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TODAY at the World Open Squash 2011                                                       facebooktwitter
Day FIVE, Tue 1st, Round of 32                                                                                  
Fram and Steve in Rotterdam
Back to full speed at Victoria

And you thought tournaments like this got quieter as they went on .... think again.

Today we were back to 32 matches over four courts as the men's and women's events both reached the round of 32 stage. It turned out to be a pretty good day for the hosts, and for a few young Egyptians t  ..

'Old guard' through as Kanzy KO's Kawy ...

The first two matches completed saw qualifiers Lauren Selby and Tesni Evans turn in creditable performances against Rachael Grinham and Samantha Teran, both having had a good tournament and doing themselves credit in today's openers.

"That was hard, she's a good player and very physical," said Tesni. "But I've enjoyed my week, it's been great to see the the top players together and to watch them play."

Selby was also satisfied: "I thought I did alright, considering the matches I've had so far this week. Rachael's not the easiest to play when you have heavy legs, she holds the ball so well and you have to stop and start and turn so often. But I'm pleased with my tournament, I thought I did credit to myself and I got my laundry done!!"

Teran was happy too: "I'm happy to get started, and to have a tough game to get me ready for the next round, Tesni played well. It's normally hard to adjust after the travel from Mexico, but I've been here a couple of days already and I feel quite comfortable, I'm in good rhythm and playing well.

Veteran performers and former world champions David Palmer and Thierry Lincou, who both survived by their skin in their teeth in the first round, won the opening men's matches of the day with less drama, although both dropped the second game, against Ryan Cuskelly and Stewart Boswell, before clinching 3/1 wins to set up a meeting in the next round.

There was a huge upset in the second batch of women's matches as teenage Egyptian qualifier Kanzy El Dafrawy ousted eighth-seeded compatriot Omneya Abdel Kawy in three delicately poised games, 12/10, 11/9, 12/10.

"I can't believe it," said a delighted Kanzy, "I've never even taken a game off her before. But I was playing well, even if she isn't at her best at the moment, but when I was 10/6 down in the third I told myself I mustn't let an opportunity like this slip."

Kanzy thought she'd won it when Kawy left a ball that the refs called in. Cue two disbelieving faces and a let was decided on, but it didn't delay the victory for long.

"I never felt nervous the whole match, which is why I could play well," added Kanzy, "and I think I won today because I always believed I could win."

Another upset followed when Dipika Pallikal, who has just moved into the world's top twenty, took out 14th-seeded Kiwi Jaclyn Hawkes in four games.

"I started well then made too many errors in the second," said the Indian number one. "In the third and fourth I was trying to be more steady and I thought I did that well. I played Jackie in Malaysia in July so I knew what to expect, you have to be prepared to run and run like she does.

"Really happy to get through, it should be a good game against Kanzy ..."

The first upset in the men's event came when Borja Golan came from a game down to oust 14th seed Omar Mosaad in an unsurprisingly long 76 minutes, he now meets another Egyptian after third seed Karim Darwish beat Wael El Hindi in straight games.

"It was three-nil, but a hard three-nil," admitted Darwish, while Golan, who endured an extended injury layoff last yer, was doubly pleased: "We were pretty close squash wise today, but I had that 30% plus confidence in my game. Itís so good to be back."

The last four men's matches all saw the seeded players progress too, as defending champion Nick Matthew gained a measure of revenge on Tarek Momen for his shock defeat in Qatar, and he now meets another Egyptian in Mohamed El Shorbagy, who won a close three-game tussle with Simon Rosner 12/10, 11/7, 12/10.

Further English success followed as seventh seed Peter Barker came from a game down to beat South African Steve Coppinger, but Chris Ryder found Cameron Pilley too hot to handle as the Aussie went through in straight games to meet Barker in the next round.

There were no further upsets in the afternoon session women's matches, but none of Jenny Duncalf, Annie Au, Laura Massaro and Joelle King had particularly easy times of it even if they never looked in serious danger.

King found Swiss qualifier Gaby Huber a bit of a handful: "I'd never really seen her play, so it came as a bit of a surprise to find she hits the ball as hard as I do, which I'm not really used to," admitted the Kiwi commonwealth gold medallist, who won 11/7, 11/6, 11/6. "It's good to get started though and I'm very happy to win that one three-nil."

King now meets second seed Duncalf, who had just as tough a time of it against Line Hansen, coming through 11/9, 12/10, 11/7 in just over half an hour.

