TODAY at the Al-Ahram
|Tue 20-Sep, Day FOUR, Quarters
 Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 3-0  Omneya Abdel Kawy
11/1, 11/4, 11/8 (22m)
[wc] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 3-2  Alison Waters (Eng)
11/6, 11/6, 11/13, 12/14, 11/8 (82m)
 Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-2  Simon Rosner (Ger)
4/11, 11/6, 11/5 (66m)
 Ali Farag (Egy) 3-0  Ramy Ashour (Egy)
6/5 rtd (15m)
Four Egyptian winners in contrasting
first day of the Al-Ahram Squash Open Quarter-finals at the
Great Pyramids of Giza produced four Egyptian winners, but in
highly contrasting manners,
World number ones Nour El Sherbini and Mohamed
Elshorbagy both progressed to the semis, Sherbini racing
past Omneya Abdel Kawy in just over 20 minutes, but Shorbagy was
twice behind before finally overcoming the resistance of
Germany's Simon Rosner.
Nour El Tayeb and Ali Farag made it another family
double. Tayeb, the wildcard who yesterday beat Nouran Gohar,
looked to be heading for a comfortable win at two-nil and 10-8
against Alison Waters, but the Englishwoman fought back to force
a decider only to see Tayeb clinch it in the end.
Farag was in the middle of a close first game against Ramy
Ashour when the three-time world champion pulled up in distress
with what appeared to be an achilles tendon injury and was
unable to continue.
Yes, we are sharing here, and she is like my
big sister, so itís not easy to play against herÖ
I was trying to be focused from the first rally, and I think I
was controlling the rallies well, I found myself 6/1, 7/1, so I
just wanted to keep going with that momentum, which I managed to
do on the first and second.
Yes, there were some lets I could have asked, but I wanted to
keep playing a bit, there was space to play, and I wasnít going
to hit her, so I just kept the rallies goingÖ.
I think I was handling the court better than her, she seemed to
be struggling a bit on there tonight, where I was quite
comfortable. I could see that she was trying every game to come
back into the match. But luckily for me, she did a few errors
right at crucial times, that helped me widening the gap.
Still, after leading 2/0, I found myself relaxing a bit too
much, and you cannot that against Omneya, I found myself trying
to play shots, and thinking this is not the right time for that!
So I tried to refocus and finish the match.
 Nour El Sherbini
(Egy) 3-0  Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
NOUR SPEEDS INTO SEMIS
Not easy to play your Big Sis, your room mate, and your friend,
especially when you know how tired she is from preparing herself
for the biggest day of her lifeÖ
What to say about a 22m game, 3 m first game, 5 the secondÖ. Not
much really. Nour was in front, dispatching her magic, and
Omneya tried to stop her, but just couldnít.
third was longer, 8m, with Omneya taking charge of the middle,
sending to the four corners, and giving it a big push. Rallies
were intense and excellent squash really, Omneya leading 4/1,
before Nour felt the danger, scoring 5 points in a row.
The rest of the game would be very close, but Omneya, not
trusting her fitness Ė as she told me yesterday Ė just went for
just too much at crucial times, offering that little gap to Nour
who closed it 11/8 on the first match ball.
 Mohamed Elshorbagy
(Egy) 3-2  Simon Rosner (Ger)
4/11, 11/6, 11/5 (66m)
MOHAMED OVERCOMES HIS DEMONS
People forget that the world number 1 is a young man. He is 25,
and has been in the top 5 for so long, we forget he is still
young. And today, it was obvious to anybody a bit observant that
Mohamed was not in top form. He kept noticing everything that
was happening outside the court, kept picking stuff on the
court, and kept looking on the floor. Three undeniable signs
when you know Mohamed.
well, didnít have much to lose. Playing the world number 1 at
home, pressure is not on you is it. And Simon knew Ė he
remembered Gouna Ė that he has the game to beat/frustrate the
Egyptian. When Simon plays at his favourite fast pace, he plays
some volley shots that even Mohamed cannot read and is finds
himself under enormous pressure, and he just keeps going, and
going, and goingÖ.
ďI felt completely flatĒ he told us at the end of the match.
Yes, I could see that. I could see how lost he was, and unable
to find solutions to shut the Germanís game out, how he just
couldnít get in his head this time round.
Simon just walked all over Mohamed in the first, 3/0, 5/2, 8/2,
11/5 I 12m, 0 errors from Simon, 3 from Mohamed.
crowd was stunned. Apart from a kid behind me that kept shouting
GO BAGY, it was pretty quiet for an Egyptian crowd. Still, like
yesterday after the third, I guess Basma told her son to pick up
the pace Ė the first game was played at a mid pace that seem to
give the German a lot of time of the ball. And it worked Mohamed
always had a couple of points lead, he takes the second 11/8 in
But the third is a no show from Mohamed while Simon just plays
the game of his life! He is in front, all the time, controlling
every rally, reading the Egyptianís shots and counterdropping or
counter attacking superbly, 11/4 in 7 minutes.
