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





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TODAY at the Qatar Classic - Daily updates from Doha
30-Oct, Day Two, Qualifying Finals

Sixteen matches today at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex, with places in the main draw on offer in the men's and women's competitions.

It was another good day for the Egyptian girls as they claimed five of the eight spots. Young Mayar Hany opened the day by beating top seed Donna Urquhart, and Mena Nasser finished it by putting out second seed Misaki Kobayashi ]who had to retire injured after a collision early in the fourth game].

In between Nadine Shahin got the better of Milou van der Heijden, Amina Yousry beat Sina Wall, and Hania El Hammamy won her all-action all-Egyptian match with Nouran El Torky.

Also upsetting the odds to reach the main draw for the first time was England's Fiona Moverley, and while Olivia Blatchford and Coline Aumard justified their seedings to win, Aumard finds herself up against fellow Frenchwoman Camille Serme - who was coaching her during the match - in the first round.

In the men's draw six of the matches went to seeding, although none could be classed as easy wins. Greg Lobban and Ali Farag progressed against the seedings, Lobban beating Zahed Mohamed in five to book himself match against Max Lee, a repeat of their US Open first round, while Farag came from a game down to beat fellow-Egyptian Omar Abdel Meguid.

Men's Qualifying Finals:        updated main draws

[1] Alan Clyne (Sco) 3-0 [12] Joe Lee (Eng)
                    11/4, 11/4, 11/3 (40m)
[6] Leo Au (Hkg) 3-2 Abdullah Almezayen (Kuw)
                    6/11, 11/4, 10/12, 11/9, 11/2 (57m)
[10] Greg Lobban (Sco) 3-2 [7] Zahed Mohamed (Egy)
                    11/9, 3/11, 5/11, 11/7, 13/11 (73m)
[2] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 3-0 Charles Sharpes (Eng)
                    15/13, 11/5, 11/6 (50m)

[8] Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 3-2 [9] Raphael Kandra (Ger)
                   11/5, 10/12, 11/8, 9/11, 11/4 (67m)
[5] Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) 3-0 [15] Olli Tuominen (Fin)
                   11/7, 11/4, 11/7 (31m)
[14] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [4] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
                 9/11, 11/7, 11/6, 11/5 (54m)
[3] Gregoire Marche (Fra) 3-1 [13] Nasir Iqbal (Pak)
                8/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (52m)

Women's Qualifying Finals:    updated main draws

[12] Mayar Hany (Egy) 3-2 [1] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
                      7/11, 12/10, 11/6, 9/11, 11/8 (55m)
[6] Coline Aumard (Fra) 3-1 [11] Millie Tomlinson (Eng)
                     11/3, 11/8, 8/11, 12/10 (57m)
[9] Nadine Shahin (Egy) 3-0 [5] Milou van der Heijden (Ned)
                    11/7, 11/7, 11/8 (25m)
[3] Olivia Blatchford (Usa) 3-0 [6] Lee Ka Yi (Hkg)
                   11/5, 11/7, 11/9 (26m)

[10] Fiona Moverley (Eng) 3-0 ]4] Mariam Metwally (Egy)
                   12/10, 11/5, 11/8 (26m)
Amina Yousry (Egy) 3-0 [13] Sina Wall (Ger)
                    11/6, 11/4, 11/8 (21m)
[14] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-2 [7] Nouran El Torky (Egy)
                    11/9, 11/6, 3/11, 6/11, 11/4 (48m)
[16] Mena Nasser (Egy) 3-1 [2] Misaki Kobayashi (Jpn)
                   7/11, 11/6, 11/7, 3/4 rtd (28m)

Draws & Results

Photo Galleries

"we qualified !!!"

[1] Alan Clyne (Sco) 3-0 [12] Joe Lee (Eng) 11/4, 11/4, 11/3 (40m)

One of those matches where the scores definitely doesn’t tell you the story, and the hard work produced. Both first games were 14m each, with massive, absolutely massive rallies at the start of each game, where Alan seemed to dictate the pace/game, and never seemed out of his comfort zone.

Joe matched the Scot physically, but got the wrong end of sooo many long and gruelling rallies, he got frustrated at times, trying the attack from maybe not the best of position. From the middle of the game, Alan collected the dividends of his tactics, with Joe attacking a bit too early, making a few too many errors for his own good.

Not that I am hammering the point AT ALL, you know me, not my style, but we had 6 decisions. Six. And it was a bleeping disputed match. No discussion, no argument, no need for a prominent refereeing…. I rest my case.

