• El Gouna International Squash Open • 02-10 April 2015 • El Gouna, Egypt •



 

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TODAY at the El Gouna International 2015
06 Apr, Round One, bottom:
Last Sixteen are decided

The bottom half of the draw saw all but one of the expected winners make their way into round two, England's Chris Simpson creating the only upset as he came from two games down to beat an ailing fifth seed Amr Shabana.

Read on for the full reports ...

Movenpick:

Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-2 Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 
             8/11, 11/9, 11/9, 12/14, 11/8 (84m)
James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 Stephen Coppinger (Rsa) 
             4/11, 14/12, 11/7, 11/8 (59m)
Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-2 [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy)
            13/11, 8/11, 11/9, 3/11, 11/7 (67m)
Fares Dessouki (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Leo Au (Hkg)
           11/5, 11/4, 11/7 (34m)


Marina Glass Court:               SquashApp Match Stats

[6] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-0 [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (Egy)
             11/5, 11/2, 13/11 (49m)
Chris Simpson (Eng) 3-2 [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
             5/11, 7/11, 11/5, 11/4, 11/5 (57m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-1 Cameron Pilley (Aus)
              10/12, 11/7, 11/4, 11/4 (56m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) 
              10/12, 11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (50m)
 

Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-2 Nicolas Mueller (Sui) 
             8/11, 11/9, 11/9, 12/14, 11/8 (84m)

DARYL, IN THE END…

Those matches where you enjoy every minute of. “Let me ask you a question, did you enjoy it Fram? Cause I certainly did”. Yes. We all did. A full packed Movenpick was applauding both warriors, what a match, fair, intense, incredibly fast and varied.

In 5 years, bless him, Daryl’s game has come from not that fascinating border boring to fireworks in all corners. He varied the pace, the height, the angles, and put Nicki under so much pressure by volleying anything that was coming into his racquet. The Swiss did his best, but run out of options…

Basically, first game, Nicki dominated the rallies, despatching the shots and playing at the pace he likes, finding his winners in the backhand front corner, 11/8 in 15 long minutes. From the second on, Daryl got the match in hand with one single fact: he just redropped that famous backhand front corner, and took away Nicki’s best weapon. That for me is the key of the match…

Second is crucial, the Swiss was up 6/3, 6/6, 9/9, a very generous let for Daryl at 10/9, unhappy Nicki that loses that second having done 6 unforced errors. Too much….

Third, big work from Nicki who claws back from 3/7 to 7/8, but Daryl is truly giving his all, gets two game balls, 10/8, and wins it again on a superb drive length.

When the Englishman goes 3/0, it looks it’s over. Maybe that what Daryl thinks. Nicki wins 6 points in a row, and will lead then up to 9/7. Daryl comes back, 9/9. Daryl won’t be able to transform either of his 3 match balls, and Nicki gets a decider on a no let, 14/12.

It’s obvious to all that the Swiss is running on fumes, and can barely move. Daryl on the contrary, is feeling as fresh as you can be after such a match! England goes up 3/1, and big effort from Switzerland that finds his first game shots again, 4/4. 5/5. 6/6. With again astonishing rallies and great shot variations, Daryl will push Nicki to visit the court again and again and again, emptying his tank even more, eventually taking the match 11/8 on his 4th game ball of the match.

84m of pure joy…..

"I truly enjoyed it. And I promise you I would have said the same thing if I had lost. It was such a pleasure to play Nicki. We have now taken the opportunity to know each other off the court, and we are now good friends, and I think the respect we have for each other translated on that court today. It was such a hard match, physically brutal, and so enjoyable.

"We both played too many tins, he played too many, I played too many, but it came from each other forcing the other one to play like that, to go for more, to go closer to the tin. Because if you hit a good shot on that court, it’s very rewarding. And as you said, I’m very happy with my backhand drop shot today.

"It was always going to be a tough match, I’m happy to win it…."

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 Stephen Coppinger (Rsa) 
             4/11, 14/12, 11/7, 11/8 (59m)

JAMES GETS MOVING

A slow start for Gentleman James – after 30, I’ve seen that in a lot of players, except Nick who just gets physically stronger!!! – but after losing the first game, his movement became stronger and better, and he took more and more confidence in his stretch.

I was impressed also with the quality of short shots from Cops, who has added that layer to his game, under David Palmer’s guidance no doubt. It was very close indeed, maybe the South African didn’t vary the angles enough, hence not twisting James enough. But hey, what do I know…

I am used to playing a lot of match during events, getting to semis and finals, but now, I’m only doing first rounds, and there are two, three weeks in between, not that I am complaining, it’s far more than I ever expected. But it’s a bit of a shock to the system to get used to the squash pace again, and it doesn’t matter how many training you do, you just cannot replicate it.

I was able to warm outside, which is very good for the joints, warming up in such a warm environment, but then you go in, and it’s air con! Which has to be, to keep the court cold, but it’s again difficult to get moving!

