champion Marwan ElShorbagy survived a huge scare from Mohamed Abouelghar
on day four of the El Gouna International Squash Open as he got his
title defence underway on the spectacular glass court at Abu Tig Marina,
which hosts the PSA World Tour Platinum tournament.
The Egyptian won this title last year, beating current World No.1 Ali
Farag in the final, but it looked like he was on his way out after just
a single match this time around. Abouelghar had never beaten his
compatriot on the PSA World Tour before in three previous attempts, but
he started the stronger of the two, and took the first game.
ElShorbagy came back to win the second and third with ease, but World
No.8 Abouelghar fought back. He eventually had two match balls in the
fifth game, but Bristol-based ElShorbagy saved both of them before
winning the match thanks to some fine attacking shots at the very end.
The win sends the defending champion through to the third round of the
tournament, where he will face Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller on Monday
“It was tough. It is always tough with Abouelghar. We have played so
many times,” ElShorbagy said.
“I haven’t beaten a top 10 player in a long time and Abouelghar has been
playing some amazing squash. I did not know what to expect because this
is the best he has ever played. He is on the way up and he now is in the
top eight. He is one of the most talented squash players.
“I think we both settled from the third game, I would say. It was a
tough match and I expected no less. To be able to win today, I am quite
happy with the result. There are a few things I need to improve for my
next match, but it is just good to get into the tournament with a win
Also on the glass court, Marwan’s older brother, World No.2 Mohamed,
overcame a tough challenge from Hong Kong’s Max Lee, but the former
World Champion advanced after a four-game victory to get his attempts to
win a second El Gouna International title under way.
in today’s action, Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez had to come from two
games down to overhaul Germany’s Raphael Kandra at the El Gouna Squash
Rodriguez had beaten Kandra in two of their three previous meetings –
including in the semi-finals of last year’s Allam British Open – but
Kandra got the win the last time they played in September’s China Open.
The German played some high-calibre squash to go two games up at the
Squash Complex, saving a game ball in the second. World No.7 Rodriguez
was able to impose himself more on the match though after that point as
he ramped up the pace and picked up all of Kandra’s shots at the front
of the court as the German lost his basic length hitting.
After levelling, the ‘Colombian Cannonball’ made the most of a great
start in the fifth to go two match balls up. Kandra fought back to level
but, to the disappointment of the German contingent in the crowd,
Rodriguez found his winning shots to complete an 8-11, 10-12, 11-5,
11-4, 12-10 victory.
“I didn’t start very well, he did though. He really played his best
squash there, so from that point on, I changed my strategy,” Rodriguez
said after the match.
“Instead of going with a slow pace, I increased it and made the rallies
longer. He seemed to give up mid-game. I realised he was probably going
to be back fighting in the fifth, which he was, and I was ready for it.
“I had lost to Raphael in Shanghai, so I’m happy with the win. Today was
not physical as much as it was mental and tactical, the ball was very
bouncy, and you had to find the right pace to get the ball in the back
Mueller also survived a five-game battle on day four, as he overcame
Scotland’s Alan Clyne in a match that lasted over an hour. Egypt’s Karim
Abdel Gawad, Fares Dessouky and Omar Mosaad are also through to the last
16, along with Mexico’s Cesar Salazar.
the women’s draw, Egypt’s World No.2 Nour el Sherbini is into the third
round after beating compatriot Yathreb Adel in straight games on the
The pair had only met twice before on the PSA World Tour, despite having
both turned professional in the early part of 2009. The first game was a
scrappy one, with neither player able to find any momentum, but El
Sherbini was able to pull through in the end to take an early lead.
But El Sherbini, who won her second World Championship title back in
2017 on this very court, followed that up with a win in the second game,
but that came much tougher, as Adel held a lead for much of the game.
However, El Sherbini was too strong for her compatriot and will now take
on Egypt’s Nadine Shahin in the next round.
“Playing Yathreb in the second round is a very tricky match. We have
been playing for a long, long time. I can’t describe how long we have
been playing against each other,” Sherbini said after her win.
“It was a tough first round, but I am happy with the way I played and I
am happy with my performance. I am trying to get back in the mood after
the DPD Open. It was a very short couple of days between them but it was
a good start and hopefully it will keep going for the rest of the week.
“Gouna is always special and unique and I love being here. I love the
vibe and the people. Your family and friends come and watch you. It is
great being here and apart from the wind, the venue here is really
amazing. Everything is perfect for me and hopefully this year is going
to be another good memory for me as well.”