Meanwhile Duncalf's English team-mate Massaro managed to quell the lively young Egyptian Yathreb Adel 11/9, 11/7, 11/6 and she'll meet Annie Au, who won her all-Hong Kong match with Joey Chan in four games. "We play each other so often, it feels strange to come all the way over here just to play each other again," chuckled Au.
Night of the Young Egyptians ...

The evening session began with a welcome easy match for James Willstrop, who tends not to like playing on traditional courts, which are exactly the environment where Shahier Razik thrives. Fortunately for the fourth seed the Canadian was struggling with injury and retired shortly into the second game.

The ladies got their first outing on Victoria's showcourt as locals Orla Noom and Natalie Grinham started their campaigns. Noom, who won the qualifying competition for the wilcard spot, performed well enough but Australia's Kasey Brown was a tough opponent, and the sixth seed came through in straight games despite Noom's best efforts and a noisy partisan crowd.

"It's never easy playing the crowd's home favourite," admitted Brown, "and they were definitely against me and pretty loud too, but I thought I coped with it well and played pretty well too."

The following match, featuring four-time finalist Grinham against her qualifier training partner Aisling Blake, was one the crowd had altogether different expectations of, and they weren't disappointed as the former Aussie who has just returned to the world's top ten came through in straight games in front of her watching husband and son.

Meanwhile on court 9 where Daryl Selby and Marwan El Shorbagy had been moved to, great drama was unfolding. The world junior champion took the first two, the British champion took the next two and established a 9/6 lead in the decider.

Full story to follow, but the last few points were tense, hotly contested and disputed, both had match balls - Daryl was quite convinced he'd won it 11/10 - but it was Marwan who finally won 13/11 after 94 minutes.

Two more Egyptians followed Shorbagy into the third round as four-time champion Amr Shabana came from a game down to beat young compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad in a high quality match that was thoroughly enjoyed by a big crowd on court nine, while Hisham Ashour's shotmaking was too much for Martin Knight for two games but the Kiwi made it tough for Ashour in the third, only just missing out 16/14.

Two contrasting women's matches followed. France's seventh seed Camille Serme, having lost to one young Egyptian (Raneem) in Qatar was in no mood to lose to another today as she took a close first game against Nour El Tayeb, doubled her lead with more ease in the second and gratefully accepted the world junior champion's retirement with an ankle injury at 2/1 in the third.

Fourth seed Madeline Perry went two games up as well, but her opponent, Emma Beddoes, far from conceding stormed back to take the next two games. It was fairly comfortable for the Northern Irishwoman in the decider, who after an tough hour long match will be grateful for a day's rest before she takes on Natalie Grinham at the Luxor Theatre on Thursday.

More success for France as Gregory Gaultier ended the run of Mexican qualifier Cesar Salazar in straight games, while his prospective Luxor opponent Laurens Jan Anjema was having a little more trouble with India's Saurav Ghosal on the showcourt before eventually prevailing in four games after 65 minutes.

Meanwhile the ladies had resumed [if you're getting a little confused by now, imagine what it's like trying to follow 32 matches on four courts 'live', we actually lost the plot a while ago!] with Malaysian favourites on two courts.

Low Wee Wern had to work hard to secure a three-nil win over US veteran Latasha Khan, while five-time and defending champion Nicol David started off her defence on an outside court against compatriot Delia Arnold [and wad missed in its entirety by yours truly].

"Delia was struggling with the bounce on the court," said Nicol after her 11/3, 11/5, 11/6 win, "but I was too to start with, it took a little time to get comfortable on there. I had to remind myself it was the first round of the World Open and not let her get into it, she can be very dangerous if she does."

After Alister Walker put a bit of a dampener on Malaysian celebrations by coming from a game down to beat Azlan Iskandar, we were left with two matches at opposite ends of the Victoria club, both featuring young Egyptians and both going the full distance.

We probably forget that Ramy Ashour is only 24 - two years older than his Swiss opponent Nicolas Mueller, but still 'young' surely.

Anyway, it was Mueller who got the better of the first two games, both close, but the Egyptian magic proved too strong for the next three, to Mueller's obvious frustration and the Egyptian camp's obvious relief.

That left Donna Urquhart and Nour El Sherbini, who were by now into their fifth game too, Sherbini having taken the lead 2/1 after saving game balls in what proved to be a crucial third game. The fifth was a relative canter, the young Egyptian finally able to celebrate her 16th birthday with an 11/2 decider.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was day five at the World Open ...

