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





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TODAY at the Qatar Classic - Daily updates from Doha

02-Nov, Day FIVE, Round TWO, Top
Lee and Cuskelly keep the upsets rolling

We're down to one court from today onwards, as the last sixteen in the Men's and Women's events take to the glass stage.

The men's session, shortened by the withdrawal though injury of Adrian Waller to put Miguel Rodriguez through to the quarters, started with an all-Egyptian affair which saw top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy beat qualifier Mohamed Abouelghar in straight games.

Two upsets followed, as first Max Lee took out a tired looking fifth seed Simon Rosner in straight games, and finally Australian qualifier Ryan Cuskelly continued his run of great form to beat Chris Simpson, also in straight games - both reaching a World Series quarterfinal for the first time.

There were no upsets in the afternoon's women's matches as Joshana Chinappa followed up her win over the top seed with a three-nil victory over Yathreb Adel, and will face a third successive Egyptian opponent after Omneya Abdel Kawy beat Sarah-Jane Perry in straight games.

World Junior champion Nouran Gohar eased past qualifier Amina Yousry, while fourth seed Laura Massaro was pushed all the way in four games against fellow Englishwoman Fiona Moverley. 

Men's Round Two (top):

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar
                11/6, 11/8, 11/3 (38m)
Max Lee (Hkg) 3-0 [5] Simon Rosner (Ger)
                11/5, 11/8, 11/9 (38m)

[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 3-0 Chris Simpson (Eng)
                11/4, 11/6, 11/7 (47m)
[3] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) w/o Adrian Waller (Eng)

Women's Round Two (top):

Joshana Chinappa (Ind) 3-0 Yathreb Adel (Egy)
               16/14, 11/8, 11/8 (37m)
[5] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 3-0 [10] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)
                11/9, 11/7, 15/13 (38m)

[8] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Amina Yousry (Egy)
                 11/2, 11/5, 11/2 (23m)
[4] Laura Massaro 3-1 [Q] Fiona Moverley (Eng)
                 14/12, 11/9, 5/11, 119 (50m)

Hilton Doha,
say no more

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It’s the best I ever played in the second round ever. Like I told him at the end, it’s because I have a lot of respect for him, and I knew how dangerous he could be. I’m happy to get away in three, I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to do that again.

He is one of the new generation, which is coming up now, my brother’s generation, and I’m lucky because my brother has played those guys all his life, and I’m been watching him all my life. And it was funny today, normally, I’m the one giving my brother a game plan for his matches; but today, I’m the one who went to my brother and asked, so what’s the plan today??

I’m lucky that I was already here at that level when I was his age, so I know what he was feeling, how you want to go after the ones at the top, but now, I’m the one people are hunting! But I was able to weather the storm. And I’m so happy with the way I played today.

Last season, I won 4 tournaments in a row, but I peaked too early, whereas this season, I’m nowhere near as good as I was last year, but I’m improving each tournament. And as everybody knows, my aim is the World Title, I guess Greg and myself are the same, the only ones of the top guys that didn’t get the title yet. And I feel I’m in the right tracks here, going in the right direction, getting better and better.

Always happy to come here, I’ve reached the final the last three years I was here, I always play well here, thanks everybody for the support we are always getting from that amazing crowd.

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0
[Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy)    11/6, 11/8, 11/3 (38m)

Top seed safely through

A very nervous Mohamed, who noticed the people moving on the frontwall (one of the photographers), then somebody coming in the venue, chatting to the Egyptians players in the crowd just before he re-entered the court for the second game, asking the referee to “concentrate a bit on the match” …

No, Mohamed never took that match for granted, and gave young Birdsbrain all due respect.

Amazingly, Abou made less errors than Shorbagy, only 1 error per game, and played a very mature squash. He cannot have any regrets.

He found some good shots, wrongfooted and surprised Mohamed a few times. But today, Mohamed was playing at another level and never gave him a chance to really impose his mad and with flair game.

Like the World number said “I know how dangerous he can be now, but also in the future”. Today, Mohamed was just the Boss on court.

