• 14th Qatar Classic Squash Championship • 29 Oct-06 Nov 2015 • Doha •  





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TODAY at the Qatar Classic - Daily updates from Doha
29-Oct, Qualifying Day One

Qualifying for the 14th edition of the Qatar Classic started today at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash complex in Doha, with the first round of the men's and the reinstated women's competitions.

Good day for the Egyptian Girls

The top six seeds in the women's draw received byes through to tomorrow's finals, and in the ten matches played six were won by Egyptians - no surprise there, then!

In the only result to go against the seeding, Amina Yousry accounted for Liu Tsz-Ling in straight games, and the closest match was the last of the day, when Mena Nasser saved three match balls in the fifth to deny Hong Kong's Carmen Lee.

Nouran El Torky, Hania El Hammamy and Nadine Shahin were all made to work hard for their wins, all against opponents from Pakistan making a welcome appearance on the world stage and acquitting themselves well.

Almezayen and Sharpes surprise, Meguid survives

There were sixteen men's matches which featured losses for all three Qatari players and a pair of upsets among some tough encounters.

Kuwait's Abdullah Almezayen came from two games down to beat South African Shaun Le Roux in 69 minutes, and England's Charles Sharpes recovered from a game down to beat Indian Mahesh Mangaonkar in one minute less.

The longest and toughest match of the day, though, was an all-Egyptian matchup between Omar Abdel Maguid and Mohamed Reda. Meguid won in five, taking the last two games 11/9, 11/9 in a 78-minute match that saw both players on the floor several times and requiring 63 decisions from the referees.

              Full results on the Draws page, reports below

Draws & Results

Photo Galleries

[1] Alan Clyne (Sco) 3-0 Shehab Essam (Egy)
                  11/8, 11/6, 11/2 (30m)
[12] Joe Lee (Eng) 3-1 Lance Beddoes (Nzl) 
                   7/11, 11/4, 11/9, 11/5 (46m)

Funny thing as both Alan Clyne – against Shehab Essam – and Joe Lee – against Lance Beddoes didn’t have the best of starts.

Alan was down 5/0, 7/4, to finally take the first having scored 6 points in a row, 10/7, 11/8. Shehab was hitting the ball pretty hard, but maybe lacked a bit of patience against the relentless Scot, that took the next too rather comfortably 11/6, 10/1, match ball, a superb drop shot that completely wrongfoots Alan, ending up on the floor! Still, only “partie remise” and Alan closes it down 11/2.

For Joe, things were a bit more complicated. Lance has got a lot of potential, is a regular in Qatar, and was advised but nobody else than the Legend Geoff Hunt. And it started very well for Lance, dominating Joe 7/4, 9/7, thanks to a few nervous unforced errors from the English boy, Lance taking the opener 11/7.

The second is much more comfy for Joe, form 3/3, he’ll take the game 11/4, a few errors this time from the New Zealander. Third, another good start 3/0 for Joe, but the rest of the game is a seesaw battle, good long rallies, the ball visiting the four corners, and the players doing a lot of work. 10/8 game ball Joe, nervous times as he clips it, 9/10, but a good crosscourt deep, 11/9 Joe, 2/1 up.

Fourth is a bit weird, very close, not much between the players after yet again a good start from Joe 4/0, 4/5, 5/6, and Lance that seems to get mentally out of the game completely. Short rallies and a few errors later, Joe strings 5 points, 11/5!

I was 5/0 down in the first ! I don’t know, I was nervous I guess. I was making silly errors as well, I guess I was playing well in training but those early errors soon brought me back to reality!

After the first game though I played well, in particular I took it well off the volley, I think I made one or two unforced errors only out of the forehand. Pretty happy with my length as well, especially on those courts, where you don’t know if it’s hot or dying!....

I’m kind of happy with my squash today. It was not my best squash by all means, but I showed myself glimpse (again) of what I can do, and I came through a potentially tricky match. And it’s a step forward from last week…

A lot of it today was on his terms, and even when I lost my length, it was because he was working the ball round. But then again, he kept moving the ball around a bit too much maybe when my length was good, opening the court a bit for me. I guess he lost a bit of patience when my length was better.

