/7, 5/11, 11/9, 11/4 (51m)
[3] Nick  Matthew (Eng) 3-0 Gregoire Marche (Fra)
              11/6, 11/3, 11/4 (40m)
[2] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind)
              11/6, 11/4, 11/1 (29m)
[11] Simon Rösner (Ger) 3-1 [Q] Lucas Serme (Fra)
               6/11, 11/6, 11/6, 11/9 (64m)

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Day Five Roundup

Just as yesterday, the play started with a five-game upset as Max Lee got the better of 15th seed Karim Abdel Gawad in a 78-minute match.

Tarek Momen provided Egypt's first winner of the day as he came from a game down to beat Tom Richards, followed by four-time champion Amr Shabana, who powered through at the end of a hugely entertaining match with Nicolas Mueller.

The afternoon session ended with another unseeded player going through as South Africa's Steve Coppinger kept a tight grip on his match against Ong Beng Hee to beat the Malaysian - playing in his 14th World Champs - in straight games.

Saurav Ghosal was given a good test by young Pakistani Nasir Iqbal, but the Indian weathered the storm and took the fourth game comfortably to progress.

Gregoire March and Mahesh Mangaonkar found their opponents too strong on the day - Marche getting more and more frustrated with himself as he lost to Nick Matthew, Mangaonkar coming up against a too hot to handle Mohamed Elshorbagy.

Matthew is, unusually, the only Englishman left in the draw, whereas Egypt will be represented in six of the eight round three matches tomorrow!

Round two concluded as Simon Rosner came from a game down to beat qualifier Lucas Serme.

Today's Photo Gallery

Max Lee (Hkg)  3-2 [15] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
              13/11, 3/11, 11/7, 6/11, 11/8 (78m)


If you had told me that this opening match between two attackers that keep hitting the front corners every 2 seconds would take more than75m, I would have smile discreetly and thought you didn’t know much about squash….

I was right.. for about 5m, when after that time, Karim was up7/5. The little I knew that the game would go on and on, 18m, and would see Max get the game on his 4th game ball, 13/11….

The second, a trimmed and moving extremely well Karim took in no time, 8m, 11/3, forcing a few errors from Max.

But the Hong Kong player collected the dividends of the first game and its hard work in the 3rd, as Karim hit the wall, and offered him 7 points on a silver tray. Blesssss. The old Karim, the one that was not fit enough and just tried to finish the point too soon was back in Qatar Town…

Fourth, ah, a bit of rest in the 3rd, and zoooom, Karim is the boss again. More assertive, stepping up the court, finding good length/volley drop shots, he was up 10/3 up before Max started to show he was still around and well, 11/6.

The 5th was a mad intense game, both attacking with all what they had, long mad fast rallies, attacking those poor front corners that didn’t do anything wrong but still got punished again and again. Not more than a point between them up to 8/8. And it’s Max that creates the gap after a multitude of amazing rallies/shots/pace, 10/8. One match ball sufficed….

Stunning stuff to open the day. I think this is going to be a loooooong day…

Today, the most important element was the Mental side. I think that taking the first game – I was so lucky there – helped me in the 5th believing that I could take it. It was a real mental boost.

I was trying to get my length, but there was so much switch on, switch off today!

In the 2nd and 4th, he played so well, he score some many points with those crosscourt winners. But somehow, at the end of the 4th, I managed to get my length back, and it helped me in the 5th.

I had a lot of practice recently, I had 7 tournaments in a row. Majors. And that helps me. Because I can observe the top players. I can see the way they work, the way they play, the way they prepare. And even when I don’t play against them, I learn a lot. So the more I do those tournaments, the more I learn. It’s like mental practice.

The last game was my best game. But I feel really lucky. Just lucky. Because now I find myself in the last 16…

I was a bit nervous today. Sometimes, I’m so relaxed that I get a slow start. But this time round, it’s quite the opposite, I was very nervous, and at 9/9, he gets a nice nick, and the next point, I play an awfully bad boast….

You know, when you are nervous, it seems that your game plan just goes out of the window. Today, I was trying to move him around as much as possible, and expose his movement. I think that what made the difference today was that I covered the court a little bit better.

I’m glad I managed to win the next three, just sticking to the game plan, and managing to get a few loose/unforced errors out of him.

Today, Tom made it very hard for me, he didn’t give me any cheap point, he made sure that ever point counted. To sum it up, it was a good win for me.

I have had a fair chance of practicing here because I arrived early, and today gave me even more time to adapt to the court. So I hope I’ll play better tomorrow.