Richard Eaton on Day Five

Men's Round TWO

[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)
                 11/6, 11/13, 11/5, 11/5 (70m)
[10] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt Stewart Boswell (Aus)
                 11/5, 8/11, 11/7, 11/7 (66m)
Borja Golan (Esp) bt [14] Omar Mosaad (Egy)
                  6/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (76m)
[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Wael El Hindi (Egy)
                 11/9, 11/3, 11/4 (52m)
[1] Nick Matthew (Eng) bt Tarek Momen (Egy)
                  11/4, 11/9, 11/4 (47m)
[9] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Simon Rosner (Ger)
                   12/10, 11/7, 12/10 (49m)
[16] Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Chris Ryder (Eng)
                  11/9, 11/3, 11/5 (46m)
[7] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Steve Coppinger (Rsa)
                   9/11, 11/5, 11/4, 11/8 (57m)

[4] James Willstrop (Eng) bt Shahier Razik (Can)
                   11/1, 4/1 (13m)
[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [11] Daryl Selby (Eng)
                  11/8, 11/7, 4/11, 4/11, 14/12 (92m)
[15] Hisham Ashour (Egy) bt Martin Knight (Nzl)
                   11/3, 11/8, 16/14 (38m)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
                    5/11, 11/8, 11/5, 11/9 (50m)
[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [Q] Cesar Salazar (Mex)
                  11/3, 11/9, 11/5 (49m)
[12] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
                   11/4, 9/11, 11/6, 11/5 (65m)
Alister Walker (Bot) bt [13] Azlan Iskandar  (Mas)
                  10/12, 11/8, 11/7, 11/5 (68m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt  Nicolas Muller (Sui)
                   8/11, 9/11, 11/3, 11/8, 11/5 (60m)

Women's Round ONE

[3] Rachael Grinham
(Aus) bt [Q] Lauren Selby (Eng)
 11/7, 11/4, 11/5 (24m)
[15] Samantha Teran (Mex) bt [Q] Tesni Evans (Wal)
               11/5, 11/3, 11/7 (24m)
Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt [14] Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
               11/8, 9/11, 11/8, 11/7 (52m)
[Q] Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) bt [8] Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
                12/10, 11/9, 12/10 (35m)
[5] Laura Massaro (Eng) bt [Q] Yathreb Adel (Egy)
                11/9, 11/7, 11/6 (41m)
[9] Annie Au (Hkg) bt Joey Chan (Hkg)
                 13/11, 11/6, 7/11, 11/6 (46m)
[10] Joelle King (Nzl) bt [Q] Gaby Huber (Sui)
                 11/7, 11/6, 11/6 (35m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) bt Line Hansen (Den)
                 11/9, 12/10, 11/7 (32m)

[11] Raneem El Weleily
(Egy) bt Sarah Kippax (Eng)
               11/9, 11/9, 11/5 (30m)
[6] Kasey Brown (Aus) bt Orla Noom (Ned)
              11/6, 11/5, 11/4 (32m)
[12] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [Q] Aisling Blake (Irl)
               11/5, 11/3, 11/9 (37m)
[4] Madeline Perry (Irl) bt Emma Beddoes (Eng)
              11/8, 11/4, 7/11, 7/11, 11/3 (58m)
[7] Camille Serme (Fra) bt Nour El Tayeb (Egy)
                12/10, 11/7, 2/1 rtd (28m)
[16] Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt [Q] Latasha Khan (Usa)
               11/6, 11/9, 11/8 (42m)
[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt Delia Arnold (Mas)
               11/3, 11/6, 11/5 (29m)
[Q] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt [13] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
                10/12, 11/8, 13/11, 9/11, 11/2 (61m)

That's my mum ...

Great Survivor to go on ...
Richard Eaton

Mum gets the iPad, naturally ...

Dipika Pallikal v
Jaclyn Hawkes

Malcolm reports

This promised to be a tough encounter and thatís how it turned out to be, giving the lie to the suggestion that the womenís game is less hard and less competitive than the menís. On a warm, bouncy court points had to be earned and errors counted double.

