ē Al-Ahram Squash Open NEWGIZA ē 17-23 Sep 2016 ē Cairo, Egypt ē  


  TODAY at the Al-Ahram Squash Open

Sun 18-Sep, Day TWO:
Egyptians dominate men's qualifiers
but miss out on the women's spots

Qualifying finals at the Le Lido City View saw the main draw places filled, the main surprise being that in the women's matches at least, there were no Egyptian winners !

The top four women's qualifying seeds all won, and while Rachael Grinham and Tesni Evans did so in straight games, neither had an easy time of it as Mariam Metwally and Salma Hany threatened to extend the matches in the third games.

Fiona Moverley and Low Wee Wern needed all five games to beit their Egyptian opponents, Moverley coming from two games down to beat Hana Ramadan and Low winning a see-saw encounter with Nadine Shahin.

Egyptians claimed three of the men's main draw spots - four counting the lucky loser spot thrown up by the withdrawal of the injured Mathieu Castagnet.

Mohamed Reda came from a game down to beat Carlos Cornes, Omar Abdel Meguid beat Mazen Gamal in straight games, and Karim Ali Fathi upset the seedings to beat Zahed Mohamed in four. Scotland's Greg Lobban denied an Egyptian clean sweep as he beat Mohamed Abouelghar in four.

It was Zahed Mohamed who drew the lucky loser spot, giving him a match against Borja Golan, while today's four winners all face higher-seeded opposition.

Grinham and Fathi are the only ones of today's winners guaranteed to play on the glass court tomorrow night as they drew matches against Nour El Sherbini and Omar Mosaad. The others need one more win in tomorrow afternoon's first round matches at Le Lido to fulfil the #SquashbythePyramids dream.

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I have said it, and Iím saying it again. You can only bow to the Tactical Genius of Rachael Grinham, who at 39, just displayed some of the best Cat/Mouse squash on the Tour, yet again.

She just lobbed Mariam away today, lobbed, and moved around and found exquisite drop shots, and still moved sooo well, despite Mariamís lovely feel of the ball and hard hitting variation.

Started well for the Egyptian, 5/1, but suddenly, in come the lobs, that on that cold court, and like knife in warm butter. 11/6 Rachael.

The second is pretty much the same, although Mariam changes her game beautifully, hitting hard and faster, trying to get Rachael out of her comfort zone. But slowly, she gets sucked in the Australianís game, and itís 11/4 to Rachael.

The third look pretty much the same yet again, with Rachael getting way ahead 9/5, but finally, the 39 years old seems to show signs she is not a machine, and that the hard work Mariam made her do is starting to take its toll. Mariam plays her game finally, finding superb attacks and hitting immaculate length. But at 9/9, Rachael is able to stop the flow, 10/9 and a very unhappy Egyptian sees her dream of playing in front of the Pyramids crashed when she is penalised with a stroke on match ball, 11/9 Rachael, extremely relieved to get away in three, I can vouch for that!....

Pfew! That is my comment for this one!!!!

I am sooo happy it didnít go over the third one, let me tell you.

The first game was so weird, I had a terrible start, she was flying on there, 5/1 up, and then, I donít know, I think I must have score like 8 points in a row Ė it felt like 8 points anyway Ė so maybe the fact I was down worked in my favour, and carried me in the second too. Sometimes, when you win points that quickly, itís not an advantage, maybe she stepped off a bit.

The third was very disputed, and I was expecting all the games to be like that, and I really really wanted to take that third, because, she was only going to get more and more pumped up as the match went on, so, so relieve to win 3/0, the body will hold better tomorrow, if I had a 5 setter today, not sure I would have been able to show up tomorrow!

I just love the game. Thatís why I keep competing. I like the strategy side of it, and when I play with young players, hitting the ball so fast, moving so well, I have to keep reminding myself, ďdonít get sucked in their game, you are not going to win that way, just lob the ball, give yourself timeÖ. ď I am still playing because Iím just enjoying it so much.


Fiona looked like she was not going to be able to qualify for this one either poor mite. After failing in HK and China, she was desperate for a win here, but to be honest, she was outplayed completely in the first two games, and I truly didnít see how Hana could lose that one.

There is a parameter that I overlooked, the tiredness from Hana. That little girl, still a junior for a few more days, has played a few events in a row, won Nantes on Sunday, went back to University in the UK and back here for the qualifications. And to be honest, from the third on, I could see that her mental energy was just not there anymore.

Hold on, Iím not saying that it was easy for Fiona, not whatsoever! The English lady was running on fumes from the end of the 3rd, but I doní t know, there was a desperation in Fiona today that you normally find in the very young Egyptians. Today, Fiona was maybe just a bit more desperate to win than HanaÖ. Itís all in the head, cause there were both pretty tired and pushing every point after every point, trying to win just one more, just one more, just one moreÖ

Hana takes the first game from 7/6, 11/6, and keeps on with the momentum in the second, 6/2, 8/5. Fiona gives it a big push, 8/9, 11/8 after some monstrous rallies.

But if the English seemed a bit lost on there for the first two, itís now Hanaís turn to look distraught, not knowing what to do with the ball. She did that in Nantes as well, relaxing in the 3rd from 2/0 up, so I thought good effort from Fiona, but the Egyptian will be back stronger in the 4th.

