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


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TODAY at the El Gouna International 2015
07 Apr, Round Two:
Quarter-finalists decided
as English quartet march on

After two days of first round action, all the winners were in action in today's second round, again split between the Movenpick and the Marina

While the home fans cheered three Egyptian winners in Omar Mosaad, top seed Mohamed Elshorbagy and defending champion Ramy Ashour,  England had four quarter-finalists to celebrate too, as Daryl Selby won a second consecutive marathon to down Miguel Rodriguez, followed in successive matches by Peter Barker, James Willstrop and Nick Matthew. ...

Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-1 Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
                11/4, 11/3, 9/11, 11/8 (64m)
[8] Peter Barker (Eng) 3-0 Max Lee (Hkg)  
               11/2, 15/13, 11/5 (46m)
Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-2 [6] Miguel Rodriguez (Col)
                 11/8, 9/11, 11/13, 11/9, 11/4 (105m)
James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 Chris Simpson (Eng)
               11/8, 6/11, 11/6, 11/6 (61m)

[3] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)
              6/11, 11/5, 11/5, 11/5 (62m)
[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
              11/8, 11/8, 11/3 (40m)

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-1 [Q] Mazen Hesham (Egy)
                8/11, 11/5, 11/6, 11/6 (45m)
[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 Fares Dessouki (Egy)
                6/11, 11/8, 11/7, 11/8 (59m)

Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-1 Saurav Ghosal (Ind)
                11/4, 11/3, 9/11, 11/8 (64m)


Bless them two.. A bit of difference in height/weight between Saurav and Mosaad! But what an entertaining game…

First two games, poor Saurav didn’t see much. Coming from playing at night on the open air of the glass court to an afternoon game on a very cold traditional cold, plus a change from the delicate touch from Tarek’s game to the Wild Power of the Hammer of Thor, in front of his home crowd, that took that adapting!!!

After losing the second 11/4 in 10m, the Indian had the beggle in the oven, but he took it out of there right in time, a stroke at 9/0! Basically, Mosaad shots were so powerful, Saurav couldn’t do much else then return, and opening the court so much that the Egyptian only had to kill the ball. 11/3 in 10m.

But Saurav is a clever b.. boy and truly got his act sorted. Improving dramatically his length and tactic, he surprised Omar and took the third, a very close game, 19m, 11/9, a lot of hard work done on there, with a few contacts, Saurav letting the refs know that his opponent could do more effort to get to the ball, and let him go through as well, with Omar stating he was doing all he could to get out of the way.

The fourth is the most disputed/intense, with a little too many decisions, and both players warned that Omar had to clear the ball better, and Saurav do more effort to get to the ball. But squash wise, a great game for us to watch, with Omar having to win the point again and again and again, while Saurav moved like very few players do indeed.

It all came down to one rally, 9/8 Mosaad serving, with sooo many attacks from Omar and soooo many saves by Saurav. It was magic, and Saurav only clipped his volley drop shot, his first error of that game, would you believe. A superb attacking backhand boast to finish and Omar is in the quarters for the 3rd year…

After wining the second, I probably made the error to relax and think I was going to have an easy match. I went for high percentage shots and took too many risks. Plus, he changed his tactic, and played more backhand length, that put me under pressure. I don’t know what happened at 8/6, I lost a bit of concentration I think, and he played some great shots.

After that game, I tried and changed my tactic, varied my game, my shots, instead of playing all the time cross courts, I made more drives, etc. Also I had to keep him moving, because his movement was so great today.

I was lucky at the end, 9/8, I played a long backhand crosscourt, but he anticipated it so well, and played a volley drop shot, that lucky me, just clipped the tin! That was such a crucial point!!!

Happy to be in the quarters, third time now, off to lunch, rest and see a bit more squash…

[8] Peter Barker (Eng) 3-0 Max Lee (Hkg)  
               11/2, 15/13, 11/5 (46m)


I know, as I talked to him after his great come back from 2/0 against Wan in over 80m, that our Hong Kong player was as overcooked as it comes poor thing from all the tournament/jetlag/long journeys. But hey, that’s what those players train for, and he had at least a day off yesterday, which made a bit of difference I think.

He didn’t have much action on the match in the first game, 11/2 for Peter in no time, who although came back from playing on the glass in the first round, had to adapt to the traditional today.

Max really found his groove in the second, pushing Peter the whole way, even leading 9/6 before Pete came back to 9/9. Max will get 3 game balls, but it’s Pete that takes it on his second, 15/13.