France’s Camille Serme won the first match of the evening on the glass
court, as she defeated United States No.2 Olivia Blatchford Clyne in
the Squash Complex, World No.30 Shahin shocked World No.10 Alison Waters
to earn her place against El Sherbini on the glass court.
It was a momentous day for the Egyptian, as she claimed her first
victory over top 10 opposition, and her first berth in the third round
of a PSA World Tour Platinum event.
“It’s one of my biggest wins so far, I’ve never beaten a top 10 player.
I was feeling really excited, and I played her once in Chicago two
months ago,” Waters said.
“I lost 3-0 really quickly, so I was determined to do better in this
one. I had to not lose focus, not even for a second. To beat someone
like Alison, you have to be determined, and you have to be 100 per cent
“I switched coaches, so for the last couple of months I’ve been working
really hard with my new coach, Omar Abdel Meguid, and I think mentally
I’m tougher and stronger. Even two months ago, I was not like this.”
Two other Egyptians are into the last 16 of the women’s draw, as Zeina
Mickawy and Nouran Gohar defeated Hania El Hammamy and England’s Millie
England’s Sarah-Jane Perry, Wales’ Tesni Evans and Hong Kong’s Annie Au
are also through to the third round after claiming respective wins over
Egypt’s Rowan Elaraby, Canada’s Hollie Naughton and England’s Julianne
The action continues tomorrow as the top half of the draw play their
third round matches across the two venues. Action begins at the El Gouna
Squash Complex at 12:00 local time (GMT+2), with glass court action
beginning at 18:30 local (GMT+2).
Matches from the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of
world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of
the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan).
Egyptian World No.1s Raneem El Welily and Ali Farag have both made it
through to the third round of the El Gouna International Squash Open
after winning on the spectacular glass court at Abu Tig Marina.
Welily got the better of eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the
first match on the glass court this evening, winning the match in
straight games, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8.
The World No.1 had met the former World No.1 27 times on the PSA World
Tour, with their first meeting all the way back in 2001. David had won
two-thirds of the precious clashes – including a stunning comeback from
four championship balls down in the 2014 World Championship final in
Cairo – but Welily had prevailed in the last six. She did so again in
this one to advance to the last 16 of the tournament.
“I am really happy to have been on court with Nicol again. I was looking
at the head-to-head right before the match and we have played so many
times,” Welily said after the match.
“To play with her one last time, especially in Egypt, is an absolutely
fantastic feeling for me. This past month, I have been spending a lot of
time with her. We had an exhibition tournament in Birmingham and that
was a special week for me.
“I spent so much time with her off court, for the first time ever so
this past month has been really special for me, getting to know her a
bit better. It has been a long journey, and I am proud to have shared
some of it with her, at least.”
Also on the glass court this evening, World No.3 Nour El Tayeb got the
better of 42-year-old Rachael Grinham in straight games. The Egyptian
only needed 18 minutes to seal victory, securing her passage through to
the third round.
At the side courts – staged at the El Gouna Squash Complex – the big
shock came through Belgium’s Tinne Gilis’ victory over India’s World
No.16 Joshna Chinappa.
21-year-old Gilis will now appear in the third round of a PSA Platinum
tournament for the first time after she held off a comeback from the
Indian player to prevail 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 10-12, 11-4.
Their only previous meeting came in January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of
Champions – with Chinappa winning in straight games – but it was all
Gilis in the opening stages as she hit her marks early on to take a
The third game went the way of Chinappa as the 32-year-old controlled
proceedings, while she narrowly took the fourth on a tie-break to
restore parity. Gilis regrouped impressively though and a composed
performance from the Belgian saw her keep Chinappa at bay to cruise home
in the decider, earning her a spot on the glass court at the Abu Tig
Marina, where she will play El Welily.
is the first time ever I beat a top 20 player, and it’s probably the
best I’ve ever played too,” said Gilis.
“It was the same game plan as my previous match, slowing the pace down
as she is a hard hitter, and then attacking only when the opportunity
“I kind of knew what to expect as I played her in the second round of
the ToC and lost in three. I’m lucky I had my friends and family to
support me today, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Mariam Metwally came through a feisty
encounter with England’s Victoria Lust in the only other surprise
victory, while former World No.1 Laura Massaro required five games to
see off Gilis’ older sister, Nele.
