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


  TODAY at the Al-Ahram Squash Open
Wed 21-Sep, Day FIVE, Quarters (Bottom):

Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-2 [2] Nicol David (Mas)
              11/9, 3/11, 4/11, 11/8, 11/9 (61m)
[3] Raneem El Welily
(Egy) 3-1 [7] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)
              11/9, 4/11, 11/6, 11/3 (35m)

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-0 [5] Tarek Momen (Egy)
              11/5, 11/4, 11/6 (40m)
[2] Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-0 [LL] Zahed Mohamed (Egy)
               11/2, 13/11, 11/9 (55m)

Perry shocks David as
semi-final lineups are completed

The second day of quarter-final play at the Great Pyramids of Giza saw three more Egyptian winners and one big upset.

In the opening match Sarah-Jane Perry, having already beaten Camille Serme in a first round upset, did it again as she overcame eight-time world champion Nicol David, coming from one-two down to record another impressive win.

Third seed Raneem El Welily overcame American Amanda Sobhy in four games to complete the semi-finals, which will feature three Egyptians.

The men's semi-final will both be all-Egyptian affairs after second and third seeds Omar Mosaad and Karim Abdel Gawad overcame fellow Egyptians Tarek Momen and Zahed Mohamed, both in straight games although the last match finished in controversial circumstances.

Photo Galleries

Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-2 [2] Nicol David (Mas)
          11/9, 3/11, 4/11, 11/8, 11/9 (61m)


I guess that Camille won’t feel as bad after Sarah-Jane’s match against Nicol: Sarah-Jane is just on fire in this event, and is killing her shots and her opponents one after the other.

When SJ saw the draw, Camille who she never beat in nine matches, then Nicol that she never took a game of in four encounters, I guess you cannot blame her for booking a flight tomorrow….

Well, who is looking like having to pay for a change of date then? Oh yes…

It started very well for the English, 4/1, Nicol right back 4/4, 7/4 SJ, the rallies are very long, and they are both making a lot of work. 9/6, Nicol comes back, but a little bit too late, 10/8, 11/9 in 13m.

Then something weird happens. SJ is obviously drained out. She is making error upon error, visibly out of breath/oxygen – it was still 39°C at 6pm – and just cannot stop Nicol’s amazing volley drops to kill her, 11/3 (7m), 11/5 (9m).

To be fair, a 3/1 looks highly on the cards, but suddenly, out of nowhere, a bit of an E.T. resurrecting flower pot – you can't take the actress out of me, sue me – SJ starts finding her range, and it’s now her turn to kill Nic at the front. 5/2, 8/3.

Nicol being Nicol, OF COURSE she finds solutions, she hangs in there and comes back to 8/9. But a stroke and a long drop shot later, we are back at 2/2, 11/8, in 9m.

The fifth sees a good start from the Malaysian, 2/0, 3/1, but SJ is now full of confidence and volley nicks, 3/3, 4/4, up she goes 8/5, 9/6. Again, Nic’s experience and grit led her to 9/9.

But Sarah-Jane is just flying and will score the last two points. Her emotion is visible. She cannot believe she just beat Nicol. Probably the “plus beau jour de sa vie de joueuse”. Look it up…

I don't know what to say. It was tough tough tough. Before I came here, my aim was to just play on the glass court. And now, I’m about to play the semis.

In the fifth, I thought I was ahead, and suddenly, we were 9/9 again, having to play at a ridiculous pace. She is amazing. I have been looking up to her for years. She's such a fierce competitor.

I had I had a bit of a second wind after the third, but I also listen to my coaches (Sue Wright over the phone and Alison here) who told me I was making myself do a lot of extra work. They told me to stop running around her in circles, and play my game.
At the end I got a bit emotional because it's a lot o hard work paying off. I didn't feel my best today but I made myself out everything into it. Nicol never stops - I've had lots of game balls against her before and lost them so I knew I had to keep focusing until the end.

Before the event, if you had told me I would reach the semis… I had the feeling my game was changing and improving, but there is nothing like getting some big wins to give you confidence in yourself.

Only problem, I have to change my flight now…

Sarah-Jane Perry

It’s not that I didn’t do much wrong, I just didn’t much at all. I am playing average squash, and that’s not going to get me anywhere.