I’m very happy, it’s not often you get to win two matches 3/0 under 40m in the qualifying. And I must have played well to beat somebody like Joe in straight games.

I had a game plan, I stuck to it… you can’t for much more…

It is quite tough when you have beaten a player during two seasons, four times in a row, and suddenly, he beat me during the GP in Manchester, and again today. I feel he probably played a bit better, while I played just a bit worse, and that show the fine line there is between the players.

At the end, he run away with the score, but all the starts of the games were very testing, but once he got that couple of points, he relaxed, got more confident, and he picked me up from 2/0 up.

He is such a skilful player, he can string a few points within seconds, and if you are out of focus for a split second, you find yourself with a few more points on the scoreboard! And in the 3rd, that’s what happened. I was up 9/5, relaxed a bit, and he can win the points so easily… That is what I’m really not happy about today.

Overall, I played the right game, send everything deep enough at the back and minimise the angles, as if I opened the court too early, he would have chopped me easily.

Yesterday was my first ever victory on Qatar soil, and obviously, my first time to qualify in the Qatar Classic…

[6] Leo Au (Hkg) 3-2 Abdullah Almezayen (Kuw)
                6/11, 11/4, 10/12, 11/9, 11/2 (57m)

Up and down and up and down would be the way to describe this one…

Leo a slow start in the first game 5/0 down where as there was nothing wrong with Abdullah’s amazing racquet skills, 11/6 for the Kuwaiti.

Leo get back in there in the second, maybe Abdullah feels the consequences of his amazing come back yesterday against Shawn Leroux from 2/0, easy for Leo, 11/4.

Third is strange indeed, with Abdullah tinning the ball far too much while Leo is controlling the game, 9/5 and suddenly, our Leo away with the HK fairies bless him, letting the Kuwaiti back in the match, 4 points straight tot 9/9!

With a second wind and plenty of confidence, Abdullah is back to his former WR33 instead of his actual 158, and chops his way to 12/10. Leo and the HK support clan are not happy.

The fourth is the most disputed of the 5 games, with Abdullah truly playing amazingly well, finding nicks from outside the court, and Leo doing his best to limit the damage and weather the nickstorm.

3/0 for Abdullah, 4/1, 5/2, Leo claws back to 5/5, 6/6, 7/7, 8/8, 9/9! Abdullah two points away from the match, but a tin and a stroke later, Leo forces the decider that he’ll take in minutes, Abdullah having nothing but fumes in the tank, 11/2

The first game, I don’t think Zahed was awake and switched on yet, but in the second and third, he came on really fast, and outplayed me really using different angles. So Alan [Clyne] told me to straighten out, and I try and simplify my game, trying to concentrate on playing simple things.

In the 5th, it was not the squash I wanted to play, it was not the nicest squash to watch, a lot of stop and start, not really a free flowing squash. But we are both young, with so much at stake…

I’ve been trying to concentrate on my length with several coaches, I just spent a week in Orlando with David Palmer who told me, like you, that my length is my weakness, and I’m working on it, but it’s like my natural instinct is to go short whereas my opponent is at the front… I’m improving though…

[10] Greg Lobban (Sco) 3-2 [7] Zahed Mohamed (Egy)
                       11/9, 8/11, 5/11, 11/7, 13/11 (73m)


A very very very good game between two 23 year old hungry attacking players, Greg L being the lower WR38, Zahed WR34.

I just love those two players. They are quite different. I never saw either of them take a double bounce, block or not call their ball down. Zahed is usually a very quiet boy, that doesn’t really believe in himself or his talent, rarely/never argues a decision. Greg is more bubbly bless him, he barks a bit sometimes, he’s got guts and will, but they are two of the fairest players out there.

And today, it was rather fluid squash, played played at 250m/h, quick intense very watchable squash, and truly nice, until…. Rewind

First game, nothing between the players, and Greg sneaks it at the end, 11/9. Second and third, Greg is completely outplayed to be honest, Zahed is playing his strong at the back delicate and surprising at the front squash, and it’s working wonders. Greg is getting more and more frustrating.

I feel the 4th is where Zahed let himself down really. He who had hardly made any unforced errors didn’t keep the momentum going, and became a bit complaisant with himself, 5 tins in that game alone, losing his length and letting the Scot waaaayyyy back in the game, 4/4, 10/5, 11/7, with a few great rallies as well.

