• El Gouna International Squash Open • 10-18 April 2014 • El Gouna, Egypt •

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TODAY at the El Gouna International ...
Mon 14th April, Day FIVE - Round One, Bottom

Another eight matches today, four at the Movenpick and four on the glass court at the new marina as the last sixteen are decided.

There was plenty of home interest again, with another five Egyptians, led by defending champion Ramy Ashour, making it through to the second round.

Read on for the full details ...

Round One, Bottom Half:

Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 3-1 [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)  9/11, 12/10, 11/9, 12/10 (72m)
[6] Karim Darwish (Egy) 3-1
[Q] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)                11/6, 8/11, 11/4, 11/8 (53m)
Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-1
[Q] Max Lee (Hkg)                               11/6, 10/12, 11/7, 11/5 (64m)
[4] Borja Golan (Esp) 3-1 Adrian Grant (Eng)                       13/15, 14/12, 11/6, 7/0 rtd (79m)

Simon Rosner (Ger) 3-0 [Q] Grégoire Marche (Fra)                              11/7, 11/6, 11/8 (41m)
[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 Olli Tuominen (Fin)                                   11/9, 11/8, 11/6 (37m)
[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) 3-0 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)                       11/9, 12/10, 11/7 (46m)

Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-2 [Q] Fares Dessouki (Egy)             11/9, 13/11, 9/11, 7/11, 11/5 (74m)

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Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) 3-1 [Q] Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy)
             9/11, 12/10, 11/9, 12/10 (72m)


Well, if I had a few doubts beforehand – two big boys on a traditional court – I can honestly say that I enjoyed this match immensely. Both with the same style of game, hit hard, move fast, look for corners. Omar has got a few more shots maybe, but makes more errors, and can get excited on the important points. LJ, his shots are less flashy, but less tins as well, and he never loses his cool.

It’s the kind of match that need excellent referring. Anything less will generate in a fistfight. But thanks to John Masseralla’s team today (that include a local ref that was superb, Mohamed Elseiy), not a trouble in sight. Yes, a few contact, more than a few, but those two are MASSIVE and play at a ridiculous pace, twisting and turning each other every shot. And if we have a few Football Queens on the PSA circuit, today, we had two great Rugby players, as if, it’s only if you break two legs that you show pain or complain…

Best way to describe the match is coming from Basma, Shorbagies’ mum. “Win quick, Lose Quick”. Exactly. A very “Egyptian Squash”. Loved it.

The two players were playing a very physical game, fast and furious, every single rally. Looking for the corners, both at the front and at the back. Explosive. Inventive. Accurate. Powerful. This is the kind of match Squash needs. Two Warriors, both playing their best, but not one inch of nastiness, block or unfairness.

You only have to read the score to see how close those two were. As we are already in the middle of the following match, I can’t dwell on it, but it’s a match I would have come a long way to see. Merci à vous deux.

Yes, I guess we have similar type of players, but I think I’m maybe a better mover, and I have a bit more experience on the important points.

You would expect some bouncy conditions, because it’s warm, because it’s Egypt, but not at all, the court is really dead at the front, and it encourages you to play a very attacking game, a very “Egyptian Game” as you said.

It was my first time playing Omar, and today, my goal was to keep calm at all times. And I’m happy, as I did, especially on the crucial points. It was like 8/8, and then going very fast, very quick points. Nothing between the players, and those crucial moments determined/influenced the outcome of the match…

[6] Karim Darwish (Egy) 3-1 [Q] Ali Anwar Reda (Egy)
        11/6, 8/11, 11/4, 11/8 (53m)


If the former World number one is not having the greatest of times on the PSA circuit, and looked a bit not that keen in the second – to the point I said to Reda’s coach that he didn’t seem very hungry for victory today – Karim showed some pretty good “left overs” in the next 2 games!

He forced his opponent to get one more shot, and one more, in the four corners, until Reda would make the error. Of course, Reda found some beautiful feathery attacks, but Karim overall was just superior in the rally construction.

“I just don’t want to lose. Not in Egypt. Not in front of my wife and son”.


Overall, this season hasn’t been that great as far as my squash is concerned, I have a new job at Wadi Degla and other projects I’m working on. But I want to give it one more push, I don’t want to go losing to everybody…

Today, Reda played very well, he was very accurate, in particular on the backhand, so precise. So I had to make sure I move him around a lot. But he still got me in the second.

I know I’m not training as much as I should/did, but I still don’t want to lose. And especially not in Egypt, and not with my wife/baby around.