So I am losing the first game at the moment, he got going at a pace I just couldn’t follow as well. It doesn’t bother me, as long as I can get going, I guess it’s part of the territory for a while. But it’s all massively rewarding, as if I was not moving well at the beginning, I got better as the match went along, and I got thrilled…

I’m happy with the way I played, I haven’t enjoyed playing a match like that for a long time, happy with having no pain…

Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-2 [Q] Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy)
            13/11, 8/11, 11/9, 3/11, 11/7 (67m)

KARIM READS ABOU’S GAME….

Those two are very good friends, and train at least twice a week, and that for a long time now. They know each other’s game, and today, Karim was able to anticipate so many shots and to get on the ball so fast he never let Abou relax.

Of course, Abou HAD to waste a game, that was the first one, where I counted 8 unforced errors, and I probably missed a few as I was writing James’ report as the match started…

Such a shame that such a talented boy throws away his gift like that. I know a few players that would sell their grandmother to have the soft hands he has….

Anyway, after a wandering around the fairyland, Abou was back, and dropped the errors to a minimum, 3 in the next game, a very close all the way game, 11/8, with Karim this time wasting his talent, 5 tins.

The third, excellent start from Abou again, 4/1 5/2, but patiently, accurately, Karim came back, 6/6, 7/7. A tin and two strokes later, game ball, 10/7, to take the game 11/7.

The fourth “nearly” happened, 6 minutes, 11/3 for Abou… Go and figure.

Having asked the central ref if he could change the ball, and being replied he couldn’t unless they both agreed, Karim went back on court, and hit the ball harder, and faster. From 3/3 he went to 7/4, 8/6, 9/7. Thanks to 2 unforced errors from his opponent, Karim closes down 11/9, in just more than an hour….

We know each other’s game pretty well, we train in and out every week for a long time, and we are very good friends, it’s so hard to play Abouelghar.

For those who don’t know him, he is very very talented, and if you play any loose shot, he will kill you in one shot. So you have got to be focus at all times, play at a good pace, prevent him from volleying at all cost!

He played very well today, I didn’t play my best, and he was ahead in a few of the games, I had to play catch up a lot, and it was hard to come back.

In the 5th, I gave it a big push, tried to play my best game.

Karim Abdel Gawad

 

[6] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 3-0 [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (Egy)
              11/5, 11/2, 13/11 (49m)

KARIM, ANYTHING BUT THE SINK!

Brave effort from the Egyptian today, who never lost heart, even after losing the second game 8/0, 11/2 in 7m.

He came back firing, and gave it a real effort, taking the game to his opponent, leading 6/2. Unfortunately, he had to go high percentage to get there, and then made four tins in no time, allowing Miguel to come back in the match, scoring six points in a row.

Still, Karim didn’t give up and managed to get two game balls and only bowed 13/11. The last game lasted 24m, credit to the hard work those two produced today.

To be noted that Miguel retrieve everything that Karim threw at him, like clockwise, and play spotless squash, making only two unforced errors the whole match.

"Playing an Egyptian in Egypt, they are all very dangerous so I was very weary of him!

In the first two games, I played very well, especially in the second game, where I didn’t make any errors. In the third, it was very close, but I didn’t want to struggle in the first round, like 3/1 or 3/2, because I am top seed 8, and I want to take this opportunity, so I really worked hard not to lose that third.

I think I was more used to the glass court than he is, that made the difference probably.

I’m so happy to be here, this is my favourite place on the tour, and I want to do well here, especially as I lost in the first round last year against Shorbagy, and that I am here with my mum and dad"

Chris Simpson (Eng) 3-2 [5] Amr Shabana (Egy)
              5/11, 7/11, 11/5, 11/4, 11/5 (57m)   SquashApp Stats

SIMPSON THROUGH, SHABANA INJURED

It was an excruciating sight to see today. The Prince of Egypt was cruising away, having taken the two first game in 13 and 8 minutes respectively, having scored nine points in a row from 0/3 down….

But at the start of the third, he started feeling his back. Going down 5/1, he fought to try and come back, but he couldn’t finish the game properly, hitting the last two shots into the floor.

He let the fourth go, and asked for the physio at the end of the game, but of course, it was not enough to repair the damage. He did try until the end, and Chris bless him, played his part to perfection, never losing his concentration, always the hardest to do when you play an injured player.

Such a shame to see one of the most loved players in the world go out that soon in the tournament. Let’s hope he’ll be the only one we lose tonight.

"After the second game I thought that was going to be one of my worst ever defeats to him," said Simpson.

"But I'm not sure what even happened after that. I managed to get some long rallies in and he seemed to lose a bit of interest which worked in my favour and I'm incredibly happy to win that match.

"Amr has been my idol since I first started playing and it's very hard to get over the respect you have for someone like that and be competitive but I managed to do that and it's a strange feeling for me to get a win over him."


SquashApp Match Stats

[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-1 Cameron Pilley (Aus)
              10/12, 11/7, 11/4, 11/4 (56m)   SquashApp Stats

GREG, BETTER AND BETTER

It’s often the case for top players, they seem to be a bit slow getting into a tournament, and they get better as the event unfolds. Well, Greg did that within a match…

As he always does, Cameron came off blasting with all guns, playing superb hard hitting – he loves that glass court he does – and finding some excellent length. He didn’t make a single unforced error – and that was a long first game, 21m. Not much between the players, 3/3, 4/4, 6/6, 7/7, 9/9. If Greg managed to create a little gap at 9/7, it’s Cameron that will get the two game balls, 12/10.