I did a lot of work this summer, I thought I got a few things right, but I guess I didn’t, it didn’t work AT ALL, so I’ll have to stop and think for a while, how I want to carry forward.

At the moment, I’m clueless, I’m just way off, I have no fire at all.

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-0 [5] Tarek Momen (Egy)
          11/5, 11/4, 11/6 (40m)


It’s one of those matches you really think are going to be fireworks and over 90m, to find that it’s one-sided on the day.

Those two played day in day out at the Gezirah Club for 8 years now. Karim comes from the 6th October settlement – miiiiiiiles away – while Tarek just crossed the bridge from Garden City to Zamaleck, and they hit the ball together.

Can they read each other’s game. Oh yes. Is there the upmost respect between the two? Oh yes. Were there are lot of decisions? Oh no. Was Karim flying on that court, finding stupendous drop shots while Tarek was moving very well, but always on the back foot, not having enough time to adjust his lethal long drop shots out of nowhere? Oh yes.

Tarek never gave up, didn’t go Tin Mad (only 7 the whole match), but just didn’t find his magic today. “It’s not that I didn’t do much wrong, I just didn’t much… at all.”

It summarises the match I guess…

Tarek is such a tough player to read, you never know what he is going to do, out of the 4 matches we played on PSA, 3 went to 3/2, only one he beat me 3/0. So I expected a big battle today. And you know how hard it is to play a friend you have been training for 8 years with.. We know each other’s game so well. Not easy.

I think this is one of my best match tactically, I was able to handle the wind and the funny bounce better than him today I feel, maybe I adapted better to the tough conditions.

I was not focusing on wining or losing the match today, the only thing I did was to enjoy the moment, I remember coming to see the Legends play 10 years ago, I was a spectator, and I remember thinking that I would give anything just to hit the ball once, just once.

Last night, I just couldn’t sleep. I just wanted to start my match and be on that court. So when today, I got the chance of playing a match, I just wanted to savour that moment, and if I could, win it, just to have the pleasure, the privilege to play again.

[3] Raneem El Welily 3-1 [7] Amanda Sobhy (Usa)
            11/9, 4/11, 11/6, 11/3 (35m)


May the Angels bless Raneem, but when somebody asked me today if she was going to win, I replied, looking up to the Skies “I don’t think even HE knows it.”
Raneem is one of the most gifted players you can find on the Tour. Maybe THE most gifted. But like all flamboyant Artists, she can switch on, switch off, for no apparent reason, just demons in her head, in her heart, in her soul. An then, booom, back on, the switch goes….

“I’m the Problem, I’m the Solution,” she smiled softly yesterday after her match against Joshana. So, what was she going to be today, against the quickest shooter in SquashTown, Miss Amanda The Flash Sobhy?

From 3/3, finding the ‘no pressure/all kills/volley drop shots’ American (well actually, I think she has dual nationality American/Egyptian, which explains her ability to kill that little black ball!) getting the lead 6/3, 7/5, 86, 9/7.

Already four unforced errors from Raneem at that point, and Amanda looking pretty good to be honest. But a bit out of nowhere, Raneem strings four points, closing the 10m game on her first game ball, 11/9.

Whatever Khaled Sobhy told his daughter at the end of the second, it worked! She zooms at 6/1 within seconds, rallies are very quick, 8/2, 9/3 and 11/4 in 6m.

Back to the drawing board for the Egyptian Clan. I say Clan as there were four advising Raneem …

The Egyptian has found her length again, and making the rallies longer, 1/1, 3/3, 4/4. At that point, I see that the American is taking a long time to receive the serve, her shot goes out of court, then she takes time again, a quick tin, and then she hits extremely hard to try and finish the points very quickly. It is obvious the weather conditions are getting to her, and even her trademark forehand boasts cannot stop Raneem, 9/5, 11/6, in 6m.

The fourth is as they say a formality, from 2/2, 3/3, Raneem scores the eight following points to reach 11/3, 5m game and 35m overall.

It’s not today that Amanda the Flash will reach the 60m mark….

We were playing in very hot conditions, it was tough for both of us, as we always train in air conditioned courts, so I'm happy to come out as the winner today.