Up to that point, very few decisions but the 5th was going to be a wake up/now is our time moment for the refs. Nothing between the players that game I tell you, a few too many stoppages, and if Zahed seems to take the advantage 3/0, 7/4, Greg won’t have it, playing a very fast strong hard hitting squash, 3/3, 7/7.

The tension is palpable, Zahed is tinning a few shots too many, Greg is more and more intense and told to calm down. A few too many decisions. 8/8. 9/9. 10/9 MB Greg, No Net, 10/10. Greg goes for a huge winner, that goes in, second match ball, 11/10. Follows an endless slow pace rally, none of them want to make the error, but it’s a tin for Greg. Well, the refs and Zahed say it’s a tin, Greg is not of that opinion: “ball is very good! What’s wrong with you people”.

11/11. 5 lets, and a stunning return of serve from the Scott Zahed cannot pick up, third match ball, 12/11. And on a stroke – which in my opinion was a bit harsh as it seemed from where I was there was space to the ball, but what do I know – it’s a never in doubt match for an ecstatic young Scott. Zahed, on the other hand, was logically not a happy bunny and made his opinion very clear in Arabic…

[2] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 3-0 Charles Sharpes (Eng)
                      15/13, 11/5, 11/6 (50m)

A very long first game, 23m (thanks to Graham Waters for his perfect scoresheets), with Ryan comfy ahead, 7/4, only to be caught up very a few hungry/upforit/nothingtolose young Englishman, 7/8, 8/9. Game ball Ryan, 10/9, who’ll have three more before closing it finally, 15/13.

Understandably, Charles a bit flat in the second, Ryan takes it 11/5, but still 10m game. The third is muuuuch closer, with Charles taking a healthy lead 5/1 before Ryan felt the danger to come back 5/5, 6/6, but again, a few lovely attacks – including sharp angles – and it’s 11/6 in 12m….

The courts are a bit slippery. It’s not just here, they seem to put a coating, a lacquer that means that it’s easier to maintain, but the sweat just seems to stand on it instead of disappearing like with the old courts. Today, I slipped in the second, and broke a shoe lace, and it seemed to have happen a few times now. It’s the same on the glasscourt nowadays, not just traditional.

I hope it gets sorted quickly, because when you have two players, the sweat seems to stand there and when you are at full speed, it can be pretty dangerous and you can easily snap a hamstring when you slip.

I had a bit of a lead in the first, but lost a bit of concentration, and I only managed to sneak that one out 15/13, it was an important game to win. Pretty happy with the fact I’m feeling much better today, yesterday I just arrived, so it took me a day to get used to the time zone, conditions etc.

In the third, I played a few silly shots, wanting to finish the rallies too quickly, but I didn’t want him to win the third, and take confidence in his shots. So I got my length again, attacked a bit more and managed to keep the rallies short at the end, happy with that.

 Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) 3-0 [15] Olli Tuominen (Fin) 11/7, 11/4, 11/7 (31m)

He was not at his best I think, his movement to the front was not as fluid as usual. But I just concentrated on playing my best squash, not on the fact he might be injured.

A month ago, I moved to Manchester as my wife is doing a postgraduate course in Orthodontic – she is a dentist. So it was good for her, and good for me. I’m now training with Andy Whipp, he is a good coach, he is teaching me how to win matches like today, on concentrating on little things, like making sure I’m pushing myself at all times to put him under pressure and force him to do a lot of work.

Pretty simple, but it works…

 [8] Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 3-2
[9] Raphael Kandra (Ger)    
          11/5, 10/12, 11/8, 9/11, 11/4 (67m)


What a great entertainment that match was. Two great young warriors, so fair, so fast, so clever and skilful, both reading each other’s game beautifully – amazingly I may add, as some of their reflex/reactions was just stunningly magic, very few decisions, fast pace, lovely angles, attacking squash. Loved it from beginning to end.

Of course, OF COURSE, Abou had to make too many errors at times. That mental side of the game – and probably physical as well, as he gets a bit tired sometimes and will try and shorten the rallies – is his weakness. If you look at the ratio age/results, Marwan and him were in the final of the World Juniors in Qatar. Marwan is 22, top 10. Abou same age, 36. The only thing that is preventing Abou from reaching the top is Abou’s brain. Not the talent. Cause that he has plenty.

Rafa is one of those players I feel that need a break. He is working so hard, so gifted, but maybe lacking confidence, never really letting his talent go through in important matches. Maybe too self critical. But clever. And hard worker. And soooo gifted with a racquet. He proved it tonight, keeping up with Abou in all the compartments of the game, speed, reading of the game, attacking skills, reactions, mental toughness. A joy to watch.