Max Lee (Hkg) 3-0 [5] Simon Rosner (Ger) v
                11/5, 11/8, 11/9 (38m)

Another seed falls

A strong performance from the HK boy, 27, WR15, a good win against Simon, same age, WR7, who had a pretty gruelling first round against Cops, and maybe didn’t recover that well from it.

Max dominated the German in the first two games, taking them rather quickly, 9 and 11 m.

The third is different, with Simon ahead and leading for most of the game – not huge gap, but ahead the whole time but a couple of unforced errors helped Max to draw level at  9-all….

A gigantic rally, that Max finishes with a lovely winner, and then at 10/9, a no let as Simon charges past Max towards the front right corner and asks for a let.

The referees award a 'no let', and after a suitable pause so does the video ref, and Max is through to his first World Series quarter-final. …

When you work with David Palmer, you just don’t stop working. Sometimes, we train, and we are tired, and we say, we want to stop. David says no, not before the end of the next exercise.. But we are grateful…

We all know how hard you must play to beat Steve Cops, I know, I train with him! And Simon did that two days ago, I think he was still feeling it in the legs, and that his movement was not today as good as he could be. On the other hand, I was fresh.

I tried to play my best, I’m happy with my performance, I think I played very well, well maybe not very well, but good average. In the 3rd, I just couldn’t control him, so I tried and stayed focused, he is such a strong player, and keep doing the best I could.

It’s the first time ever to beat him, we played 4 times, and I never won. Last time was here, and I lost [in 5, 11/7 in the 5th, in the qualifying]. So today, I’m reaching my first quarter-final of a World Series, and I beat him for the first time.

I really wanted to win that one. I didn’t think about the win, or what would happen if I would win. I just focused on my game, my length, on the simple things. And focus on what I had to do.

It’s all about confidence. I guess I didn’t believe I could win before, but now, I do believe I can beat the top players in the world. I had my doubts, I stayed at the WR40 for 9 years, and I thought what’s the point, am I ever going to make it? But I stuck to it, kept working hard, and it finally paid off.

So my coach Rodney Martin told me to change my approach, to just be more aggressive. “You may lose a few matches, but you will get some good wins as well”. So I changed my training, started to attack more, and for the past six months, I’ve had some great results.

I cannot believe it, this is I think the first time ever I get past the first round of a World Series and here I am in the quarters. And I have a chance to get to the semis as well, I’m playing Miguel, I think I can give him a good run for his money, even if I had a few matches in the legs already, but I have a rest day tomorrow, so, I will try and take my chances there.

[Q] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus) 3-0 Chris Simpson (Eng)
             11/4, 11/6, 11/7 (47m)

Who is going to stop Ryan???

It’s not like Chris did anything wrong, or played the wrong game, or went crazy or tinned the ball (7 errors the whole match). It just the belief that Ryan carries as a flag around his racquet at the moment that gives him that extra power.

The score doesn’t tell the story in the first two games, how hard they worked, 16m for a 11/4, and 13 for 11/6.

In the third, Chris managed to take the lead for the first time of the match, 3/0, but was caught out, 3/3. And against Ryan was ahead, so sharp at the front, and wining some pretty gruelling rallies.

Very few decisions, no discussions, or contacts, a clean and fast pace game, great way to finish the day, thanks guys.

It was very hard not to over think things, after the victory over Raneem, so I just tried and kept it as simple as I could, like I did with Raneem. Yathreb is a dangerous opponent, she just beat Dipika 3-0, which proves how strong she is at the moment.

I made it hard for myself when I allowed her to get away with the score, but I made sure I concentrated on getting the ball deep, because I could feel at times my height not being good enough. This court is very rewarding when you get your length right, it really cling to the walls…

This is my first quarter final of a World Series for a while [2 years, HK], I feeling good both mentally and physically… Like I already mentioned yesterday, you work hard, and you just try and execute the plan.