Of course, Max desperately needed that game, and Pete was very happy to be 2/0 up and not 1/1. The third was to be simple in appearance, the Essex boy going up 7/1 with his usual powerful/accurate squash, only to see Max score 4 points in a row. And when the Englishman got to 9/5 after a huge rally, he roared a “COME ONE”, that shows how not easy that match was, all credit to Max who really gave everything he had today.

It would be easy to say that I didn’t play as well in the second, but Max just played better squash, and lift the ball so much better. At times, I had the impression of playing Palmer again, that lift off the ball… Max is certainly on the right path, and I’m lucky he tinned a bit too many at crucial times.

All credit to Max, he lives in Hong Kong, he trains with Palmer in Florida, he certainly puts the miles in, and deserves to be where he is. As for me, happy to get through 3/0, especially with the tough conditions of having played on the glass court, going back to this one, to go back on the glass for the quarters.

And I so love playing in that weather, it’s so good for the body, we who have been on the tour for a long time we really appreciate the conditions…

Sad to lose 3-1 today. I was flat in the first two games and Omar
was very sharp. Happy I pulled it back but a little too late.


It was a brutal match, especially as I had a very tough one against Nicolas yesterday. And this is a big win for me, Miguel is top 5, and quite rightly so.

I think I was a bit unlucky in my draws as I got Nick 5 times in a row. I knew I was doing fine, because I was pushing him. But still, I thought that draw was a chance for me to show people that although I dropped out of the rankings, I can still play at that level.

Today, I hit my straight lines pretty well, I attacked as well, at the right time, and I played well, I HAD to play well.

"I was not really taking the opportunity I was opening up. I was holding back. I had to change something in the third.

It was a quality match, nothing exciting to watch I guess, but I hope the aficionados of the game will appreciate it. It just shows that you cannot attack at will when both players play accurate squash."

Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-2 [6] Miguel Rodriguez (Col)
                 11/8, 9/11, 11/13, 11/9, 11/4 (105m)


Daryl won a stunning match against Nicki yesterday, where his shot quality and his backhand redrop did a heck a lot of damage.

Basically, and you are going to have the short version as we are very late on schedule and I have very little time, I could write exactly the same report as I did yesterday. Shot quality and backhand redrop were the key today.

Miguel played extremely well, keeping his errors to 1 in the first 3 games, only to make more and more of them as the legs got tired and that he tried more and more high percentage shots to try and shorten the very very VERY long rallies.

Just to give you an idea, 21m, 19m, 25m, 20m, 10. You have the match right there.

Daryl was 95% of the time in front, and controlling, and despatching and sending Miguel in the four corners.

Front, back, front back, side to side. And yes Miguel is probably one the fittest players on the tour, but still, Daryl shot quality was such that the Colombian just couldn’t do much more than retrieving, losing his length, like the day before Nicki did.

And eventually, after running and running and retrieving and still finding some nice shots but only to be pushed in the back and in the front again and again, the Cannon Ball did tire down in the 5th.

No regrets for Miguel, I don’t think he could have done better than he did today. But hats to Daryl, who confirmed by his stunning performance against a top 5 player that he has not only a superb squash in his racquet, but that there is nothing wrong with his fitness.

Truly an amazing performance from Daryl, and a superb entertainment for the packed Movenpick from both players.

James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 Chris Simpson (Eng)
               11/8, 6/11, 11/6, 11/6 (61m)


My good people, I have good news. James is moving, retrieving and finding that accuracy and that variation in his shot selection that took him to number 1. It was pure joy to see him on court today. I strongly suggest that Vanessa, Logan and James move to Egypt as I think the warm weather suits the Yorskhireman’s game to a T.

In all fairness, it couldn’t be easy for Chris to back his match yesterday. He had all the adrenaline going, because yes Shabana injured himself in the first game, that’s a fact, and Xtray shows Shabs has a tear in the lower back that will take between 4 and 6 weeks to heal. But Chris still had to beat the man, who as we know, could still beat 99% of the players on one foot and playing with his right hand!

So backing it up today, adrenaline rushing through your veins, the mental drain afterwards, playing early afternoon when he finished playing around 9pm plus the change of court from glasscourt to traditional, that took a HECK OF A LOT OF ADAPTING!!!!

On the other hand, James was fit and ready, used to the court, having had a match the day before against Coppinger, a good 4 setter that gave him confidence in his body and game again.