It’s a cliché. But one of those matches you don’t want a loser to emerge out of. And it was a pretty open one all the way to the 4th, with Abou wizzing through the first game 11/5, finally making the gap in the 2nd 10/8 to tin nicely the next 3 points, 11/8 Rafa.

Third, a great start for the young German, 4/0, 5/1, 6/3, 8/5, but cutting the errors down to a minimum, Abou claws back and will string 6 points from there, 11/8.

Fourth is the longest game of the match, 18m with stunning rallies all the way, amazing pickups, shots that don’t exist in the book, “Unbelievable that guy, he is sooo crazy” shouts Rafa after a ridiculous shot from the Egyptian, only to find an even more ridiculous one himself on the next shot! 6 tins for Abou, none for Rafa. Incredible game, Rafa takes it 11/9….

But that last game takes just a bit too much out of the German, who gets a bad start, NoLet, a tin and a winner from About, 3/0. From that point on, Abou has got the momentum/confidence, Rafa is losing his length, will make 5 UE out of the blue. The Egyptian takes the decider, 11/4 in 6m…

Still, what a game what a game what a game.

I feel that I’m on the right track, I’ve made changes to my training regime, I’m starting to work on the mental side [‘BOUT TIME IF YOU ASK ME, FG]. That match, a year ago, I would have gone for my shots and find the tin, and I would have lost for sure.

It was not my best squash, but I’m happy with the way I handled things today. And I hope this year is my breakthrough year. I had a good season so far, I hope I can get a few more good wins…

I felt well today, happy with my racquet skills, and movement wise too. I have had a good 6 months, and I was up for the match today, as I need points, I would like to be able to get up in the ranking enough to get to the main draw, as I never qualified for a World Series yet.

Last time we played was in HK, I lost again in 5 in a very tight game. What the most frustrating is that it’s not about the way I play, it’s all about him, if he plays winners or tins. I don’t have much saying in the matter, he is doing the match.

I guess the 5th shows the difference of level between us, I was not patient enough, lacked accuracy. He played some outrageous shots, and was on top of the ball and I was not positive enough, I just hung in there.

Now I’m off to my Military Camp, that’s why I’m missing all the end of the year massive tournaments, but they are my main sponsors, they have been very good to me. So no regrets, and my first tournament back should be the ToC in New York…

Raphael Kanda

[3] Grégoire Marche (Fra) 3-1 [13] Nasir Iqbal (Pak)
8/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (52m)

What a stunning lovely great game that was! And for two and a half game I thought we were in for an upset, as Nasir was making the game, the show, and the winners!

Nasir, one of the nicest players on the tour, and the best Pakistani to come out of the former Squash Flagship country for a very long time, impressed the nicks out of me today, yet again.

He put TGreg under so much pressure taking the first game from 8/8 to 11/8 by just outplaying the Frenchman completely.

If TGreg comes back with a vengeance in the second, forcing a few errors out of the Pakistani racquet, 11/7, Nasir completely dominated the French, yet again in the third, well, up to 8/4 that is. That’s when he hit the wall.

The enormous effort he had to produce and the running/intensity he had to put on Greg to win each point – Greg being himself and retrieving everything – just caught up with the young Pakistani, 21 and 44 in the world. TGreg, more experienced, 25 and WR32, was able to sustain the pace much longer, stringing 6 points to 11/8 while Nasir found the tin 6 times just in that game.

And even if Nasir managed to find some lovely shots in the 4th, 3/3, 4/4, Greg looked always the winner and the stronger player, 11/7 in the 5th, still 15m long, as in, they both worked extremely hard…

I was struggling to play the ball at the back, so I had no confidence on my length, and I was struggling to attack from a good position. Very grateful for the fact he made a lot of errors and that he was not patient enough.

I was hoping for that I have to admit, I was trying to make the rallies long but I didn’t manage to do it for the whole match, la
cking a bit of consistency.

Anyway, not the best squash, but a win is a win, and I needed it. But what a good and fair player Nasir was today.

He is such an honest guy, he corrects the bad decisions, he congratulates you when you play a good shot, and he deserves to go up in the rankings.

Elhamdoulilah very much!

was prepared all day, did my routine as usual, I was completely ready for the match, but in the first rallies of the match, I was not in it, neither of us were I feel. That’s why maybe I was a bit nervous and vocal out there today, a bit unsettled.