New Zealand’s Joelle King, United States’ Amanda Sobhy and Egypt’s Salma
Hany were the other women to win on day three
World No.1 Ali Farag is through to the third round of the El Gouna
International after he overcame a stern test from Cameron Pilley.
The Egyptian, who is the reigning World Champion, got off to a good
start in the first, but the Yamba-native bounced back and had game balls
to win the opener.
However, Farag was able to save both, and turned the game on its head to
win it 14-12. He then took the second 11-7 to take a commanding lead in
The Australian continued to play well, though, and eventually got a game
on the board, his first in four matches against the World Champion.
Farag would win the fourth game to take the match, though, and move
through to the third round of the tournament.
actually think I started off well, and then the conditions were really
tough, so I think the experience played a role here and he knew how to
play them better,” Farag said of Pilley.
“I think I was slightly off the mark because the turnaround between here
and Holland was really short. The last person you want to play against
when you are slightly flat is Cameron because he can cut you off in the
middle of the court, and he did that really well in the first three
“Thankfully, I think, at the end of the fourth he got a little tired and
I think I took advantage of that. At all points [of the match] I was on
my toes because I know he is a tough competitor. He understands the game
really well. He is renowned for his hard-hitting but what people don’t
really appreciate is how clean he hits the ball. It is very clean and he
hits his targets every shot. It is not easy to play against him, but I
am glad I could pull through.”
The other men’s second round match on the glass court saw Tarek Momen
beat compatriot Zahed Salem in four games. The World Championship
finalist beat Salem in three quarters of an hour to move into the last
The big shock of the day in the men’s draw came at the Squash Complex
this afternoon, as England’s Adrian Waller overcame World No.18 Gregoire
The pair were meeting for the first time since 2016 – with Marche
winning on that occasion – but the Frenchman was unable to really get
into the Englishman this time round as Waller won 13-11, 11-6, 11-3 to
advance to the next round.
Waller will now appear in the last 16 of this tournament for the first
time and will play the winner of Germany’s Simon Rösner or England’s Tom
Richards, who will contest the final men’s side court fixture of the
“Me and Gregoire have played ever since we were young. We’re similar
ages, and I think it does help that I’m so familiar with his game
throughout the years,” Waller said.
though we haven’t played a in a long time, I still watch him. I stuck to
my old tactics today, was nice and steady, and frustrated him as much as
“I had to take the opportunities when they came, but the first game was
the biggest hurdle. I was up, he came back, then I came back again to
take it. That gave me the confidence to stick with my game plan to see
if he could come back and take it away from me, luckily he didn’t manage
to get me out of it.”
The rest of the men’s action saw No.5 seed Simon Rösner and No.7 seed
Paul Coll win their matches in three, with Joel Makin, Diego Elias and
Saurav Ghosal also moving into the last 16.
Second round action continues tomorrow, with the bottom half of the draw
in action. Play begins at El Gouna Squash Complex at 12:00 local
(GMT+2), with glass court action getting underway at 18:30 local, as
Marwan ElShorbagy begins his defence of the title he won last year.
Matches from the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of
world), Eurosport Player (Europe only)
Spain’s Iker Pajares Bernabeu and England’s Julianne Courtice secured
surprise victories against France’s Lucas Serme and Hong Kong’s Joey
Chan, respectively, on day two of the El Gouna International as the PSA
World Tour Platinum event continued at the El Gouna Squash Complex.
No.59 Pajares overcame the higher-ranked Serme to ensure that a trio of
Spaniards will line up in the second round of the El Gouna International
for the first time. 23-year-old Pajares is ranked 26 places below Serme
in the PSA World Rankings but put in a fine performance to win 11-8,
11-5, 11-7 and beat his opponent for the first time in his career.
Serme had won all four of their previous matches on the PSA Tour –
including a 3-1 win in the final round of qualifying 12 months ago in El
Gouna – but Pajares avenged those defeats with an accurate performance
to join compatriots Borja Golan and Edmon Lopez in the last 32. Bernabeu
will line up against former World No.3 Omar Mosaad in the next round as
he bids to reach the third round of a PSA Platinum tournament for the
“I’ve played Lucas four times on the PSA, and I’ve lost all of them,”
Pajares said afterwards.
“I’m happy to beat him in three today, I felt very confident today on
court, yesterday Borja and Edmon won, so that gave me confidence for
today as well.