[10] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-1 Tom Richards (Eng) 
            9/11, 11/6, 11/6, 11/7 (53m)

Tarek Dominates, Tom just a bit short….

Tarek is rarely off the blocks like a shot kind of player. It takes him time to adapt to the conditions, on the court and elsewhere, and today was no exception.

But Tom was right hot from the start, and was hungry as you would be if you had been kept away from major events for months on end.

Tom was up 9/7, Tarek sneaked in at 9/9 but couldn’t stopped the English to rightly take a game he dominate all along.

If Tom didn’t have much chances to get into the 2nd game, 9/3 11/6 in 9m, he was neck to neck with Tarek for the next two up to the middle of each game.

But every time, at 5/5 in the 3rd, and 7/7 in the 4th, it’s Tarek that gets that little acceleration in the racquet, inject that much more pace, and Tom that is just that much too far away from the ball.

Maybe Tom misses that match fitness at that level of pace at the moment.

No doubt he’ll catch up soon, and as long as his body stays in one piece (literally, as he tore his hamstring in two bits!), he’ll be somebody to be counted with.

[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) 3-1 Nicolas Mueller (Sui)
             11/7, 20/18, 8/11, 11/4 (62m)

Nici up for it, Legend Shabana keeping it under control, only just!

We were spoiled honestly today. If sometimes on this tournament, the matches haven’t been classics – but it’s early days – today, we had already two crackers, and the day is only young! First, Max v Karim AG was stunning of fireworks in the front corners.

But this one, between Legend Shabana and Chocolate Provider Nici was a fireworks in the FOUR corners. What a match. What a match what a pleasure of a match.

You have to remember that Nici beat Shabana here, in Qatar 2011, in the first round, in 3 games. So I guess Shabs must have been verrrrrry weary about him here. Not to mention that the Swiss plays at a constant 201m/h, and early during the day, not what the Legend would particularly enjoy….

First game, slow start from the Egyptians, down 2/5 but catching up 5/5. 7/7. Little push from the Prince of Cairo, 11/7 in 12m.

The second will stay one of the best tie-break I saw in my looooong life. Shabs up 8/4, we think it’s all over. But our Nici is fit as it comes, patient, and mentally much stronger than he used to. And he dugs in, forcing a few tins from Shabs, to come back to 8/9. Game ball to Shabana, 10/8.

Cut a verrrrry long story short, Nici got two game balls, but it took 9 for the Prince to finally clinch it, in 23m, 20/18 (like James/Mohamed in HK a two years ago). What a tie-break. Two of the fairest players around, amazing squash, amazing attacks, amazing saves, counterdrops, counterattacks, perfect lengths, winners that aren’t anymore.. Only three words: Get The Replay!!!!

So there we were, 41m of play, and the old Nici would have probably folded it and go to the showers. But the new one, well, just kept Duracelling on us. Kept running, and attacking and running, and attacking. Shabana never let go, he didn’t want to go in a 4th AT ALL! But Nici had the last word, and took that 3rd in 11 m, 11/8.

Didn’t look good for Shabs. And I truly thought we could be heading for an upset here. But that’s what differenciate players from Champions
. In 8m, the Egyptian veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered). 11/4.

What a man. What a match. What a sport. Hail to you too, boys. You really made my day, my week. You are a credit to our sport, and you set the mark for others. Mabrook, Well done, Superbe…

I was not trying to throw myself on the ball like I did several time, but there is maybe something not right with that floor, it doesn’t grip, and I ended up in a split a few times…

The second game was that type of game, short shots, attacks, that kind of every shot intense, and that type of game suited him more than he suited me. He is amazing at that, and in the third, I don’t think I did much wrong, he was just on a roll, and when it’s like that, there is very little one can do.

So in the 4th, I just decided to finish the point before he did! To be honest, we were both a bit “spent” in that game…

That type of match is good, it’s setting the pace up for you, and it’s good for you if it doesn’t kill you!!! It will be now easier for me to play the other players, because he played at such a pace….

“I managed to keep quite a good control of proceedings on there today.

"I was trying to keep things simple, rather than the fast and furious approach that I sometimes get drawn into, and it was working so I just tried to keep it going as long as I could.

“He threatened to come back into it a few times, but then too often made errors that released the pressure for me.

“It feels pretty good to be in the last sixteen for the first time - it’s not over yet!”

[Steve is the first South African to reach the last 16 since 1985]

Stephen Coppinger (Rsa) 3-0 Ong Beng Hee (Mas)
                11/5, 11/6, 11/6 (43m)

Coppinger keeps a lid on Bengy

Coming after his great result against Daryl Selby, there was a danger that Steve Coppinger would be a little flat as he took on the experienced Ong Beng Hee - competing in his 14th World Champs - for a place in the last sixteen.

