TODAY at the Qatar Classic -
Daily updates from Doha
05-Nov, Day EIGHT, Semi-Finals
 Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0  Omneya Abdel Kawy
11/7, 11/4, 11/6 (25m)
 Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-2  Nicol David (Mas)
11/6, 10/12, 5/11, 11/4, 11/9 (60m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Ryan Cuskelly
11/7, 11/4, 11/9 (39m)
Gaultier (Fra) 3-1 Mazen Hesham (Egy)
4/11, 12/10, 11/9, 14/12 (59m)
Finalists decided in Doha
packed crowd on semi-finals day at the Khalifa Tennis & Squash
Complex in Doha saw four contrasting matches and one tremendous
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
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
Massaro (Eng) 3-0  Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
11/7, 11/4, 11/6
Massaro marches into final
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
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
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!
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
 Nour El
Sherbini (Egy) 3-2  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
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
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
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
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.
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.
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy)
3-0 [Q] Ryan Cuskelly
11/7, 11/4, 11/9 (39m)
One match too far
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Tomorrow's final will thus be between not only the top two
seeds, but the last two winners of the Qatar classic.
these youngsters are coming from everywhere !
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
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
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
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.
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.