At that moment, something unusual happened. Mohamed got away
from the two people that were advising him, and stepped behind
the court, calling his mum only to come and talk to him. And the
Basma Magic, the Push Moment as Mohamed described it, the same
that got him that victory in Gouna against Greg, got him back on
Simon was still very much in the race, and it was point for
point, 1/1, 2/2, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5. At that point, a few
discussions, a no let against Simon Ė which I thought was
extremely harsh Ė becomes a let and that seems to fire up our
Egyptian, straight to 10/5, 11/6, 14m game. The crowd there
played its partÖ.
Once in the 5th, Mohamed was back right in control. Simon, now a
bit tired from all his matches in Ponte, the travelling, and the
ridiculous work he did against the world number 1 for 4 games at
a completely ALIEN PACE started to only defend instead of taking
the initiative as heíd done the whole match. But who could blame
And finally, Mohamed won that match, a match he just didnít want
to win. Yes, I am taking risks here, but I think the reason why
his body shut down was because he just didnít want to play Ramy
again in Egypt. Not that he is afraid or anything. He would have
actually enjoyed the battle very much. But his body/brain was
not of the same feeling. It remembered the pain/agony of the
match in Gouna 18 months ago. And it refused to play ball.
But Mohamed the Champion, tonight, just beat Mohamed the
Athlete. But careful, Bagy, Simon is getting closer and closer,
and next time, bewareÖ.
Physically, I felt good. I think I played well,
although it was completely different court conditions to
yesterday for me, traditional and cold, today, glass and warm
really! But still I thought I adapted well and started off well,
taking the first game.
In the third, he made a few unforced errors, so I thought it was
the time to get the match, finally!!
At 2/1 up, I was still playing well, and at 5/5 in that 4th,
there was a few discussions with the ref, and I thought he got
fired up, and played much better.
I donít think I did much wrong in the 5th, I just couldnít
control it as much, maybe I got a bit passive, but that shows
why he is world number 1, and Iím not!
Still, Iím happy with my performance and the way I handled the
crazy schedule, arriving straight from Pontefract for the
European Teams, and playing two matches yesterday and today.
It was a fair and clean match, and I enjoyed it.
I felt flat today, really flat. I have no
explanation really, I shouldnít be tired, itís the beginning of
the season, and only the second match of the event! I had to
push to hard mentally to make it happen.
After the third game, I took my mum aside behind the court, I
only wanted to speak with her, I knew that only her would find
the words I needed to hear, I needed my mum to give me that
Ďpush momentí. I told her, you have no idea how hard I have got
to push for every single short shot he is playing, every single
Sometimes you go on court and you feel flat. It's not because
you're tired or anything, I don't understand it.
But I'm a tough player, and I told myself that I was not going
to lose easily in Egypt, in front of the Pyramids. So I pushed
and made sure it was going to take a lot of effort to beat me
He was playing very well but when I pushed mentally, I think he
went defensive and it would have been even tougher had he not
done that. I think the only thing that would have made me lose
tonight was if he had kept being positive.
To be honest I'm proud that I could win today. Iím very proud of
what I did. Itís moments like that that defines who we are, and
that separate the top athletes from the others - today was tough
but I live for these kind of challenges.
Luckily for me, I have a day of rest tomorrow, Iíll probably
need it more than anybody else!
But you know, my mum is the main reason why I won today, like
she is the main reason I won against Greg in Gouna. She knew
what to say and when to say it and it made the difference. She
is the main reason Iím here today.
Gutted to have lost in a big battle but proud
of myself for digging in and coming through some tough
Awesome venue, loved playing.
[wc] Nour El Tayeb
(Egy) 3-2  Alison Waters (Eng)
11/6, 11/6, 11/13, 12/14, 11/8 (82m)
ALISON WOULD BE THE WINNER
If the young Egyptian, 23, played sublime squash for two game
and 18 points, it was then Alison that gave the world a lesson
in volleying and determination. And I am not afraid to say that
Ali played a better squash from 10/8 in the 3rd, and that
anywhere where else than Egypt, she would have won today. But
there is a sort of desperation to win when an Egyptian plays in
Egypt, Iíve seen it again and again. So, imagine in front of the
was spotless squash from both girls in the first two games to be
honest, 1 error each in the first, and one for Ali in the
second. Thatís it. And long rallies two, if you consider the
score/time ratio, 9m for 11/6, then 11 for the same score.
The third is amazing really, what a game. Alison is taking the T
and for the first time of the match is able to step in front of
Nour. Putting the Egyptian under more pressure than she did in
the first two, the English is finding her volleying range and
shooting at will. Score is close, 2/2, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6. 9/6 for
Nour who has strung 4 points, an error, the only one of the game
for her, and itís 10/8 match ball. The crowd is chanting and
itís lovely to see. But the Egyptian just wonít close it,
despite 3 match balls. And itís the English lady that gets it on
her first attempt, 13/11, in 14m.