Not a bit of it - the South African looked cool, calm and composed from the start, and kept the match, and his opponent, under tight control from start to end.

After a patient opening,, Coppinger managed to edge ahead from 2-all in the first, taking leads of 5-2, 9-4, and took the lead 11-5 with a dropshot at the end of a rally in which he had worked the Malaysian well.

Pretty much the same happened in the next two games - Coppinger managing to keep a lid on proceedings as he worked the rallies to his advantage and forged ahead on the scoreboard, Ong sporadically threatening to close the gap but as often as not coming up with an error to stop his own progress.

From 2-all in the second Coppinger led 6-3, 9-5 then 11-6, and in the third he moved from 1-all to5-2 then 8-3 and Ong was never going to close that gap. At 10-6 Ong was in charge of the rally, working his opponent around the court for once, then but tinned a simple winning dropshot and Coppinger was through.

[14] Saurav Ghosal (Ind) 3-1 Nasir Iqbal (Pak)
              11/7, 5/11, 11/9, 11/4 (51m)

Saurav: “Standing on the barrel”

I have now seen Nasir a few times, and every time, I am impressed with his athletism, his movement, and his fast hands. I think once that boy (20, WR44) gets more and more exposure to top squash, he’ll quickly rise in the ranking, and will be one to watch.

Saurav had to come out with the A game today.

If he took the first in 12m 11/7, leading throughout, the second game was completely different, with the Pakistani controlling the T beautifully and despatching the shots like Witches sweets at Halloween! 6/2 up, then 10/5, he was dominating his opponent.

Mind you, at 5/6, Saurav could have come back, but a tremendous rally that will make it to Rally of the Month on SquashTV for sure gave a huge boost to his opponent. 11/5 in 8m.

And it didn’t look really good in the 3rd either for the Indian, as he found himself down 4/0.

Saurav, with the great experience he has of those matches, didn’t panic, can just came back, point per point, 5/6, 9/9, managing to turn the game/math around, taking that crucial one 11/9 in 13m.

Having broken his opponent spirit, Saurav just marched through the last game, and from 2/2, never looked back, 11/4.

It was an good match for Saurav, could have been a “match piège”, a “trick match”, Nasir was very hungry, skilled and fast. The Indian will be very happy to get away with a win in under an hour, 51m.

It must be incredibly hard to have such a generation of Legends in Pakistan, and trying to back it up for the new generations. Those guys, Nasir, Farhan Mehboob, are working extremely hard. So in my opinion, people in Pakistan, and elsewhere in the world, should just support them.

I have to work incredibly hard to beat Nasir today, he is trying to get into the top 10, top 20, we had a massive match in the Asian Games, today as well, each time was 3/1 and incredibly hard. He has such racquet skills and movement. I had to dig deep to beat him and come back on top of him.

In the second game, I was trying to attack and maybe I lost a bit of accuracy there. By trying to be too pro-active, I lost my precision. I got caught on the web…. But I nearly came back, we had that massive rally, and he got on top of it. After that, I just couldn’t come back…

Nice to say that Squash is in the best moment of its history in India. We just had the better results ever in the CWG and the Asian Games, and I’m proud to say we had the best result ever for a Team event in India by wining the Asian Games for our Country. And to do so, in a plateform such as the Asian Games….

To be honest, if I could, I would freeze that moment where I won the Gold for India and stay there in that moment forever.

[3] Nick  Matthew (Eng) 3-0 Gregoire Marche (Fra)
              11/6, 11/3, 11/4 (40m)

Nick, one for England

According to my Personal Stats Feeder, Mr Howard Harding from SquashInfo, in the past 15 years, it’s only the third time there is only 1 English player in the top 16. And had Nick lost today, it would have been the firs time EVER that there wouldn’t have been an English Player in the last 16.

Nick, the Queen thanks you.

More seriously, this match was a Nick’s Masterclass. If the first game was a bit close/disputed up to the middle of the game, a too anxious to finish the point Grégoire just made the errors at the turning point, and got from 5/5 to 5/8 in a shot. Nick hammered it down, 11/6 in a long 16m game that surely must have taken a lot out of the French National Champion.

The second, score doesn’t tell how hard Little Greg worked, 11/3 in still 10m. But what will break The Acrobat’s heart will be the last one, where from 2/3, he made 7 unforced errors after working his racquet out poor mite. Nick took the gift, thank you very much, and the game, 11/4.

