TODAY at the Al-Ahram
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
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.
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.
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.
was Zahed Mohamed who drew the lucky loser spot, giving him a
match against Borja Golan, while today's four winners all face
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.
EN BREF #1 :
Welcome to Mena House
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
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
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
Pfew! That is my comment for
I am sooo happy it didnít go over the third one, let me tell
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
PROBABLY THE MATCH OF THE TOURNAMENT
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.
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.
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
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
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
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 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
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
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.
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
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.
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.