Joshana Chinappa (Ind) 3-0 Yathreb Adel (Egy)
               16/14, 11/8, 11/8 (37m)

Joshna Controls…

It was a good start for young 19 year old Yathreb, already 31 in the world despite being a full time student in Roehampton, in England against 29 years old Joshna, Indian number 2 and WR17.

She was leading 6/2 and truly looking strong and sharp out there.

But suddenly, change of momentum, the Indian strings 5 points in a row. 7/7, 8/8, 9/9, and all the way to 16/14, with Yathreb unable to transform the 5 game balls she had, while Joshna only needed one.

There were a lot of decisions in that game, 15, which prompted the central ref to ask the girls to make more effort to clear and play the ball. It worked, as we didn’t have many more calls after that…

Again a great start for Yathreb in the second, 6/3, and again, Joshna find her shots and power at the back, 7/7, 8/8, and a quick game this time, 7m, after a long 18m one…

Annnd the same for the 3rd, Yathreb is up 4/1, 5/2, and yes, you’ve guessed, 5 points in a row. From that point on, Joshna will always be in front, to take the third, 11/8…

[5] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy) 3-0
[10] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)      11/9, 11/7, 15/13 (38m)

Omneya edges through

Sarah Jane didn’t show she was nervous today, she probably was, but just started very strongly, leading 6/3 with very short rallies until Omneya got into the groove and turned the tables to take the game 11/9 in 9m.

The second is more dominated by the Egyptian from the start, rallies are very short, 3/0, 5/2, 6/3 – two review on decisions for SJP, one she wins, one she loses - a few discussions from SJ, nothing out of the ordinary.. 8/4, 9/6, and game Omneya 11m.

Maybe Omneya relaxes a bit in the 3rd, or just SJ relaxing with the back against the wall, 3/0, 5/1 for the 25 years old English lady, with the rallies getting longer and more constructed. SJ is really looking strong, dominant, she now has cut the discussions, and is truly focussed. It’s working for her, 9/5!

But that’s when Omny decides that a 3/0 would be muuuuch better than a 3/1 or worse, and find the accelerator to score 5 points, back to 9/9! SJ will have 1 game ball of her own, will save with a few loud COME ON three match balls to finally bow 15/13 in the longest game of the match, 16m, the winning point a mishit from the back of the court for a clean winner!

A high quality match, very few tins, and two attacking ladies for an intense and fast pace squash!

Yes, it was exciting in the end, wasn’t it… I like to keep things interesting…

The court is much better than the old one, it still has got a few weird bounces, but it’s more in tune with the other glasscourt we have in the rest of the world, whereas the other one was really different!

She played very well at the end, my length got a bit short, and she was able to do more or less what she wanted with the ball. If I managed to keep the rallies very short, 2, 3 rallies for the first two games was because I was hitting the ball very hard. So at the end of that third, I made sure I came back to that game, medium power, and then short but not trying to win quickly, just making her hard, trying to make her go to the back and deceive her while I played to the front.

She is a player I find very difficult to read, I can’t see her hands, I think it’s because she’s got a low swing, I cannot predict her shots that well, she can use her wrist very well. I had to make sure she didn’t have the time to use that wrist, making the court very big to prevent her to lob or flick, to allow her only to return the shot.

I am so happy to get away in 3, I really didn’t want to lose that third, when you do that, your opponent gets his confidence up while yours is getting down.

Amina is so talented, so nice, she is like my little sister, and she is always supporting me for the big tournaments. So today was a big dilemma for me: being nice or getting to my first ever quarter final of a world series. Sorry, but the quarters was more important today…

Amina didn’t play her game today, but she had an amazing match against Emily, congratulations to her for that. We are both playing in the same club, Wadi Degla, the “community of champions”!

If I was to play Laura, it would the 5th times and she beat me the 4 times before, including our last match, the final in Macau, 3/0. I hope I would play better and turn that tide. And I hope her and Fiona will have a 150m match, and also that we’ll have a great match with or Fiona, or Laura in the Quarters…

[8] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Amina Yousry (Egy)
                 11/2, 11/5, 11/2 (23m)

Gohar asserts her authority

Tite pupuce…. Poor mite… For you who just discovered Amina on SquashTV and think mmm, I wonder what the fuss is all about, she is 15 and 140 in the world.