It’s all part of the learning process. And I’m sure Grégoire is learning fast, I have no doubt.

All the coming up players, they have nothing to lose, and Greg is a player on the rise, and he has a great future before him.

I knew he had a very hard game two days ago, and I know that it’s normally the day after that you can get stiff, so I tried and made it as hard as possible in the beginning.

We’ve been proving by the Commonwealth games, the Asians Games that our sport is one of the best out there, and that if before the athletic of sport didn’t show on TV, now, thanks to SquashTV continuous effort, it really shows. But you can’t live on regret. And nothing says that I would have had a medal anyway, so I’m just happy I’m playing, and I hope to continue doing so for a few years more hopefully.

What that an ideal match? To be honest, I don’t know anymore nowadays. When you had a day rest, so
metimes you want to spend more time on court, but maybe not with a match, and sometimes, you play a five setter, and you feel great the next day. Of course, I’ve very aware of the potentially 5 matches in five days, and I had that in mind today. So you try and take a couple of positive out of it.

Well, one of them was that I kept the focus throughout the whole match, that’s keeping the 5 matches in a row in mind. I tried and stopped his momentum when he was starting to pick up the pace and go faster. And I got a bit more practising on the court as well.

And there are a lot of positive to take from the tournament still from an English point of you, if the more experienced players didn’t have the best of tournaments, the young ones did well, Waller played well, Joe was very unlucky, Chris played very well as well. It’s not all dark.

Saurav next. Funnily enough, I got a practice with him this morning. I had a look at him, he had a look at me, it happens sometimes, the luck of the practice!! I feel that Greg was a good practice for him, he plays very fast as well, about the same style of play, but with Saurav having more experience with the big events, whereas Greg rushed a bit the important points at the end.

Yes, with all the English Boys out of the tournament, I feel like a Tennis Star, or like Greg, he is the only player I know that has got a full team, I have the whole support team for myself! Of course, DP is still coaching Ali and a few of the boys that are playing Dubai next week, but I have him for myself, Camps (David Campion), the new Jade our physio, all for myself. No excuses!!!

That was an interesting match for me, I used to be lower guy playing the bigger guy, now I am the bigger guy playing the lower one. Like him, I wanted to play the top guys to learn from it.

The first time I saw him was in Qatar, in the World Juniors, and I was impressed. He is one of the coming up players, and I’m really happy to get a 3/0 against him. Like I told him when we shook hands, I’m sure we are going to be playing again a lot in the future, and it was good for me to play him now for sure.

I'm feeling really good at the moment - I knew it would be important to keep the first two matches short if possible and from tomorrow I think my tournament really gets started.

I think I have maybe the toughest draw of the top players. If things go to seeding I have to beat two top ten players just to reach the semi-final but to be the No.1 you have to beat everyone and I believe I can deal with it.

Jonah has been so great for me, he’s been coaching me for the past 8, 9 years of my career, and I wouldn’t be standing here without him, I’m very lucky to have him, hopefully I can keep him proud.

My mother and my father, pushing me, it’s great having their support all the time, and I hope I’ll be keeping them proud for sure…

[2] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind)
              11/6, 11/4, 11/1 (29m)

Shorbagy in cruise control

He's been here two weeks already, and has had lots of practice time on the court - and it shows.

Mohamed Elshorbagy eased through to the last sixteen with a comprehensive win over Mahesh Mangaonkar, dominating the match from start to finish despite the young Indian's best efforts.

A couple of early tins from the world number one put us at 3-all in the first game, but once he cut out those errors Shorbagy was in command, moving ahead to 7-3, and taking the lead 11-6.

A quick 3-0 start to the second was extended to 7-2, then 11-4 for a two-nil lead, and the Egyptian's control became greater in the third as he went 5-1 up quickly.

Mangaonkar was in contention in a lot of the rallies, but even when he seemed to have the upper hand Shorbagy's court coverage and determined retrieving made sure that he stayed ahead - the rallies the Egyptian won to go 5-1, then 8-1, and finally 11-1 were all like that -  under pressure but still emerging the winner.

Not a nice experience for the underdog, that's for sure, but a bit of a statement from the world number one, who now professes to like this new court even more than the old one on which he reached the World final and won his first Super Series title ...

It’s my First ever world Open!

When I knew that Karim and LJ were not in the draw, I really wanted to play on of the top players, I knew it would be good experience for the future.

The pace is getting higher since I’m in the seniors, I’m just beginning, it’s a whole different ball of game.

And like Adrian said, it’s like 5 persons at once. That’s exactly how I felt!!!!