I played well today, but it’s a matter of consistency…

Karim has had a couple of bad losses recently, and I could see today he didn’t want to lose.

I’m pleased with my tournament, I hope I’ll play better next week in Switzerland.

Just want to stress how great it is to play against Karim, we are all learning from playing against our top players…

Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-1 [Q] Max Lee (Hkg)  
                11/6, 10/12, 11/7, 11/5 (64m)


If the previous match was quick and intense, this one was intense AND long. What Max retrieved today is pure amazing. The shots he found as well were superb. He is improving beautifully, coach David Palmer will be pleased.

First game, Mosaad was all over him, but in the second, it was close all the way, still, Mosaad 10/8. Max, not having that, clawed back and won the game 12.10, with two sublime long back hand drop shots. Games were one all.

Coming back in the 2nd plus the hard rallies took its toll on Max at the start of the 3trd, 5.1 to Mosaad. He tried and come back 5/6, but Omar found a good combination of twist and turn, taking the third 11/7.

Fourth again, excellent start from the Egyptian 5/1. This time, not much left in the tank for Max, and Mosaad tranquil till the end, 11/5.

I played Max in the worlds in Qatar, so I watched the video, and based my tactics on that. But he has improved so much in a few months since he is working with Palmer, his basic game in particular. So I was playing very fast, but in fact, I had to calm the pace down in the 4th, and that’s what was the right tactic…

If I was comfortable in the 1st, at 10/8 in the second, my mind wandered and I thought, ok, I’m 2/0 up, and going to serve for the 3rd. Big mistake! He played really well, and rallied really well too, in particular on the backhand.

In the fourth, I really want to close it, I played a bit too fast at the front sometimes, but I really attacked and volley more, having slowed down the pace.

I’m very happy to be through to the 2nd round…

[4] Borja Golan (Esp) 3-1 Adrian Grant (Eng)            
               13/15, 14/12, 11/6, 7/0 rtd (79m)


Another very intense match between Borja and Adrian. If Borja I think is feeling the pressure of being the favourite instead of the contender. It’s like he feels he’s got to win every single shot. If he doesn’t, he just puts even more pressure on himself…

On the other side of the rind, we have 33 years old Adrian Grant, nothing to lose, and playing at his best.

Result, an excellent match, nothing between the players and speed/intense pace. Adrian clinched the first one, and had 3 game balls in the 2nd. Borja gave it a big push and took it on his first game ball…

From the third, Borja seemed to have taken the better of Adrian, which was logical after the hard work they both produced in the first two games. But the Englishman told me that it’s from that point that his old injury – contracted in Delhi at the Commonwealth Games, and flared up during his match against Marwan a few days ago – just reappeared and was getting worse to the point the Englishman decided to throw the towel in the 4th.

I’m a bit lacking in match fitness at the moment, I didn’t play recently, so I can feel it. Plus, since I arrived, it was difficult to get court time, only 20m per day. So, difficult to get used to the court.

Not easy to get used to the court, a lot of balls in the middle. But I’m happy mentally I stuck in there in the 3rd, I was game ball down (3 actually), and I still won the game. Very happy with that.

Tomorrow, I hope I’ll play better, I hope this match and a bit more practice on the court will give me a bit of confidence.

 Simon Rosner (Ger) 3-0 [Q] Grégoire Marche (Fra)
               11/7, 11/6, 11/8 (41m)

Rosner in charge

Germany's Simpon  Rosner opened proceedings on the glass court with a solid three-nil win over French qualifier Grégoire Marche.

Today the conditions were warmer than yesterday, it’s not as windy as well. But I struggled a bit to see the ball. We practiced on it this morning, but it was 11am, plenty of sunshine, you have got to guess where the ball is going obviously.

So tonight, I felt like we were both making a lot of unforced errors, I guess that normal struggling in the first round, getting used to the conditions, and getting the body in tune with the event.

Not his best match probably, not mine either, but a win is a win, glad to get through in 3, especially as last time we played, it was here actually, 2 years ago, I was down 2/0 and came back to win, very tough match indeed, so very happy to get through.

In those tournaments, you really have got to at the same time take one match at a time, but also, try and keep energy for the next round. Not easy…

I was really not at my best today, not sure why. I kept opening the court, and when I have the opportunity, I just gave it away by making far too many errors. Very frustrating….

[2] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 Olli Tuominen (Fin)
                       11/9, 11/8, 11/6 (37m)


A bit of a slow start for Ramy, as ever. He was like “smelling the court”, taking his marks, and getting used to it all: court, ball, Olli, the crowd, his body, his demons. Check, check, check….