Still, I let him back in the game when my shots didn’t need to be that good. Still, it was the right shot to play, it’s more about that margin when playing the shot than the shot himself

When you said I raided my game, I thought you meant I raised my height. No, I’m still as little as I ever was….!

in the first game, we are 7/7, then he opened the lead, 10/8, playing a better attacking squash than I did, and he put me under a lot of pressure. I lost 12/10, but after that, I concentrated on playing a steady squash, only playing shots from good positions. I got a better control of the game, of the pace, and felt more and more confident.

I stopped playing PSA events as I lost my sponsor, and it was more difficult for me to cover my expenses to travel around. So I have only playing in Kuwait with local players, and I was not used to the kind of pace Shawn imposed in the beginning!

In the first two games, Shawn played really well, and I thought no way I’m wining this, but I just pushed myself as much as I could in the 3rd, and I could see that he was getting a bit tired, a bit heavier in his movement. So my shots started coming in.

I’m so happy with be injury free, my physical trainer is pushing me and I’m trying to lose the weight as well. I just hope I can play well tomorrow against Leo..

Abdullah Almezayen (Kuw) 3-2 [11] Shaun Le Roux (Rsa)
                    8/11, 5/11, 11/9, 11/7, 11/5 (69m)
[6] Leo Au (Hkg) 3-1 Jaymie Haycocks (Eng)
                    10/12, 11/4, 11/7, 11/4 (46m)

After a very close first game, that Jaymie Haycocks took on his third game ball, HK Leo Au stepped up his game, finding some exquisite long drop shots that made the court very big for his opponent. Turning point of the match could have been a stunning rally in the 3rd at 4/6 Jaymie serving, beautiful shots and pace, that maybe took a bit out of the 31 years old English player, former top 50, now 70 but still as dangerous as ever. Funny thing, you’ll be happy about that Jaymie, one of the women that was watching the match asked me if you were a young player coming up, cause she didn’t know you. I swear it’s true…

Moving back to squash, the last three was more comfortable for the HK player, but it was a truly enjoyable match, clean, fair, no discussion. Pretty nice start of the tournament I say.

As for Shawn against Abdullah, I arrived as the South African was comfortably up 2/0 and 4/2. It seemed that it was going to be a quick affair, Shawn was moving well, and finding lovely finish to nice rallies. But don’t ask me how, Abdullah started to grind away his confidence, point per point.

Patiently, relentlessly, the Kuwaiti number 1 just turned the tables round, finding his length again and his shots at the same time! Third went Abdullah’s way, but sooo close, 9/9, it was all possible. A no let against Shawn, not overjoyed the South African, but no complain, and a stroke to make it 11/9. “Conduct stroke for racquet abuse” we heard as Shawn’s racquet decided to learn to fly as he exited the court…

The next two games will be going only one way, Abdullah. Having found his second wind – probably his 4th or 5th actually, the lefthander grew in confidence, having nothing to lose. Maybe Shawn got a bit tired, or just did he forget how he got up 2/0, by being positive and attacking. But that’s easy to say when you are comfortably sitting down typing away at a desk afterwards…

[7] Zahed Mohamed (Egy) 3-2 Henrik Mustonen (Fin)
                    9/11, 11/5, 11/13, 11/4, 11/9 (49m)
[10] Greg Lobban (Sco) 3-0 Tayyab Aslam (Pak)
                    11/6, 11/4, 11/2 (27m)

He came on court very interested, I didn’t know much about him, but I knew he was Pakistani, and his kind of play, very attacking. I started to take the right corners and it became a bit easier.

He was looking for the front corners a lot, so I had to tidy up my game, and he seemed to lose interest when I started controlling the game.

I was 9/4 up in the third, I slipped in the top right corner, and I got a bit weary of my movement, afraid to get injured. He played really well, attacked a lot, found some good drops and won that game.

In the 4th, I got my length back, I was patient, not attacking foolishly, but waiting for the right opportunity. And I just kept telling myself not to lose that 5th, that it was the decider, to stay focused, and I really wanted to win.