“I’ve played Lucas around 10 times in all, including PSA and league, so
I’ve gotten used to his game. Having Edmon and Borja here supporting me
is always an extra bonus, when you’re playing PSA you’re normally alone,
especially if you don’t bring family or coaches with you. It’s going to
be my first time playing Omar Mosaad, I’m also going to play him in two
week’s time at the Wimbledon Open, and I think it’s going to be a good
pace. I know how he plays, and we’ll see how close I am.”
Fares Dessouky is also through to the second round after beating Todd
Harrity, having been granted a wildcard spot in the tournament as he
continues to make his way back from injury.
A torn ACL had seen him plummet down the World Rankings, falling as low
as World No.502 in January. The 24-year-old has risen back into the
world’s top 50 since then and now sits at No.42. The two-time El Gouna
semi finalist came through his first round match against Harrity with
relative ease winning out in 36 minutes to claim a third successive win
over the men’s United States No.1.
“I'm very happy with the way I played, it was a very tough match, and
the score doesn't say everything. It was tough physically as well, the
court was a bit bouncy, and I had to adapt my game,” Dessouky said.
“Being the wildcard is something good and new for me. This is such a
great tournament, I love it so much, and I love playing here. I'm
looking forward to playing well, but my goal nowadays is to stay
injury-free, to play well and to enjoy it.”
Elsewhere in the men’s draw, Alan Clyne shocked Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip
to advance in the other surprise result of the day, while compatriot
Greg Lobban is also through to the last 32.
Nicolas Mueller, Youssef Soliman, Nafiizwan Adnan, Cesar Salazar and Max
Lee also navigated their way through their first round matches today.
There was also a surprise in the women’s draw, as Julianne Courtice beat
Hong Kong’s Joey Chan in a five-game thriller to book her place in the
The pair had never met before on the PSA Tour, and the Englishwoman, who
sits 23 places below World No.17 Chan, claimed an 11-7, 9-11, 17-15,
11-13, 11-8 victory. Courtice’s reward for beating Hong Kong's No.2 is a
clash with Hong Kong’s No.1 Annie Au, with the pair set to face off on
the plaster courts at the Squash Complex on Saturday April 20.
feels great. I have been wanting a win against one of the top 20, top 30
players for a while now,” Courtice said after the win.
“I just felt relaxed going into this one, and obviously it was really
tight in the games, but I feel great in getting through. [I was]
definitely panicking. I probably took the third when she was ahead, and
she took the fourth after being ahead and me coming back. It was just
nip and tuck all the way. When we went into that fifth game I just told
myself to go for it.
“As soon as I got to 10-8, it is not a given to win. We had both had
game balls throughout the match, so I just thought I had to play the
next point and to get through it, and it just happened.”
Also in the women’s draw, Yathreb Adel secured her passage through to
the last 32 after she defeated South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller in
Adel, who sits at World No.18, showed her class throughout against the
South African, ranked 27 places below her in the world. Although Fuller
bounced back from an 8-2 deficit in the third game to send it to a
tie-break, Adel was able to take the victory and set up a meeting with
three-time World Champion Nour El Sherbini in the second round.
am very happy to be through today in three. Alex is obviously one of the
good players on court, and it is tricky to play her so I am happy to
come out with a 3-0 win today,” Adel said after her victory.
“She is quite fast on court so I just had to be more patient, rather
than just going for my shots all the time because she would get there
and get it back.”
There were also victories for fellow Egyptians Nadine Shahin, Rowan
Elaraby and Zeina Mickawy at El Gouna’s Squash Complex.
Millie Tomlinson, Olivia Blatchford Clyne and Hollie Naughton also
secured wins, against Ho Tze-Lok, Liu Tsz-Ling and Rachel Arnold,
The top half of the draw will play their second round matches tomorrow
starting at 12:00 local time (GMT+2), with the seeded players entering
the draw at this stage. The majority of matches will take place at the
El Gouna Squash Complex, while the likes of World No.1s Ali Farag and
Raneem El Welily will be in action at the glass court at the Abu Tig
Marina from 18:30 local (GMT+2) onwards.
Matches from the glass court will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of
world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of
the PSA World Tour (excluding Europe and Japan
World Champion Nicol David survived a scare against Egyptian wildcard
Jana Shiha on day one of the El Gouna International, PSA World Tour
Platinum event as she prevailed in a gripping five-game battle at the El
Gouna Squash Complex.
The top half of the first round action took place today, and Malaysia’s
David, a former World No.1, booked her place in the last 32 thanks to an
11-7, 6-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-8 victory.