Chris took a game to adapt, 11/8 in 11m, a little taken back by Chris who takes the game to him and gets a good start, 3/0 Chris, then 3/3, 4/4, 5/5, then Chris just gets in front and takes the second in the same time, 11/6.

From the third onwards, James was on fire. I don’t think many players could have beaten him today, his drives were glued to the wall, his lobs were dying nicely, and that was giving him a lot of time on the ball to adjust his volley drops. He took the 3rd, 5/0, a huge huge huge rally at 9/2, a little clip from Chris, 10/2 game ball. The Guernsey man will keep pushing, only losing 11/6 again in 11m.

The 4th, a big effort from Chris at the start, 3/1, but James is all confidence now, 7/3, 10/6, and match in 13m to finish, showing how hard those two did work to close this down.

[3] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-1 Mathieu Castagnet (Fra)
              6/11, 11/5, 11/5, 11/5 (62m)


The score might not reflect the hard work those two did today, as each rally was pricey for those guys, and they truly fought for each one!

Nick had a bit of a slow start – apparently, it was the same in their only meeting back in the British GP in December – against a very patient/more laid back can’t find Iceman Mathieu!

But if Nick made a few errors in the first game, he soon found himself controlling the rallies and despatching the shots from the second on, although he just couldn’t get rid of the bleeping frog! “He is like a moth, keeps coming back ! I thought I killed him at the end of the match, but he just kept coming back for more!”

Sue, Nick’s mum, compared Mathieu to a Boomerang. “Yes, my mum is an English teacher, she always find the right word! Much better word, thanks mum", smile Nick…

I don’t think I played too badly at the start, but Mathieu varies the pace so well, and he doesn’t go away! He is like a moth, keeps coming back! I thought I killed him at the end of the match, but he just kept coming back for more!

I think I did well in those humid, spongy conditions that I feel suits more his game than mine. And playing at 6.30 is a completely different game than playing at 9. And actually, if you put hardly any pace on the ball, you get more dividends, so it was all a question of knowing when to hit the ball.

The only time I played him was in the final of the British GP, and I had a very long semi against Greg, over 100m, and I was really tired. It took three quarters of the first game to get into it.

And although that time he didn’t win the game, and he did this time, there are a lot of similarities in the way he play and forced errors out of me.

I was watching the game today again, and I thought, right, this time, I’ll start from fresh, and it will be different. But it wasn’t! He varies the height and pace so well, hardly putting any pace on the ball, I have to force it a bit, and that’s how I made a few unforced errors.

It took me a while to find the right rhythm, and I eventually was able to stay on top, but controlling and winning against Mathieu are two different things! He keeps coming back for more! But what a nice match, there were what, three lets the whole match…

Tomorrow, Mosaad, that’s a completely different way of handling the pace!!!

[2] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 3-0 Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)
              11/8, 11/8, 11/3 (40m)

Gaultier in control

Second seed Gregory Gaultier is no stranger to taking on Egyptians here in El Gouna, and well aware of the dangers they pose, so there was no rush to finish as he took on Karim Abdel Gawad for a place in the quarter-finals.

The first two games were played at a patient pace, and there was little to choose between them until the Frenchman pulled away at the end.

In the first it was from 6-all that Gaultier pressed the accelerator, reaching 10-6 before finishing it off 11-8, then came from 2-5 down in the second, again taking it 11-8.

The third was quick, 6 minutes compared to 13 for the first and 17 for the second as Gaultier raced into a 5-0 lead then pulled away again from 6-2 to 10-2, finish the match on his second opportunity..

Physically, I am feeling really good, but the conditions tonight were so different from yesterday, it’s incredible. I’m playing with the same string tension, and yet, the ball felt like a tennis ball tonight, and I was struggling to handle the soft shots.

He is just a great player he has some amazing short shots, but I feel that I could have been a bit more aggressive at the front. He did surprise me a bit and I got a bit negative at the beginning.

I will have to improve for tomorrow, get my tactic right, keep my focus, I apologise to the ref, I lost a bit my concentration there, I shouldn’t be bother by anything else while I’m playing. So I have to make sure it doesn’t happen tomorrow.

Happy to do the job, and glad I won to get to the next round…

I like going very aggressive squash wise, but I know what if I was to put pressure on Mathieu, and use some fighting spirit, he would dwell on it, and enjoying far too much! So I tried and gave him as little pace as possible, keeping it “mou, mou, mou” “soft, soft, soft”, and avoid courtcross at all costs. And in the first game, I had some good length, and maybe I managed to get in to fall a bit asleep! And he made a few uncharacteristic errors.