Pallikal, who has recently made her way into the top twenty for the first time began positively and led throughout the first game, using the backhand short angle to effect. At 10-7 she won the game on a stroke. She had control in the second, too, leading 9-6,but as Hawkes persisted, Pallikal became a little restless and it was Hawkesí persistence and accuracy that brought her deservedly level. Pallikal, as she had in the first two, had early marginal control in the third and although a few unforced errors kept Hawkes well in contention, Pallikal, staying more composed this time, took a2-1 lead,11-8.

The pattern of the first three games remained the same as Pallikal, mixing defence and attack adroitly, led 6-3 and 8-4. To get to match ball she hit a backhand volley nick off the serve and closed out the match 11-7. There was never much in a well-contested match and although the New Zealander did not yield for a moment, Pallikal probably deserved the narrow win. 11-7 9-11 11-8 11-7,

Simon Rosner v
Mohammed El Shorbagy

Malcolm reports

Here was an interesting match between former World Junior champion, Mohammed El Shorbagy and improving German no.1,Simon Rosner. There was little in the early exchanges to four all, five all, but Shorbagy led 7-5,before Rosner was awarded a soft stroke on the backhand, as often happens, to take him to 6-7 and back to parity at 7 all.

A lovely forehand drop by Shorbagy from mid court levelled the scores again at 8 all. A weak angle into the tin from Rosner gave Shorbagy a game ball at 10-8;then 9-10,A prolonged cat and mouse rally with extreme shifts of pace was won by Rosner and a tiebreak it was,11-10,a third game ball to the Egyptian and with a backhand cross court volley, played with certainty into the nick he took the first 12 -10 . Rosner, attacking more, quickly went 3-0 up in the second, but in truth it was Shorbagy who looked to have the extra shot so far and he attacked his way into a 4-3 lead.

A tin restored parity at 4-4,another gave Rosner a 5-4 lead, which Shorbagy nullified with a clever straight backhand. A hard rally at 7-6 to Shorbagy, which Rosner dominated, ended at 8-6,though two of the Egyptianís pick ups were questionable. Rosner did question them, but was turned down by the officials.

Shorbagy went to 9-7 with a winner, then 10-7 with another. A weak drop into the tin on the forehand by Rosner handed Shorbagy a 2-0 lead. 2-0 seemed a long way back for Rosner, especially in such a physical encounter and now a win for him was remote. Undaunted apparently, Rosner led 2-0,4-2,5-3,but not for long as Shorbagy drew level at 6 all and 7 all.

A bad error, though, gave Rosner an 8-7 lead, which he converted to 9-7.Two sharp backhand winners by Shorbagy and it was nine all; an error by Rosner 10-9 match ball; perhaps a fortunate let kept him alive and then came the tiebreak. A delicate backhand drop gave Shorbagy a second match ball and that was enough for a hard fought 3-0 passage into the last sixteen.

[8] David Palmer (Aus) bt Ryan Cuskelly (Aus)    11/6, 11/13, 11/5, 11/5 (70m)


Still playing on the central court while Thierry and Bozza were battling on the slightly colder court at the back, David was not put under as much pressure than he was against Alan Clyne.

Several reasons in my humble opinion. One. First round was on Sunday, and from the first match on (David/Alan), the central court seats were absolutely jam packed, making this warm court even bouncier. Today, Davidís shots were getting much better at the front, and that put much more pressure on his opponent.

Two. Alan doesnít have the same history with Dave. For Ryan, David is the hero, the team mate, the sparring partner. Not the same way to handle the match from a mental point of view. Three. Ryan had a little drop of energy in the 4th, which Alan didnít have in the slightest.

David had a few moments where he showed a bit of fatigue, and so did Ryan, especially in the 4th. To be noted that Davidís strings completely fell off his racquet on game ball 12/11 in the 2nd, and that he kept playing and playing until the racquet bits started to fall off on court! Game to Ryan, of courseÖ

It was a nice match to see, although there were a few discussions with the ref, in particular from the young Aussie, who felt that one of the side ref was having some personal vendetta against him. As I didnít see what the decisions were, I cannot comment, but true or false, it did seem to affect a bit his concentration at times.

Itís so difficult to play somebody youíve been looking up to for yearsÖ. We played in the US Open and I think I gave him too much respect there, whereas today, I definitely thought I could win.

I was happy to get the second one, I needed a good start in the 3rd, but he stringed a few points and maybe I just worked a bit too fast there, too many errors.