I’m happy I got through this match, I was playing PSL for Winchester on Tuesday night so I only arrived this morning at 3am, and I was tired a bit, so now I’ve got it out of my system, and I feel much better!


[9] Raphael Kandra (Ger) 3-0
Abdulrahman Al-Malki (Qat)    11/5, 11/4, 11/7 (25m)

The Qatari seemed able to match Rafa’s game earlyin the match, but the German was just too good all around today, and the more the match advanced, the more he was in control.

I felt pretty confident the whole match. A bit of a nervous start maybe, you come a long way to try and qualify, you want to do good. So it takes 4, 5 rallies to see how you are moving, and you don’t mind losing a few rallies to start with.

After that, I found that I could do more or less what I intended to do, I was focused and stayed positive throughout the match. If it goes according to seeding, I should play against Abouelghar, and that will be tough, so I was trying out my shots to try and be as comfortable as possible on the court.

[14] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0 Basem Makrem (Egy)
 11/2, 11/7, 11/5 (20m)

Never easy, so difficult to play not only your friend, but much more than that, as we say in Arabic, he raised me since I was 7….

You saw how wonderful of a guy he is, in Alex, he stayed the whole week to coach me. So no, not easy, and I’m glad it’s over.

Bassem is actually playing and coaching at the same time, and one of the most successful coaches of

Charles Sharpes (Eng) 3-1 [16] Mahesh Mangaonkar (Ind)
                      12/14, 11/9, 11/6, 11/7 (68m)

Is it only when I watch Charles that he manages to get into chatty matches with a few too many decisions? It could be…

Bless those two, they were both in a ‘I need to express myself out there’ mood, and Wayne Smith had a good job to do to keep the match under control. Which he did pretty well I thought. 44 decisions apparently for a 4 setter under 70m. I’ve seen worse mind, much much worse!

First game was extremely close and truly nothing between the players, with Charles getting himself a game ball at 10/9, but it’s the Indian that clinches that opener, 14/12.

Second one is about the same, huge battle, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/8, 8/9, Charles getting the game on a no let on his second attempt, 11/9.

If Mahesh looked a bit down mentally – or physically – in the 3rd, losing his length completely, he soon regrouped in the 4th, and both the players were giving their best – I thought we were in for a 5th, as Mahesh was always in contact with the score, 5/6, 7/8, but Charles seems a bit more accurate in the end, and it made the difference probably. 11/7 for the English boy.

We only met once, about 4 years, but it was a very hard 5 setters, which I think I won. So I knew that today was going a tough game.

Only one point in it the whole first game, and when I lost it, it felt very disappointing at the time. After that, I actually felt I deserved to win the first game, I had the beating of him today, I clipped the tin a few times in the first, cut those ones out, and the tins started to become winners, I managed to stay very positive…

Only 44 decisions! Come on Fram, it’s half what we had last week, I’m on the right tracks!!!

[2] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 3-0 Ben Coleman (Eng)
                     11/8, 11/7, 11/7 (45m)

Solid performance from Ben Coleman, 24 and 63 in the world, against “the Man of the Hour”, Ryan Cuskelly, 28, just having reached his best ranking ever, 22, back from a very successful tournament in Halifax, beating Marwan El Shorbagy in the semis, and Karim Gawad in the final!

Needless to say he could have been tired and all, but he performed beautifully today, a very sharp performance against the up for it young Englishman, who didn’t have good draws lately, getting Daryl Selby, seeded 1 in the first round of St George’s, and again here, Ryan, #1 qualifiers!

Like Geoff Hunt noted, Ryan has been up and coming for a while, he took his time to realise that was important for his squash, basically was the squash side of things. Not the referees, not anything else that squash. And it is paying dividends now…

I had a few good 6 months, I’m improving at each tournament, I’m now focusing on my game, I don’t get involved with anything else now, the referees or other things….

Rodney Martin has been coaching me since I’m 18, 19, it’s been a long road, and he’s been helping me with everything really. There are not many top 10 players to come out from Australia nowadays, it’s more difficult for us to learn, it took me time on the circuit to get better, I can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Rodney has helped me in so many ways, he is not just a coach, he has been a second father to me, and my mentor.