She played amazing squash to beat Emily Whitlock with a fighting spirit I rarely saw.

Today, on the glass, she was a bit lost poor thing, and in the 5m first game, she didn’t have much to say about what was going on there.

But in the second, she started to get used to the conditions, and got a few nice rallies/shots against one of her best friend Nouran, very very very much older, 18, and already 9 in the world. Frightening…

So the “older lady” got much stricter in the third, she know how those babies can be dangerous, and it was again a short affair, 7 m, 11/2 for Nouran…

[4] Laura Massaro 3-1 [Q] Fiona Moverley (Eng)
                 14/12, 11/9, 5/11, 119 (50m)

A star is born

Whooooooooooh….. Am I allowed to say “a Star is born”??? Of course I am. It’s my article I can do what I want really. More seriously, we saw some pretty serious new comer on there today. Just in case you haven’t read my previous article on Fiona, she is 28, stopped the circuit a few years back, had a life cause she didn’t have the money to go on the tour full blast, got divorced, decided to face her unfinished business, and is now back at 48 in the world in a year back on the Tour!

And she was asking some tips on playing on the glass court bless her. Well, she obviously had a speedglasscourt lesson from someone I tell you! The minute she got on there, the rallies were long, disputed and Laura was on the backfoot! Didn’t know what to expect I guess, was a bit late on the ball, got wrong footed a few times, even served out at 8/6, and the 12m game couldn’t have been closer! Laura needed 4 game balls to finally clinch that game, 14/12!

The second is the turning point. Fiona, having completely unsettled Birthday Lady from the start, 3/1, 6/4, goes 8/4, and even 9/6! And the brain – blond, like me – start chatting to her…

She stops her volleying that has been so great up to now, loses a bit of her power in her length/width, and makes her first errors of the match in no time. Laura is in there in a shot, and will take the game 11/9 scoring 5 points.

You would think that would be it, but it’s not. Again the underdog is at Laura’s throat again, dominating completely the world number 3, 5/1, 7/4, 11/5, not one unforced errors, like in the first game.

The fourth will be again close, nothing between them, some ridiculous rallies at the end, lovely, disputed, and it’s the longest game of the match, 14m. At 9/9, Danny Massaro is a nervous, bless him, but it’s a great length for Laura with a funny bounce, and a backhand lob that goes out of court for Fiona… 11/9 Laura….

Remember the name. That’s Fiona Moverly.

Well, I couldn’t be that mean on her birthday, now, could I…. ONLY KIDDING!!!!

Shame I don’t take that 2nd, up 8/4…. Suddenly, I found myself thinking Oh my God, I’m about to take a game from Laura Massaro!

And I became a bit defensive, stopping doing what I did to get to that point…

That kind of match helps you set up the benchmark and allows you to know where you are, what level you are playing at. Today shows that, on my day, I can compete with anyone.

It was my first time in a World Series event, and the first time playing a top 4. So I can’t be too disheartened, it will be a case of building up for the next time I get the opportunity again…

And you know what? Despite the lack of experience, I felt quite at home on the glasscourt today, what did Nick Matthew say? “It’s the same dimension as the other courts….”

He was right.

“I thought Fiona played really well. The glass court and the lower tin really suited her game and she used height and attacked and mixed it up to make it really tough.

“I didn’t play 100 per cent at my best and when you do that against someone as dangerous as her you can get hurt but I felt like I worked her game out as the match went on. Every game was tight so I’m pleased to get off in four games.

“My first round match was quick and then I had a rest day yesterday so I feel like I’ll be better for the remainder of the tournament after having a tough test today.

“It was tough to regroup after winning the U.S. Open and deal with the emotions and the jet lag and then getting back into training ahead of Qatar was hard but I’m happy to win today and I’ll enjoy my birthday now.”

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