My game plan was to take him to the front as much as possible, and to a certain extend, thatís what I did to start with, but after that, he took away my angles, crosscourted a lot, and I just couldnít play short anymore. Plus, itís quite bouncy on there, and itís difficult to stretch him.

He has had a remarkable career and at 35, he is still so goodÖ.

Not sure, maybe he was a bit nervous at the start, I started well, then slowed down a bit in the middle, but finished strongly in that first one. In the second, I played well, I was up comfortably 8/4, but let him in againÖ

It was a very pleasant much, no traffic or let problems. I felt physically fine today, much better than during my first round, and actually, it was quite a nice feeling to see Ryan struggling a bit physically in the 4th, meaning that I still got a bit more in the tank!

I got away with a few things today, which I wonít be able to allow myself doing tomorrow, especially at the end of the games, because Thierry is dangerous, and even more so when he is behind. Iím truly looking forward to that match, itís a good opportunity for us to go a step further in the tournament.

Ryan is like Zac and Kasey, they are training very hard with Rodney Martin in New York, and itís starting to pay off. They are the new generation coming up, the future of Australia, and itís good to see them getting closer to the topÖ

[10] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt Stewart Boswell (Aus)     11/5, 8/11, 11/7, 11/7 (66m)

Andrť Delhoste reports

Thierry starts well in the match, he is the more active, quick on his legs, taking a maximum of balls on the volley to prevent Boswell to own the T.

In the second game, Boswell is in control. He finds better lengths than Thierry, and concludes many rallies with backhand dropshots.

In the next 2 games, Thierry takes control again, playing long and hard in the forehand corner. He finds good openings on the australian loose shots, and concludes a lot of rallies on his volley dropshots.

Toward the end of the match, Boswell seems to struggle physically, he will miss several dropshots which he didn't during the firs 3 games.

I really came up there, determined to win, sometimes itís a question of mental preparation, these days, I have times where not that hungry, so I have to use my mind to push myself.

I knew Stewart would be strong physically, so I had to make sure that I move the ball around and I think at the end, I managed to tire him.

I was much better physically, and I played more in my comfort zone than I did in the first round against Shawn. I felt comfortable, both squash wise and physically wise.

It was all about a mental battle for the domination of the T, and I had to get in front, but itís was not an easy task. His length and width is inch perfect, and if you cannot prevent yourself from crosscourting Ė which you canít afford against him Ė well, his volley is just too good.

I was lucky that my drop shots worked today, which meant that I was able to score a few points, and if not, make him work a bit moreÖ With Stuart, itís all about making him move, but not opening the court too much. Difficult task.

Iím playing David Palmer now, Iím really looking forward to it, weíve both given everything we had in our career.

[3] Karim Darwish (Egy) bt Wael El Hindi (Egy)            11/9, 11/3, 11/4 (52m)

It was 3/0, but a hard 3/0Ö..

Itís impossible to know what to expect when you play Wael, weíve been playing each other since we are 13 or 14, we know each otherís game inside out. I had a few losses against him, so I had to be focused from the start.

First game, well, pretty crucial, 17 minutes, I was glad to take it. That court was very bouncy, didnít suit either of our games! So, only solution was to move him as much as I could, and take the ball away from him, as he is one of the best players in the middle, forcing him to go to the four corners, again and again.

Itís good to see where I stand fitness and pace wise. Iíve been training and coaching in the States, but itís difficult to stay match fit when you donít have partners to compete with.

Today, I kept on dropping off pace wise, mental wise, whereas Karim kept going and was more consistent, and that what makes the difference between the top people, and the bottom people.

Iím going to take the rest of the year to try and get match fitter, and come back and start travelling again, playing more tournaments. I want to come backÖ

Borja Golan (Esp) bt [14] Omar Mosaad (Egy)           6/11, 11/7, 11/8, 11/7 (76m)

In the first game, lost a bit of concentration, dropped the length, dropped the intensity, and he took full advantage of it. He played so well todayÖ

I can feel the confidence coming back. I had a few good wins in Spain just before coming here, and thatís what made the difference today I think. We were pretty close squash wise today, but I had that 30% plus confidence in my game.

I think it was all about mental strength. There were so many lets, stops start game, and I was able to not lose my focus at all. That I think makes also the difference in the end.

Sorry, but I would like to thank a few people, the Spanish people that came to support me this week, Carlos, Chimo, Paco, Victor, Alex, and of course, my National Coach Tina Casas, and at last but not least John Milton and Jesus Souto, my two coaches.

