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





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TODAY at the Qatar Classic - Daily updates from Doha

05-Nov, Day EIGHT, Semi-Finals

[4] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [5] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
                         11/7, 11/4, 11/6 (25m)
[6] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-2 [2] Nicol David (Mas)
                         11/6, 10/12, 5/11, 11/4, 11/9 (60m)

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
                         11/7, 11/4, 11/9 (39m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-1 Mazen Hesham (Egy)
                         4/11, 12/10, 11/9, 14/12 (59m)

Finalists decided in Doha

A packed crowd on semi-finals day at the Khalifa Tennis & Squash Complex in Doha saw four contrasting matches and one tremendous upset.

Laura Massaro eased past Omneya Abdel Kawy in three quick games to reach a first women's final, where she will meet another first-time finalist Nour El Sherbini, who overcame defending champion Nicol David in a five game thriller. The match will be a repeat of their World final from early last year.

Defending men's champion Mohamed Elshorbagy wasted no time in ending the run of Australian qualifier Ryan Cuskelly, but Gregory Gaultier, the second-seeded 2011 champion here, once again barely survived a ferocious challenge from a young Egyptian, this time Mazen Hesham almost pulled off another stunning upset.

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[4] Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [5] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
                             11/7, 11/4, 11/6 (25m)

Massaro marches into final

A quick affair, 7m, 6m, 7m, with Laura Clinical, and Onny not on there mentally really. Or physically. She was struggling with her movement on there today Ė very cold, and the court looked very big Ė seemed to arrive a bit late on the ball, and made a lot of errors.

I counted 10 unforced errors. Laura always looked the winner on that one, and thatís the best she played all week, keeping the best for last, as often the top playersÖ

So nice to have a few English in the crowd, not just the Egyptians making a racquet for once!
Thanks for thatÖ!!!

Really happy with the way I played today, I donít think that Omneya was at her best today, but I played the court very well, it was very cold out there. Iíll take it, after all the hard battles we had all those yearsÖ

I started the season incredibly well, two wins out of three events, nice to see that the hard work is paying off. I have been WR2 for a while, then I had a bit of a drop of form around Christmas, but the points are getting closer and closer, but keep wining the titles, and the ranking will comeÖ

Every final day is a big day, not just the World Series. We all want to win major titles, and I never won the Qatar Classic, so it would be really nice to win that one!

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There is a lot of positive to take from this week. Nicol has had a pretty bad year, at several levels but she is now enjoying her squash again, she is having a good time out there, she is injury free.

Now, sheís got to stop putting expectations on herself, and actually, it would be good if for a little white, she would become the underdog.

Weíve been working on a few things, the change of tin needs some adjusting but I saw she did things today I like.

She just needs to do it more consistently, stay positive with her game, and trust herselfÖ

[6] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-2 [2] Nicol David (Mas)
                      11/6, 10/12, 5/11, 11/4, 11/9 (60m)

The Battle of the Crowds

One of the great many things about this tournament is the vocal support the players get here. Far from the polite English crowd, or the vociferous French partial support, here, all nationalities get loud and clear love! Today was no different for Nour and Nicol. OK, three quarters of the venue was slightly Egyptian, I give you that. But still, Nicol had her normal faithful followers present and lovingÖ

First game between those two superb fair players, they had played 5 times, with Nour taking the famous semi in KL on Nicolís turf, taking away from her a home sacrament. And itís with that image in mind that 20 years old Nour went on court.

Nothing to lose, fit as a fiddle, sharp and free flowing movement, she put Nicol under pressure from the word go, even forcing errors out of the Malaysian racquet. Still, pretty close up to 6/7 Nic serving, but the court is pretty dead, very cold, the ball is dying beautifully, and Nicol is mistiming her shots slightly. She gets to the ball, but just not in the right rhythm. Nour take that opener in 7m.

Second is a typical Nicolís game. From 3/0 down, she closes the gap 3/3, and even if young Nour finds sublime, no other words, volley drop shots from everywhere, Nic is still in contact, 5/6, 6/7, 8/9. A bit of nerves, two tins for the Egyptian, 10/9 for Nic. A big battle for the next few rallies, but itís Queen Nicol that clinches that one, 12/10, 14m, and with the momentum, the 3rd 9/2, 11/5 in no time Ė 7m, helped by a few Christmassy unforced errors from NourÖ

But in the 4th, complete change of energy. Nicolawy that had made her appearance in the 3rd went back in her little box, and out of the little bit negative Duracell Bunny, that just didnít trust herself enough, returning the ball or chasing it beautifully more than taking the game to Nour. And she paid the price, 11/4, 8m. Back to the drawing board we were.