If the third was amazing, the fourth is just from another
Alison by now is at the top of her game. She plays sublime
squash Iím not afraid to say, and yes, Nour manages to stay in
touch, but is forced to do a heck of a lot of work, picking up
Aliís shots all over the court, sliding here, sliding there, the
rallies are getting more intense, more dramatic. The crowd is
now fully involved. 1/1, 3/1 Ali, 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, 6/6, 7/7. Ah
ha, 9/7, surely this time Nour.
Nope, 9/9 it is, and 10/9 game ball Alison. A no let against Ali
is corrected by the video ref, then is Alisonís ball good or
not, we are not sure, so we play a let Ė the video ref is
starting to be busy Ė and itís finally a tin from Alison, 10/10.
11/10 Alison, game ball. Nour asks for a let, the ref cannot
decide, video ref in action, itís a stroke. Next point, same
story, this time, itís a no let, another game ball for Alison,
12/11. A crosscourt deep in the back corner saves that one,
12/12. At that point, we have 1 let, then again a video ref
decision for Alison, itís a let, then a let decision for Nour
contested by Alison, video review, decision upheld, e are still
Are you confused? Iím confusedÖ
Finally, a tin from Nour and the crosscourt kill that dies in
the nick, and itís 14/12 in 24m which by the way is longer that
Alison, pumped up by the clinching of that ĎVideoRef Festivalí
Game, is still attacking at will, while getting frustrated with
a Nour that is asking far too many lets Ė she will apologise for
it in her postmatch interview. The rallies are still as
ridiculous, with Alison playing sublime attacks and Nour,
defending and retrieving for her life, just keeps a couple of
points ahead, 2/2, 5/2, only to be caught back 6/6. 8/6 Nour, 2
strokes take care of that 8/8.
A tin, 9/8 Nour, another video ref decision that becomes a
stroke for the Egyptian, and a last huge ridiculous hit, run,
dive rally, with Nour finally finding a short shot, that Ali
just cannot save. 11/8, 13m last game, 82m.
Iím exhausted. Are you?
match I've ever won. I've never been match ball up and lost
before and there was a lot going through my head.
Even when I played against Raneem in NY, the pressure was on
her, not me. So it wasnít as tough as today.
At 10-8 in the third, I had that thought of winning, and
stupidly, I saw myself raising my arms, having won the match, I
saw myself having that big picture with the pyramids in the
background and boom it hit me!!
After the third, it got quite heated and I just started
panicking. I stopped my attacking, I took my space too much, I
know that, and I apologise, I was just, well, panicking
completely. But we have a lot of respect Alison and myself for
each other, so I think itís ok now.
Thing is, I told all my friends and my family to come and watch
me and the thought of losing was going through my head. I just
didnít want to loseÖ
They say Egyptians play drop shots, well, I had absolutely no
confidence in them from the 3rd on, and I had my coaches telling
me to play drop shots, my dad poor him just came at the end of
the 4th, and told me, begged me to play a drop shot, he BEGGED
ME, why are you so scared he said, but still I just couldnít.
I didn't think I was going to win after the third game. She was
playing so well, I feel sorry for the poor ref, we gave him a
very hard time, he just couldnít decide what decisions to takeÖ.
a rest day, Iíll be able to work on the few things I noticed
today, but the thing is, I havenít enjoyed my squash for a long
time now, Iím putting so much pressure on myself, I had that
feeling the clock is ticking and that I have to win evertying
now, but my husband is so supportive, and he is the one telling
me to take my time, to stay positive, to keep pushing, and that
my squash will come hopefully.
I am so happy I won in front of my parentsÖ
 Ali Farag
(Egy) 3-0  Ramy Ashour (Egy)
6/5 rtd (15m)
RAMYíS ACHILLES PACKS UP
If it wasnít that sad, and dramatic, and frankly, Iím in tears
writing those words, I would say that he has managed to tear a
part of his body he never did before.
I read a lot of quotes from athletes who had their Achilles
tendon damage. They say the same thing. They feel that somebody
shot them in the calve. So, when I saw Ramy turning to Ali
asking him if he banged into him, I knew immediately it was not
good. And when I saw Ramy unable to put any weight on that leg,
Now, Iím trying not to panic. There is a logical explanation
that could be the reason why this happened. Ramy Iím told just
changed shoes, and that fact alone could have created a
unbalance in his so fined tuned instrument. Any change could
If it was the reason, we can hope itís a small tear and Iím told
by somebody who had the same problem that it just heals by
It could also be a real tear and like Joelle King, Ramy would
then require surgery.
For now, letís just shout at the Stars, the Angels and all what
is up there that sometimes, their mysterious ways just suck.