As for today’s match, I more or less flew straight from Halifax, and I knew it could be difficult to get the body started. It wasn’t unbelievable squash today, but I did the job.

[13] Nasir Iqbal (Pak) 3-1 Ammar Altamimi (Kuw)
                   11/6, 6/11, 12/10, 11/4 (42m)

An extremely pleasant match that was, fair and clean, very few decisions, Nasir maybe just a bit fitter at the end. Ammar needed that 3rd game badly, and maybe just didn’t find his second wind in time to put any kind of pressure on the Pakistani at the end. Still, lovely pace with stunning shots and retrieval from both, loved it.

On a personal note, it was a pleasure – as ever – to watch Nasir play, I just enjoy his style, he is fluid and moves so nicely, but it was also soooo nice to see a few Pakistani girls and boys in the tournament and supporting each other.

It had been a long time since that happened, the level of the ladies is pretty good and I’m sure they will do good once they get some exposure and experience on the tour.

Welcome back Pakistan, it’s lovely to have you back my friends.

The third was the turning point. Ammar played so well today, and I was struggling with my length for the first three games, I was trying to play straight, but everything ended up in the middle, and he was killing it!

The 4th, I finally managed to find some nice length and straighten my shots, so I won that game easier.

For the first game, I really focused on winning it, as you mentioned that last week, against Sharpes, I was not concentrating enough, and that probably cost me the match.

I am grateful to you for that note, it helped me today…

Tomorrow, I’m playing against a French player, Greg Marche, he is a very experienced player, but I want that seat on the main draw, I really want it.

[4] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) 3-2 Mohamed Reda (Egy)
                    11/5, 9/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/9 (78m)

Match of the Day

Didn’t see the first two games, so I will comment heavily on some decisions that seemed weird in the third – they seemed very harsh against Meguid, but then again, I’m pretty sure John Massarella, main ref, was making a point, and probably allowed the match to keep on much more fluidly that if he didn’t pass on the message strongly…

It was a very long game, 2 m short of 80, with again too many decisions, 63, including 23 lets and 40 strokes no lets. As in, yes a lot of decisions, but strong ones, not the let us to death we are trying to stay away from as a sport.

Was it a pleasant match to watch? No. Were they some excellent rallies in there? Yes. Did they both played superb squash/attacking/retrieving? Yes.

Those two know each other very well, since a very young age. They both played the best they could on the day. They are still friends at the end…

Like I said, I hardly saw anything of the first two games, arrived on game ball, 10/9 Reda, and a (what seemed) harsh stroke 11/9.

In the third, Omar is basically getting hammered by the ref, truly making a point and his message clear: do not block your opponent. Omar is up 5/1, playing really well, then progressively Mohamed Ali, very focused, serving fast and finding great attacking shots will find a way back on the game, 11/7. Omar is frustrated, and feeling hard done by.

But good for him, he comes back very calm, on his game, and plays a much clearer straighter game it seems. The game is more intense and close than ever, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8 9/9. It’s all happening, and it’s finally Omar that closes it down 11/9 to force a decider.

3/0 Omar, 3/3, 4/4, a superb rally at 5/4 for Omar, Ali is being distanced, 8/4 down. But he hasn’t said die yet, he claws back beautifully, 8/8. Omar stops the points haemorrhaging, and sets up 2 match balls.

Reda on fire will save one on a stroke, a lot of contact at 10/9 “Ref, he is killing me” shouts Reda, but on a squeezed backhand drive, Omar clinches the match 11/9.

“How can you do you job” Misaki (Omar’s girlfriend) asks me at the end. “I just watch one match and I’m exhausted!” And Cubs to retort “well, you care, she doesn’t.”

Yes, that’s it. It must be…

I think I was playing well, I didn’t hit a tin for the first three games, only a couple in the last two. It’s the least errors I ever did I think.

I’m more relaxed now, I’m not that bothered about winning or losing, I am more consistent, and I just want to enjoy my squash, and prove to myself that I can play well. I have been training hard lately, and I don’t want that hard work to go to waste…

And it’s never easy to play against him, as we grew up together…

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