The 5th is a superb battle, with the crowd playing its role as so often in Qatar. Close, o so close, 3/3, 5/5, 7/7. An astonishing rally that showed both resilience and determination from both ladies, but itís the ďcoup de patteĒ, little skill from Nour that takes the point, crosscourt volley nick, and the crowd goes WILLLLLD!!!!

And thatís the crowd that will carry the young girl to match ball, 10/8, first one sheíll tin, second one she gets. And some idiots still think there is no atmosphere in DohaÖ. Not a clue.

Nour El Sherbini came through a terrific five-setter to dethrone defending champion Nicol David, just as she had in their World Open semi-final early last year in Malaysia.

David had beaten the young Egyptian before, and after, that match, and when the Malaysia recovered from losing the first game to take the lead - saving a game ball in a tight second before taking the third comfortably - it looked as though she would do so again.

But Sherbini struck back, staying ahead and taking the last two games to claim a memorable win, and a place in the final against Laura Massaro - who beat her in the World Open final in Malaysia ...

I canít believe I have beaten Nicol, the Legend, again, I never thought I would do it again in my lifetime, this is a dream come true!!

I canít believe that I won that match! Nicol is one of the best players ever, sheís a legend and there will never be someone like her again.

Iíve grown up looking up to Nicol, she is like a role model for me, I learned so much from her on and off the court, and I only hope Iíll be like her one dayÖ

I was telling myself to keep pushing and keep attacking until the end and to just give everything today.

At the end I was really tired but the support was amazing and gave me confidence and I really wanted to win in front of them.

I feel like Iím playing in Egypt not Qatar and that support is everything and I think thatís the reason I won today.

Iím really pleased to be in final but thereís one more match so Iím not finished yet. I want to play well tomorrow and win.

Itís Amazing to be in the final - Iím really happy and hopefully it will be a good match against Laura.

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
                            11/7, 11/4, 11/9 (39m)

One match too far

It had to happen at some point, Ryan has been stringing the matches since Halifax Ė where he won the tournament as well. He may be fit and willing, but he ainít Superman! And as he said, the pace that Mohamed imposed was just too high tonight.

All credit to him, the Australian was still throwing everything he had on there, playing some truly attacking and nicely going in volley nick that took Mohamed by surprise again and again.

But he just couldnít compete today against Mohamed fresher body, power and speed. In the second, he had a good start actually, leading 4/2 after losing the first 11/7. But from that point, he could only count the points that Mohamed scored. Thatís 9, to take the second 11/4.

The third is shows how hard Ryan pushed tonight, from 7/4, 9/6, 10/7 match ball down, he clawed back to save two match balls, the crowd chanting Shorbagyís name to carry him to the finishing postÖ

Ryan had a great week, he made a great effort to come from qualifying, and he beat all those seeds. Iím only happy I didnít become his latest victim!!! We played really fast, it was a high quality match, and Iím sure heíll be back playing ever better next time.

Itís great for Australian squash to have him playing so well. You have to give each player respect and I knew I canít drop concentration against him. I started each game well and gave him respect he deserved - he showed great potential out there.

With likes of Nick and Ramy not playing you can be bit too relaxed. Itís been a strange tournament because the quarters were not like normal - the next generation stepped it up which was interesting for the squash world and itís very exciting to see those guys showing great potential.

Itís the fourth year in a row that Iíve made it to the final here on my favourite court. I always feel comfortable in Qatar. The support here is great, it gives me confidence on the court, it keeps me pushing for every point. Also, itís so important for me to have the support of my Mother and Father, when I see them in their seats, itís a great comfort. And my Mum is not just my mum, she is my coach too and she helps me between the games.

Itís great for me to get to final without dropping a game. I will be fresh for tomorrow. Itís great confidence before the worldís. I canít wait to play the final tomorrow in front of the crowd here

Against him, with the pace he plays at, I needed to be fresh to be able to compete, and after 6 matches, today was a step too farÖ

I had a few good patches, I tried to make it as hard as possible for him, but he was just too good.

[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-1 Mazen Hesham (Egy)
                      4/11, 12/10, 11/9, 14/12 (59m)

Itís a Mad Mad Squash Ö

If any of you are worried about a few of our stars retiring, I can tell you I am pretty confident squash future is in good hands.

Amazing Mazen. He is un-classifiable. One of a kind. Ramy like really. And thatís we wish for him. To develop a game as imaginative and flamboyant as the Artist. For that, he needs to work a bit more on the body Ė heís had some shoulder problem again this week, and finished this game with a quad trouble Ė and sort out his brain. But Omar Abdel Aziz is taking care of that, Elhamdulillah, and I have no doubt Mazen is about to grow into a likeable champion that is going to whoosh the audiences everywhere.