Itís so good to be back.

[9] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt Simon Rosner (Ger)
                   12/10, 11/7, 12/10 (49m)

Iím really happy with this win today, and even more so in 3, which makes it a perfect preparation for tomorrowís match.

I came into this match knowing that it was going to be tough, he is so hard to beat these days, and I had to be focused from the start.

Last week we played in the German League, and he beat me 3/1, but I came out having learned a few things, and really work hard on the tactic for this match. And Iím happy to say that I think I played a clever match from a tactical point of view.

Now, when it comes to the World Open, all the players are just playing at their best, and thatís no different this time. And personally, Iím in a good form for the biggest tournament of the year.

Nick tomorrow. Well, I think I was a bit unlucky to be seeded 9 for this event, and our match is maybe earlier, but in a tournament, it doesnít matter if you lose in the first round, or in the final. Youíve just got to win each and every one of them.

We played in the US Open, he beat me 3/1, and there again, Iíve learned a few things from that defeat. Now, going to go back to my room, and work on it from a tactical point of view, while being aware that Nick is the best in the world in that department!!!

Looking forward to that match, but it would be nice to have two El Shorbagy in the last 16 ..."

I was a bit unhappy not to take the first or the third, I think maybe it would have been different had I taken on of themÖ It was really close.

I never felt comfortable on there, he didnít give me a chance to play my game, and today was the better player reallyÖ


[7] Peter Barker (Eng) bt Steve Coppinger (Rsa)            9/11, 11/5, 11/4, 11/8 (57m)

I was up in the first, then relaxed a bit really, 9/7 up, and lost it 11/9! Good lesson to learn there. He was up in the second as well, but I closed that one and finished well, but again in the 4th, I had little switch off, but still, I live to fight another day.

Cameron, thatís going to be tough, but we are in the last 16, so every match is going to be toughÖ.

I played very well for a game and a half, I was up 5/3 in the second after taking the first 11/9. I had again a good consistency in my shots and game, and when I dropped off, he got on top of me. And once he had the first under the belt, he grew more confident.

[16] Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Chris Ryder (Eng)                  11/9, 11/3, 11/5 (46m)

At the end of the first, wheelís came off!!

In the first, I felt I was in front of him, playing accurate and good squash and he started cracking a few winners, playing like he had nothing to lose, just loosen up and I lost that one pretty quickly!

In patches, I thought I was playing level with him, first and in the middle of the 3rd but then at other times, I wasnít! How? Well, pretty basic, I lost both length and widthÖ

I hate losing of course Iím disappointedÖ

The first game he went full on, he took full advantage of my loose cross courts, and was playing great straight kills and drop shots.

From 6/8 down, I just hack my way the first game and that momentum carried me to the end of the match.

In the 3rd, he came back strong at 5/5, but I put my head down and powered my way to the endÖ

[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)          5/11, 11/8, 11/5, 11/9 (50m)


Today, we had on court today the Mature Shabana and the Kid Shabana, AKA Karim Abdel Gawad, who played out of his skin, no fear, no pressure, just perfect length and winners all around, Shabs style.

Shabana, well, canít say he enjoyed it bless him, but he couldnít help smiling times and times again at the nerve, the invention, the speed, and the accuracy the contender showed today.

It was beautiful, nice, fair, clean, accurate, fireworks Squash, with a boy that grabbed any opportunity that was given to him. Only an example. Match ball Shabs 10/2. ďIím going to kill him at the backĒ thinks the former World Champion. He hit a couple of tins, next thing he knows, itís 9/10 match ballÖ.

I saw the future of Egypt squash today, and between Marwan and Kid Karim, itís looking freaking bright.

That was a nice game. Of course, I can see the similarities with me when I was young, the ďholding my opponent by the neckĒ part in particular!!!!!!

I know that kid well, he lives five minutes away from my house, and we train often together. And I think Iím going to train more and more with himÖ.

I did not underestimate him today, and yet, I did. I didnít expect him to be as good as that. The boy is a monster, a monster of squash, in the good sense, of course. And I could rise my game, but freak, so can he!

[Q] Marwan El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [11] Daryl Selby (Eng)
                  11/8, 11/7, 4/11, 4/11, 14/12 (92m)

I think I played this game as if it was the final of the World Open.