All credit to him, the match was extremely fair today, very clean and honest match. Normally, when I play Omar, I stick the ball to the wall to close his angles. But today, he was leaning to the wall before I was playing the ball and volleying it so well. So I had to change my game, and vary my shots a lot, but it worked.

I was lucky he had a hard match yesterday, I felt like he let go of the last few points, the only thing I can say is that I’m grateful! It was always going to be tough playing against Omar, but finishing the match 3/1 a bit fresh physically is an enormous bonus.

[14] Ali Farag (Egy) 3-1 [4] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
                      9/11, 11/7, 11/6, 11/5 (54m)


It was a nice match to watch. Clean and fair, very few decisions and no arguing at all. Omar was not as sharp as he was yesterday, his first round match was brutal, and must have taken a bit out of him, both mentally and physically.

After a bit of an hesitant start for both, Omar clinches the first game thanks to a tin and a stunning winner, 11/9 in 18m.

The second starts with the momentum for Omar, 3/0, but Ali is very much on the ball right away, and scores 6 points in a row, 6/3, then 8/4, 9/5. Omar makes a few mistakes he didn’t do yesterday, that probably unsettled/frustrated him. He will come back to 7/9, but can’t stop the shots from Ali, and it’s 11/7 for the Harvard Man. 10m for that one.

The third is about the same pattern, excellent start from our Dentist, 3/1, but a roll of points for Ali, 5, 6/3, then another 5, 11/5. The 4th, a balanced beginning, not much between the players, but Ali just a couple of points ahead, just enough to relax him completely, wrong footing Omar at crucial times, from 4/4 to 6/4 then 10/5, 11/6 with not too much resistance from him in the last points it seemed…

Women's Matches

[12] Mayar Hany (Egy) 3-2 [1] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
                        7/11, 12/10, 11/6, 9/11, 11/8 (55m)

The first women's qualifying final saw the demise of top seed Donna Urquhart at the hands of teenage Egyptian Mayar Hany. When the Australian went 5-0 up in the first a five-setter didn't look on the cards, but Hany took an immediate lead in the second and from there on it it was close all the way to the end.

I’m so happy, I’m 18, I’m still a junior, it’s my first time on a major tournament, I would have never thought I could qualify for such a big event, especially against somebody like Donna!

I never saw her play, but she is so dangerous, the others told me, so they told me just do your best, try everything. So I went in there with no pressure, I would have never expected to beat her. I am sooo happy, and I want to thank a lot of people, my coaches, Haitham and Mohamed Farid, Mazen Hesham my cousin, Captain Ahmed Faragala, my parents and my brother Asser.

[6] Coline Aumard (Fra) 3-1 [11] Millie Tomlinson (Eng)
                        11/3, 11/8, 8/11, 12/10 (57m)

What started out looking like a comfortable passage into the main draw for French #2 Coline Aumard turned into a real battle as Millie Tomlinson fought back and so nearly took the match in to a decider.

Aumard was getting frustrated with herself, and with what she perceived as  poor movement from her opponent, but held together in the end to save a couple of game balls before taking the fourth to move into the main draw.

"In the beginning I played well, but then I lost my length and was running too much - that's ok, I like running, but we've played a few times and she knows what to do to unsettle me and it was becoming difficult.

"I got some no lets I didn't understand, but in the end I came through, I just had to calm down and keep the ball tight.

"I'm very happy to qualify on my first visit to Qatar ... and thanks to Camille [Serme] for the coaching!"

"I thought I played well, and felt in control for most of the match, but I knew I had to be.

I did some research before, and I knew she'd come at me with pace and try to chop it in, so I wanted to try to be the one to step it up first.

"It's my first ever main draw in a World Series event, so I'm really excited about that, and I'd love to get to play on the glass court!"

"She's got real potential and great hands, you've got to keep it away from those.

"Beforehand I told myself not to lose focus, but sure enough at 9-4 in the third I started to get a bit edgy. But then I played a good point which settled me and helped me to finish it off.

"That's two for two in qualifying for the big events this season, I hope I can go further this time."

"I knew it was going to be tough, I told myself that I had to stick to my game plan and it worked.

"It's the first time I managed to make the main draw of a big event like this, so I'm really excited about that.

"I hope I get to play on the glass court."


"It's the same as last time I played Nouran last month in India, I was two-nil up and fin ally won three-two, it's always tough.

"I just can't believe that I qualified for such a big tournament as this for the first time. It would be such a thrill to play on the glass court ..."

Misaki bows out

Day One match reports

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