Olli was just playing his hard and low game, oblivious to any kind of distraction. Hitting very accurately, at his usual ridiculous pace, and surprised/wrong footed Ramy several times indeed. Excellent match for the 34 years old Finn.

As for tactic, apparently, Ramy was told between games to keep it long and not to go for too short. Yes, as Ramy didn’t touch the back wall for two games, I guess it was a bit of an obvious coaching, even I was telling him in my head! “Well, Fram, those guys had done such a hard job cleaning it, I didn’t want to mess it up”, Ramy joked.

Still, his short game was working very well, and he was able to impose it to Olli, who never as ever, never did anything wrong. Ramy was just finding shots that well, only him can think of and execute…

I find it very difficult to play anyone in the first round, not just the top players, anybody! I mentally had to push very hard today, because Olli is such an experienced player, and can string points. So I had to keep on my toes and completely focused at all times.

One of the only advantages not to have a rest day is that you have been able to test the court and watch the others play, so I knew the court was going to be very bouncy…

Olli played very well, really pushed me hard, he’s got a lot of deceiving shots, so happy to get through in 3 games, I find that the first round match is actually mentally more difficult sometimes than the final…

So grateful to the sponsors and to Amr Mansi to get this event back. He has done a wonderful job, and is always trying to make squash look good in Egypt. It’s good for my country, especially in those difficult times.

[5] Amr Shabana (Egy) 3-0 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
                      11/9, 12/10, 11/7 (46m)


I’m not sure why but I found it very difficult to concentrate on that match. First, there was a lot of noise around me, kids chatting, and it was a bit distracting. Then a few people that kept seating in the stand, then off during rallies to take pictures, and back again during rallies. I had to stop somebody from smoking in the stand next to me.

Of course, the kids running in front of the court and behind the glass wall, both Egyptians and tourists. You add to that Shabana that was clearly unhappy – and with reason sorry to say – with the amateurish refereeing, and you have a Fram that loses the plot and the will to report/live.

Oh well, there is another match right after. So… I guess I’m squashed out and need a walk on the beach at sunrise.

Who’s coming with me?

He is a very difficult player to play, I should know, he is my training partner, we live about 5 minutes apart, and train together 5 days a week!

So I wanted to play long rallies and take him to the back, but I can’t do that against him, he knows my game too well, that’s all we do when we play together, conditioned games!

So that tactic wouldn’t work with him at all, I had to do something that I don’t do in practice to try and surprise him….

All the games were close, it could have gone either way.

This year, the set up is a bit different, and I didn’t know how I was going to feel with the court being on the harbour, next to the water, but it’s really a great set up, the people that did the court worked really well.

I’m so happy and proud to have played in this World Series, my whole family is watching me on PSASquashTV, and that’s very important for me.

I really enjoyed playing in this atmosphere, and the venue is great.

I think what made the difference today is that fact I don’t get to play at such a pace in my club or even in Alexandria. I did a week training with Mohamed [El Shorbagy] and Miguel just before the event, but I need more of those! Today, I was short both mentally – focus – and physically.

But I’m happy with my performance, and I truly hope I get to play more matches like that, and one day, to be able to compete with these top guys…

Fares Dessouki

Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-2 [Q] Fares Dessouki (Egy)
            11/9, 13/11, 9/11, 7/11
, 11/5 (74m)


If you look at the information sheet that Howard Harding provided for us, you will notice that the lower ranked player is actually Fares. Fares, that pushed Tarek, number 12 in the world, to five.

He nearly made it as well, he was a bit tired at the end, but close… A few more good matches of this calibre, and he’ll be beating those top 10 guys…

Isn’t that scary? The worst of the list just took the top 12 to 5. When the players tell you there is no easy first round, do you believe them now?.

No, I don’t like to play 5 games, but it seems that I do that a lot at the moment!

Fares is a great player, and I really didn’t want to lose the first two games, as I knew how dangerous he is. So I really focused for those first two, but after, I guess it backfired! I just relaxed at 2/0 up, and he started to play his best squash. He is such a skilled player, you just lose focus for a few seconds, and you’ve lost the game!!!

Mind you, maybe it’s working fine for me to spend more time on the court… At least I had a chance to get used to it for tomorrow!

I am effectively thinking seriously about consulting with a sport psychologist, as I think I may need to look at the few things. I may do that in the summer [after the wedding].

Day FOUR - round one top
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