I told you I did a big preparation with Ian Thomas for this event - that guys means somuch to me, I want to thank himÖ

I made sure that I didnít let the stop and starts disturb my focus, I was told that Daryl was sometimes talking a bit with the ref, and to keep my concentration at all cost and I tried and played my game.

In the second game, I remember him slowing down the pace, and I canít remember much from the 3rd and 4th. In the 5th, I remember thinking, when I was down 4/0, come on, give it a big push, you are NOT going to lose easy, you are not going to give up, and I started to go for my shots.

Iím so happy, this is my first world Open, Iím so happy to reach the last 16 and play on the glass court, it means a lot to me. And Iím now playing James Willstrop, that I admire greatly.

I want to thank my mum, who is in Egypt, who I love so much, my dad, I know he wanted me to win that match so much, and my brother, who is always there for me.

Iím just so proud of my brother, this is the best day of my life, Iím so happy. He played unbelievably well.


[6] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [Q] Cesar Salazar (Mex)           11/3, 11/9, 11/5 (49m)

Andrť Delhoste reports

In the first game, Greg is in control. He finds perfect lengths which provide no opportunity for his opponent to attack the front of the court.

In the second game, Greg doesn't put as much pressure and his lengths aren't as deep as in thenfirst game. He will make 5 unforced errors which will allow Salazar to come back to 9/9. Greg will however clinch the game 11/9, without playing any forehand dropshots despite some clear openings.

In the third game, Greg is playing on a faster pace and finds his superb length again. He now uses all his range of shots and the mexican is struggling physically to stay in the rallies. He will concede the match obviously exhausted.

He was bound to be tired from his game yesterday against Adrian, so I made sure that the first game was really long, with hard long rallies. He plays a lot at the front and counterattacks really well, so I really had to take it to him.

In the second, I was up 6/2 and he came back right in, I had to make sure I was going back to basics, tight drives and patienceÖ.

In the third, I speeded up the pace and I could see that he was starting to really suffer physically, so I kept pushing but with a very low percentage game I didnít want to reiterate the previous game errors.

Still, he must be happy with his tournament, he qualified, and then went pretty far in the tournament, he must be very proud.

Greg is such a great player, he played so fast, he is so strong. And today, I felt slow and heavy. At times, I was able to push, but not for longÖ.!

I had a great time here, Iíve learned so much, I had the opportunity to play with great players, the experience has made me stronger, and Iím sure itís good for my futureÖ

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt  Nicolas Muller (Sui)         8/11, 9/11, 11/3, 11/8, 11/5 (60m)

I didnít realise that I had a day of rest tomorrow, and that I was going to play on the glass court. It would have taken a lot of pressure off if I had known, I was so worried about my body, sore hamstring. That is an excellent newsÖ

Iím thinking too much, for weeks now, you are thinking about the importance of the tournament, and itís all about finding the balance between enjoying it, and still win to get to the next roundÖ Itís all about managing these thoughts.

I hate this court by the way.

He played extremely well, he was so up for it, and I couldnít help myself clapping at his shots! I could speak more about his game, more interesting than talk about me!

One thing Iíve learned on the tour, is that when you are under pressure, you canít think BIG. Youíve got to think about small things, not about beating the guy, about the next round, the tournament. No, youíve got to think about how to swing your racquet, about every single drop of sweat that come off your body, small steps.

Iím glad Iím through, Iím glad he pushed me as hard as he did, and honestly, I couldnít have been disappointed if I had lost, because if it would have meant I had only myself to blame. He was playing so well, and if I hadnít been accurate, digging hard, playing as tight as possible, if I hadnít given it my 100% and been patient forever, I couldnít have come back and won.

This game made me tougher, Iíve learned a lot, thatís the kind of feeling that puts you in the zone, if you win that is, otherwise, you find yourself in the checking zone at the departure gate!!!!

I got better as the match unfold. I had to push my lungs to try and get oxygen in, because since Qatar, I havenít been able to do anything, expect walk and swim, complete rest to make sure the body was fine.

So, Nicki, thanks for being that good, and Iím sure weíll have some more though matches, and Iím pretty sure youíll be in the top 10 really soon.

One sentence to describe the match? Big boost for the next match.

I canít remember last time I was that disappointed after losing a match.

After the second, he came out firing, and his confidence grew with a few winners. And after that, well, he was just being RamyÖ. What that man was able to do while not moving at his bestÖ.

He made a phenomenal come back, well, I gave him the chance to come back, not being as sharp and as tight as I was in the beginningÖ

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