Greg is not that fresh, mentally I mean. Heís been doing China, Manchester, San Fran and US Open. In 8 weeks. So sometimes, his mind goes and wanders a bit. And again tonight, like against Fares Dessouki in the second round, 10/1 match ball to take the match 11/9, Greg was in the shower just a bit too early bless him.

But rewindÖ

First game, Greg couldnít see the ball! Mazen was up with his Diamond Wrist and rolled nicks all around the court! I wrote in my notes ďWith Discipline, that boy will be unstoppable.Ē Oh yesÖ

Second is a better start for Greg, 5/3 8/4. Greg is making the boy work overtime, long rallies, gruelling rallies, but somehow, the Egyptian always gets the last say! Still, Greg gets to game point, 10/8. Echanges de folie, Mad Rallies, and the Frenchman finally closes it on his 3rd match ball, 12/10, 17m.

Experience talks in the third to be honest, with a superb start, typical Amazing Mazen, 4/0 5/1 in a flash, crowd loves it, 8/3, crowds exults! But a bit of loss of focus, short rallies, Greg all over the young man, 7 points in a row!!! Again the Frenchman clinches it, 11/9 on the second attemptÖ

The fourth.. How could I describe the 4th. Maybe the best solution is for you to watch the replay Ė come on itís 2am, and Iím still writing ! Oh all right then. Excellent start for Greg, while Mazen looks tired Ė maybe his quad is troubling him a bit too. 5/1, 9/2, match over.

Or is it. Trust Greg for giving the ďFrench CornerĒ nearly as vocal at the whole Egyptian Camp, a heart attack. Mazen is suddenly removing all kind of pressure, all thoughts process, just automatic racquet set on ďnickĒ. He goes back to 10/6. Surely, surely now match over. Ha ha ha. 7/10. 8/10. 9/10. Annnnnd of COURSE 10/10.

The crowd is chanting MAZEN, MAZEN, the kids are jumping out of their seats, Ali Farag Ė coaching his mate Ė is close to apoplexy. Meanwhile, Iím trying to take notes while not losing a glimpse of whatís happening. Not an easy taskÖ

Mazen gets his own game ball. A ridiculous rally, with Greg that finds a winner nick roll this time! But it will take Greg another 2 match balls to master Amazing Mazen at last. The Frenchman just goes Footballistic on us, jumping all over the place, and giving the crowd a good salute. Charmed despite the loss of their champion, the audience claps ďŗ tout rompreĒ, a gigantesque thank you for all the work, sweat and emotions produce tonightÖ

Tomorrow's final will thus be between not only the top two seeds, but the last two winners of the Qatar classic.

MC: My, these youngsters are coming from everywhere !

No, they're coming from Egypt !!!

Itís remarkable that there would be so many unique talents, so many different styles, they keep surprising you. Yesterday, against Karim, I didnít see much for the first two games, he was just playing unbelievable shots. And somehow, I was not prepared for that, I thought something would come, but I was not fully aware of what was going to hit me. So today, I was fully on my guard.

Iím one of the oldest on the tour now, and itís good for me to have to adapt to those different style of play. Iím not playing the same way I was 10, even 5 years ago. And itís good for the audience all over the world, they see a new squash coming up, not just an up and down the wall squashÖ Exciting times for squash

And if I win, Iím happy, if I donít, they deserve it because they work as hard as I do, and I keep smiling..

Mazen has been flying all week and I really had to give my best today to get through. In the first game, he was on fire and controlling things so I had to pinch myself and get out of his rhythm. I couldnít see his shots at all and I really had to push myself very hard to stop those short rallies he likes so much, and make him work, work, work, to lengthen the rallies and up the pace.

Even one game down, I never doubted I would win. I felt like I played the big points really well and that my shots came in at the right time. Well, until 9/2 in the 4th, where I relaxed, I saw myself in the shower. I didnít think about tomorrow, about Mohamed, nothing. Thatís the problem, I just didnít think! Itís the second time Iíve done that this week, he came back and thatís something I cannot afford to do tomorrow against Mohamed because if I give him a chance then he will take it.

Thing is, whether itís Mohamed or myself, we get less recovery time than most of the other players, who play one or two matches. We play normally 4 or 5 matches, and have very little time to rest and recover. Not complaining, but sometimes, itís difficult to still be fresh and win all your matches 3/0.

Mohamed is a very tough opponent but thereís a lot of respect between us as well. He sent me a nice text after my win in the US, I really appreciated it, and I respect him as well. Iím really happy to have had the opportunity to train well this summer after a year riddle by injury where I just couldnít train properly between events. I was number one, then Mohamed overtook me, I want to prove to him that I'm still fresh, not too old, and that I want to get my number one spot again!

Iím really happy to be back in the final of a major tournament and hopefully we can put on a good show tomorrow.

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