And the tide turned, slowly, 4 tins for Cam in the second, 3 for Greg, same than the first, but that makes the difference, and this time, it’s Greg that creates the gap, 9/6, 11/7 in 9m. He’ll make even less errors in the 3rd, 1 for 4 to Cam, 11/4.

The 4th will be a harsh game for Cameron, who never stopped trying but just couldn’t get Greg out of his comfort zone anymore, and kept visiting the court, 9/1, 10/2 match ball, 11/4 Greg in less than an hour.
 

Cameron has got unbelievable shots, he surprised me a couple of times.

After the first game, I started to get a better length, the wind didn’t help in the first game, but it’s nice to play outside, it’s not too hot, I’m enjoying it.

He played much better against me than he did in Chicago, and I had to push quite hard to win that first round.

I had issues with my Achilles tendons, in both feet, and for a few months now, I arrived at tournaments without real physical preparation, because I was constantly in pain.

But now, we have found what the problem is, every day, I am taking care of it, to prevent it happening again. And for the first time for a very long time, I have been able to have two weeks solid training, without pain. That makes a huge difference.

So hard match tonight, against a tough competitor, happy to get through.

[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) 
              10/12, 11/8, 11/6, 11/6 (50m)    SquashApp stats

THE ARTIST TUNES HIS SKILLS

So funny to see Ramy coming back. He is like, well, imagine a laptop that comes back from the repair shop. They wipe the hard drive. Ramy, when he comes back after a long absence, is like a wiped clean hard drive. And as he plays with opponents, it’s like installing the programs and files missing. One by one.

With Marwan, he quickly reinstalled the “move your butt quickly mate” file, cause Marwan was playing the perfect tactic, as in, playing as fast and as hard as possible in the four corners, twisting and turning the Artist to the max, and making sure he couldn’t settle or have time on the ball.

It took Ramy about two games to download the file. Marwan was truly playing out of his skin, not many length, but that was not the point at the time. It was fireworks, Ramy keping his errors to a minimum, quite unusual for him at that stage of a tournament.

Marwan took the first game 12/10 on his second game ball, but Ramy didn’t have his “bad days” face. He was actually excited to be on there. I could see the neurones buzzing up there while the files were getting installed.

By the end of the second, 11/8, Ramy had his “I’m happy to be here, I’m having a great time, and I’m enjoying this sooo much, please, Marwan, can we play some more please” smile.

Then he added the “What about some length” file. That was in the 3rd game. By that time, Marwan was lacking a bit of it actually, and he was also getting tired. Because playing faster than Ramy takes an awful lot of energy, and especially when you try to surprise Ramy as well. He was starting to run out of options. Plus Ramy was now used to his pace again. And reacting to it. At the end of that game actually, Marwan threw his racquet at the back of the court, as in to catch the ball as he couldn’t get there fast enough.

And the racquet stayed there. Symbolic.

In the fourth, Ramy had found the “let’s play some nicks then” file. 5/0. 8/2. 10/3 match ball. A bit of nerves creeping in, while Marwan just let go of his arm, and finds some sublime winners, that Ramy cannot put his racquet anywhere near on. Reminded me the final of Qatar, when Ramy got match balls, and Mohamed just clawed back to force a tie-break… But the lead was just too much and finally, the Artist leaves the stage, 11/6.

Superb play from Marwan. Welcome back Ramy.

First of all, it’s great to be back here and playing in Egypt again. I have been counting the days, you know. Since the Worlds in Qatar, I enjoyed it for a couple of days, and then, I had to starting thinking about the meniscus, and the surgery, because of course, the Worlds didn’t help, and it had gone really bad.

So surgery, then calorie counting, I love doing that…

Being back in Egypt, it's a big deal for us, El Gouna is such an amazing venue, such a beautiful place and we're proud to have such a world class event taking place here. It's a just a privilege to be competing.

I'm coming back from a brutal period in my life with injuries. It’s like a big challenge between me, myself and the injuries. It’s ok, I have been doing this all of my life since I’m 14. I will keep on fighting. Because there is no other option. The other option would be to be alone in my room, feeling useless. So fighting is the only option.

For the past four months, I have been following the Tour on SquashTV, so I saw how Marwan was doing well at the minute. He is a tough competitor, I had to be on my toes at all times. I knew it would be tough match. He gave me a hard game and I'm happy he pushed me that way.

Funny, I was a little off at the start of the match, I was lost. I had a lot of things to think about, the match, managing the injury, and I was a bit like if I was coaching him at the beginning like, oh, nice shot, or how did he do that??? I didn’t remember that being THAT fast…

So I had to keep reminding myself, COME ON, you are a COMPETITOR. But I didn’t have such a great time for such a long time. It all happened so quickly….

What a journey. It begins now…

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