[11] Simon Rösner (Ger) 3-1 [Q] Lucas Serme (Fra)
               6/11, 11/6, 11/6, 11/9 (64m)

Lucas Le Grand impresses tonight

I have said it to Simon, so I can allow myself to write it. I don’t have I have ever seen Simon played as badly as he played in the first game. Six unforced errors, and really unforced as they happened at times Lucas didn’t put him under that much pressure.

On the other hand, my little Lucas, who I truly and utterly believe in, played the best squash I saw him play ever.

Lucas is like Camille, I’ve never ever heard them have a bad word against anybody, push or block, never aggressive, never took a double bounce ever, very matter of fact, and never took my work for them/France for granted, like so many others have done over the years. With Lucas, like with Camille, what you see is what you get.

And what we saw from Lucas tonight was a heck of a lot!!!! I know, Lucas doesn’t think he played that great, that he could have done better. Well, he lost, so yes, of course, he could have done better. But Simon is one of the best players in the world for crying out loud, and my Godfathers, did that young Frenchman gave him hell tonight.

First game was 10m, 4/0, 6/2, 9/3, 10/4. Lucas dominated completely the game. Yes, Simon just couldn’t adapt to the court, while Lucas just got on there as if he belonged there. He adapted perfectly from traditional to glass, as an old pro bless him. He didn’t much to lose mind. Simon did…

It could only get better from the German after that AWFUL start, and in the second, 4/1, 6/3, 8/4 he went. Lucas was on his tail, 6/8, but started to make a few uncharacteristic errors, and bowed in 15m (first game was 10).

The third was about Simon taking the control, 10/4, and Lucas giving a big push at the end, to bow 11/6. But the fourth was a beauty.

Now completely back in the game, Simon was hitting so hard, trying (and succeeding most of the times) to overpower the French boy, and as every would mix it with feathery drop shots. But Lucas defending like Beng Hee, finding exquisite crosscourt lobs that seem to really bother Simon, and found a perfect balance between perfect long game and short game/counterdropping.

Lucas was that close to force a decider, down 2/6 8/4, when he managed to make the German doubt again when he clawed back to 8/8.

At 10/8, Simon turned, and as he had a no let in a “similar situation, although not the same”, hit the ball with all the power he could… and drilled poor Lucas. He was penalised for dangerous play, 9/10. He was soooo embarrassed poor mite, and I swear that there is no way it was intentional. Never ever everrrrr Simon would so something like that in purpose. Lucas knew it, we all knew it.

“Il a cassé mon Lucas” I laughed “He broke my Lucas”…..


Anyway, Simon finally took the next rally and won the match. It was a superb performance from my little compatriot, who made me very proud tonight. Whereas Simon has now a match on that court, and I have no doubt he’ll play a much better game against Shorbagy tomorrow. He won’t have the choice, mind. But tomorrow, he’ll be the one having nothing to lose…. And that will change a lot of things…

Yes, I guess I played a good enough match, but to be honest, from the second onwards, I just lost my length. I know, he was putting me under a lot of pressure, but not all the time, and I should have been more pro active there. I think I could have put him under more pressure there.

Thing is, I felt a bit like a spectator at times. I never had the review thingy, so when I was looking at the back, and I would see the tv screen, for a split second, I had that feeling where I thought I was at home, watching SquashTV! That was surreal!!!!!

Now physically, I felt good. Even when he was putting me under pressure, at no time I felt tired. So I feel a bit frustrated, like I missed a bit of an opportunity there. I had more to give…

I promise you, I never ever wanted to drill him, I thought he was out of the way, but then he moved. Never I would hit him in purpose. [and we all know that Simon, don’t worry, Fram]

When I went to practice this morning, it was the first time ever I got to hit on there, there was not availability before, I felt like the tin was higher.

Not much, a millimetre, but just enough higher to make me clip it. And it’s exactly what happened in the first game.

Tonight I felt like I have been running my way in the match. I had no feeling off the ball, I couldn’t finish off the rallies, and I basically had to run for each point. I was behind the ball all the time..
I guess it’s one of those days where you are happy to get through despite having no feeling and no confidence.

Lucas has got a great lob. And I just didn’t know what to do with it. He even managed to lob me, and that says the lot, with my height.

As I didn’t have any confidence with my shots at the front, I didn’t know what to do. He just played so well. I’m not just saying that. He truly played very well. And I think he’ll be top 20 soon if he keeps on playing like that. I didn’t see him play before, and I am truly impressed.

I’ll definitely will have to raise my game tomorrow.

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