But from that point on, he handle my pace much better, and truly attacked, and really got me tired. That’s when I starting opening the court and giving him too much opening. But overall, after I had a bit of a bad time with niggles in the past months, I’m quite happy with my coming back from 2/0 against Meguid, and of my performance against Nick tonight.

I was expecting him to come out fighting and I knew it would be tough. And it was.

He is a complete athlete, from inside, but also from outside. He is smart, very explosive, very hard to play. He’ll be top 10 very very soon.

I did well today against him, a little loss of concentration here and there but overall ok. The leg is ok, and the body is healing.

It's just great to be back and to be competing with all these amazing athletes on the Tour. All that thanks to the Promoter Amr Mansi, we are all grateful for bringing us back in this amazing place, so thanks to him and his team who has worked so hard to put this event together.

[1] Mohamed Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-1 [Q] Mazen Hesham (Egy)
                8/11, 11/5, 11/6, 11/6 (45m)  SquashApp Stats


If Mohamed got caught in Mazen's astonishing Wrist Magic in the first game – it takes some getting use to, I promise you – losing the first game played at a frantic pace, 11/8, and finding himself down 5/0 in the second, he soon got all the control back from that point onwards.

From 5/5 in the second game, he was able to predict the shots and be ready for them, hence counterattacking beautifully, and the pressure changed camp. From the third game onwards, unforced errors crept in Magic Wrist’s game, and Mohamed was able to finish the rallies quickly and efficiently.

Mazen had a superb match against Simon, it was truly superb performance. But tonight, Shorbagy was a step too high for the young man, who will have to make sure he can switch to a plan B when the plan A doesn’t function anymore… Rings a bell, Nicki and Tarek?

It’s funny, yesterday I was too tense, and today, too relaxed! I’ve got to find a right balance.

Mazen surprised me with his shots, he is playing very well, so in the second I made sure I upped the pace, but he is young, he is going to learn fast, and I’m happy I beat him one more time.

Yes, like I said yesterday, I was a tough time in Chicago, but I’m fine now, and hopefully, I can push a bit more in this tournament.

I want to say a special hello to a group of Polish people that came especially in El Gouna to support me, especially Rosana and her daughter Karina, 14, who trains with me in Bristol, and who will be a world champion!

And a big thank you to Amr Mansi, not only the promoter here, but he’s been coaching me in Alexandria, helping me, and here. Actually we were talking about the fact I need a session to fire my body up tomorrow… Thanks for the coaching today…

[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-1 Fares Dessouki (Egy)
                6/11, 11/8, 11/7, 11/8 (59m)    SquashApp Stats


Ramy surprised me. He always does. I don’t know you, but I just keep forgetting how different Ramy’s squash is from anybody else in the world. It’s so weird how each time I seem to rediscover how not fitting in any box he is…

Today, the Artist added the wiped file “I’ll play a nick on return of serve”. If yesterday, his return of serve were way below par a few times, tonight, he won a few free points there. Mind you, Fares returned the favour a few times too!

Fearless Fares lived up to his nicknamed today. He had absolutely no intention whatsoever to lose the match, and played a superb attacking squash from the first rally to the last. Very mature, finding superb length but also putting Ramy under tremendous pressure at the front, Fares impressed all of us. I’ve been saying it for a long time, but I’ll repeat it. I compare him to Shorbagy Sr, and we’ll soon have another Egyptian in the top 10, I absolutely adamant about that.

Ramy was never relaxed and comfortable out there really. He was often having conversations with his demons, who tonight were rather chatty and bubbly.

And he had to add a second file, the “I’ll have to retrieve all the shots that are thrown at me” file. That one was a heavy one, and especially useful in the 4th, when Fares started to really threaten Ramy again, taking the game to him beautifully.

Fares got truly frustrated with the calls that he felt went against him, although he never got confrontational, argumentative.

But I know him enough he was boiling inside. Still overall, it was a superb match, with the crowd enjoying and appreciating with “Bravo!!!” and “Great squash”. The Ladies in particular seemed to truly enjoy the game, and it was refreshing to hear a crowd so involved and having such a great time.

After a little delay on match ball, as Fares pointed out that Ramy little finger was a scratch after he threw himself – in vain – trying to get a straight drive, the Artist closed the match on a stroke, after losing the first game 11/6, taking the next three, 8, 7, 8.

Note to Ramy. For tomorrow’s game against James, you may want to download the “length & width” file....

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