In the second game things weren't going my way, I was not positive enough and I went a little flat. That's what happened in the last two tournaments, so I didn’t panic as such, but it was the alarm…

I was talking too much too much to myself and arguing back with my coaches, which you should never do ever. Yes I had four people around me. First one, my physio, he only asks if everything is fine, then doesn’t say anything else.

Then there is Tarek for support. Then there is my fitness coach stroke mental coach, who is the man I speak the most about everything that goes inside me, that’s the mental side of it, and the one who knows me the best, all the deep stuff inside me. And then there is Haitham for the tactical technical side of things.

Last time with SJ it was very close, it was in the British Open, I remember a lot of splits happening!!! But now she's much more solid now. But so am I.

Not my day today.

Still, such a privilege to play at this iconic venue & can't wait to be back!

[2] Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-0 [LL] Zahed Mohamed (Egy)
               11/2, 13/11, 11/9 (55m)


This is the kind of report I hate to write. Truly and utterly. But somebody’s got to do it.

It was such a weird match. First of all, how weird that Mosaad should play Karim Ali Fathi in the first round and then, in the quarter-finals, play the man that Karim Ali beat in the qualifying finals!  That's because Zahed got the Lucky Loser spot after my compatriot Castagnet had to forfeit due to injury, then played and beat Borja in the first round.

And to be honest, it looked like poor Zahed was completely out of his league, as in the first game, he didn’t seem to be in the match, Omar zooming to 7/0, one tin, 9/1, another tin, 11/2 in no time….

But one of the characteristics of Zahed – maybe not as flashy as other Egyptians – he never ever lets go. He is the Nick Matthew of Egypt really. He never loses a point. You have to win it from him.

Once he got used to the court – he had not played on it yet, Mosaad had - and the ridiculous pace Omar was imposing on the game, he just did what he does best: clung in, and hung in there, frustrating the heck out of Omar!

Omar was up 2/0, 4/1, back to 4/4, up 6/4, 7/5, 7/7, up 9/7, annnd 9/9. Zahed wouldn’t be shaken away and even got a game ball 10/9, a tin takes care of that.

Tie-break, so each player has one video review.

Another game ball for Zahed, 11/10, another tin, followed by another tin, 12/11, game ball Omar. Zahed is awarded a let, Omar wants a no let, video review, “yes let, decision upheld, Mosaad has no review remaining.”

We are still at 12/11, rally goes on, a no let against Zahed. Immediately, Zahed asks for a review. “You have no review remaining,” says the ref. “YES HE HAS,” I’m SHOUTING. “HE HAS A VIDEO REVIEW.” And I repeat myself, and again, and again! Zahed is arguing his case, his coaches are arguing his case. Nobody wants to hear and the game is lost.

Zahed doesn’t lose his calm, bless him, and he keeps fighting in the thid, which is as close at the second. Mosaad is having to play his A game to contain the Sporting Man, as Zahed is on the ball, retrieving everything and fighting on every shot, finding some lovely counterdrops and volley drops. 1/1, 2/2.

At 4/2 for Omar, Zahed gets a let, Omar wants a review, “yes let, decision upheld, Mosaad has no video review remaining."

4/4, 5/5, 6/5, now it’s Zahed turn to ask for a review when he is penalised with a stroke. Decision upheld, Mohamed has no video review remaining.

That’s sorted, no reviews left for either player.

Well, guess what. 9/9, a tin offers a match ball to Omar, 10/9.

Zahed plays an attempted kill, Mosaad appeals and a no let is given. Mosaad immediately raises his finger to ask for a video review - to which he is not entitled.

The review is allowed, and not only is the appeal upheld, the decision is completely overturned from a no let to a stroke !!!! Match to Mosaad.

I guess it was just bad luck, twice in the same match, you ask for a video review on game ball, are refused it when you are entitle to one, then on match ball, your opponent gets the match on a decision overturned he didn’t have the right to.

It’s not Omar’s fault in any way, shape or form!!!! And if things had been done correctly, it doesn’t mean that Zahed would have won the match. Incredibly, Zahed comment was " it's ok, Fram, I’m just learning...” I love my players

Still, after talking to both refs and management, we can safely say that technical hicups created a "system failure", and not "human failure".... It happens...


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