Nope. There absolutely nothing between the players in that 4th, 8/8, and suddenly, Fionaís power seems to pin the Egyptian to the back, and forces her to run far too much to pick up the Englishís volleying, getting her more and more frustrated/tired, 11/8 Fiona, we are in a decider.

It is obvious to all of us watching they are both absolutely knackered and have nothing left. Still, they keep on working and working and running and retrieving and attacking. What a game, what determination coming from Fiona. But as the game progresses, Hanaís length and power is fading away. Fiona feels it. She gives it all what she doesnít have anymore, 2/2, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 10/6 match ball. Fionaís partner is losing his voice, Danny Massaroís style bless him, as he sees the match balls stringing away, 9/10. But with a superb backhand drop shot, itís 11/9 for Fiona.

What a superb advert for squash this match was. Absolutely stunning match.

I need to start quicker!!! Yesterday, one game, today, two, there are no excuses.

Today, she was so good at pinning me down at the back, with her crosscourt from the backhand to the forehand, so after the third, I started cutting her off, and volleying drop more, and found my feelÖ.

I needed to counter her pace, I didnít need to match it, just weighing my length to the back to stop her from attacking. So when she was counterdropping, I was there to pick it up, and could volley it, which is my strength.

You have no idea how happy I am, after not qualifying for Hong Kong nor China, after all that hard work I produced over the summer, I needed something to come off itÖ.

I played well in patches, she is so feisty itís just incredible. I think I did well to hang in there and come out with a win. It was not my best squash, but you cannot play your best every day, and I did enough to still winÖ

First time in 4!

He is such a good player, he makes you work so hard for every rally, and each rally has got to be perfect if you want to win it.

Iím not happy with my mental focus today, in the second, he was ahead the whole game, I manage to come back, 8/8, 9/9, but he still pulls away with that one. I should have been more patient and win that game.
And in the third, Iím up 7/2 up, it comes back to 9/8, and I had to put everything I had into those couples of rallies. But I think it paid off.

4th, I started better, started to pull away from him, and he made conveniently a few errors, he was never able to come back in it.

Overall, Iím happy with my performance today, I have been working a lot this summer on my mental strength, my game, my physical strength, Iím attacking more, my drop shots are better, I hit more, I get more winners, and Iím able to slow down when I need to.

Need to say thank you to Mum and Dad, and of course to Abbas and Hossam, they have pushed me brilliantly yesterday and today, nothing can compare with that, and I wish I could take them with me everywhereÖ.

No, no, the match was not bad, there were only three or four points where we discussed with the referee. It was a good match.

Something very weird happened today, 15m before the start of the match, my knee just locked up! I just couldnít bend it at all. So thatís why we started with 5m delay as I was getting it taped by HossamÖ

He played very well in the first game, he won it 11/9, then I started to hit better, and moved better too, and I was able to make him move around better too, preventing him from volleying which he did a lot in the first game.

Itís my first tournament of the season, hopefully Iíll play better tomorrow, and move better too, thatís so important! I just hope I can play on the glass court, there is only Mosaad that plays there, but weíll see, I just hope I can play being 100% physically, thatís the most important.

Today, a completely different mental focus from yesterday, and different opponent too.

Yesterday, I was playing Karim, just coming off a win in Houston, playing in his hometown, who I just beat 3/0 in Hong Kong, he was probably looking for revenge, but if in HK it was a straight forward 3/0, it was much harder this time round.

Yes, like I said, I had a completely different mental focus today, I had a good talk with my coach after Hong Kong. We get on very well, I think there are some similarities in our games and he is trying to implant them in my game.

I want to become one of those players that are tough to beat, whereas last season, I got a bit of a reputation for being a bit weak mentally. And it changed today. I produced a good performance, both mentally and tactically, I knew what I had to do, and just did that.

I wouldnít say it was comfy, no, not at any time of the match. She kept close throughout the match, and even the last game was close, it was never easy. Iím just happy to get a 3/0.

I think I played better than yesterday, I mentioned my game yesterday not being consistent enough, well I think today I managed to do just that, which gave me more opportunities. Also I volleyed a lot more, and got the balance with my length right, and that worked quite well.

Meguid marches past Mazen

A superb performance from the Dentist today, who just played a spotless squash. After taking the first game 11/6 taking the last four points, Omar went on with the same momentum. Focused, playing superb squash, and not opening the court for his dangerous opponent Ė who luuuves his reverse angles he does.

Two big boys on court, I only saw the last two games, very few lets indeed, fluid and clean, drives and lovely attacks from both, but Omar controlling most of the rallies.

Still Mazen produced an excellent 3rd, leading 2/0, 3/3, only to see a very confident Omar taking control again on the middle of the court, stepping in front and pushing Mazen in the four corners, 10/4 match ball, and match 11/6Ö.

I was a bit nervous in the first game. But I think we mature with age, and see the game differently, Iím not panicking anymore and Iím able to implement my game better.

He is not easy to play as there is no rhythm at all in his game. Abbas told me to just play on one side, not opening the court too much, and anything coming out in the middle, go short.

Today, I managed to keep the pressure up the whole match, which means Iím improving.


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