Youth met experience as 17-year-old Shiha performed admirably in front
of her home crowd, and she twice came back from behind to level the
match before pulling ahead to 8-6 in the fifth to put herself on the
brink of a massive upset. But David, 35, dug in and used her experience
to come back to take the win, setting up a round two clash with World
No.1 Raneem El Welily on the glass court at the El Gouna Marina.
“I did what I could, I knew these youngsters are trying to take any
opportunities that come their way,” said David.
“I was playing pretty well, but then she found the windows to take the
opportunities and she played really well. I lost a bit of my focus on
the ball and my timing, and at the end I knew I had to really dig deep.
My focus came in at the right time, and I’m very pleased to win that
“I’ve been here before (staring down the barrel of a defeat) and it
takes a lot to get back. I had to see the ball and hit it, so that was
all I did. I was very pleased to come out 3-2 and win it in a close
match, but I really needed to fight.”
surviving in five games was World No.21 Emily Whitlock, as she came from
two games behind to overcome another Egyptian, Nada Abbas.
Abbas has been struggling with a foot injury since January, but she has
still been able to reach two PSA Tour finals in that time, and her
talent was evident in the opening two games as the 18-year-old
controlled proceedings at the El Gouna Squash Complex.
A 2-0 deficit seemed to kick Whitlock into gear, and she found a lot of
joy with some accurate backhand drops as she dropped just a solitary
point in the third. The Englishwoman kicked on from there to secure
victory in five games. The 25-year-old will play United States No.1
Amanda Sobhy in the second round.
“The last place I wanted to be was on a squash court, I just haven’t
been enjoying it, but I treated it like I was on holiday, a going to the
gym in the morning, chilling out in the afternoons kind of thing,” said
Whitlock, who celebrated her 150th win on the PSA Tour.
There were also victories for the Gilis sisters, World No.29 Nele and
World No.42 Tinne, who both won to book their places in the second round
of the tournament.
42-year-old Rachael Grinham and Egyptian Mariam Metwally claimed
respective victories over Scotland’s Lisa Aitken and New Zealand’s
Amanda Landers-Murphy, while there were wins for Danielle Letourneau of
Canada and Coline Aumard of France.
the men’s draw, up-and-coming Egyptian Mostafa Asal saw off Campbell
Grayson to secure his spot in the second round of the tournament,
winning 11-6, 12-10, 11-4.
17-year-old Asal, the World No.41, won the first 11-6, but there was a
lengthy delay in the second, as the Kiwi needed treatment to a cut below
his left eye. The delay lasted around 20 minutes, and when he came back
onto the court, the Kiwi put in some fine rallies to send the game to a
However, Asal managed to win the second, before going on to win the
third to secure the match, booking his place in the second round against
“I am happy today that I managed to work on my footwork and I managed to
play his game. It was tough but I am happy that I managed to win the
second game because he was a little bit tired, so I am happy that I went
through and I am looking forward to my next match,” the Egyptian said.
big shock of the day came through Edmon Lopez, as the World No.62
overcame Hong Kong’s Leo Au, who sits 38 places above the Spaniard in
Au had won both of their previous matches on the PSA Tour, but Lopez –
who only came into the draw on Sunday as a result of Ryan Cuskelly's
withdrawal – prevailed in an attritional affair to win the biggest match
of his career, winning it by an 11-5, 16-14, 11-13, 11-6 scoreline to
set up a second round match with India’s Saurav Ghosal.
“What made the difference today was the fact that I was strong
physically and made sure I prevented him from playing his lob/drop shot
game by picking up the pace as much as I could. It was hard for me
because I had to keep the pressure up, but I'm glad it worked,” Lopez
Fellow Spaniard Borja Golan also took victory in round one, along with
English duo Adrian Waller and Tom Richards, Egyptian maverick Mazen
Hesham and Australia’s Cameron Pilley.
First round action continues tomorrow, as the bottom half of both the
men’s and women’s draws kick off their campaigns at the El Gouna Squash
world’s best squash players will go head-to-head on the banks of Egypt’s
Red Sea between April 17-26 after the main draws for the 2019 El Gouna
International Squash Open were released today.
The El Gouna International is the penultimate PSA World Tour Platinum
tournament of the 2018/19 season, and an equal prize fund of $352,000
will be on offer across the men’s and women’s draws.
Men’s World No.1 Ali Farag will top a PSA Platinum event for the first
time and he will look to improve on last year’s runner-up finish to
fellow Egyptian Marwan ElShorbagy.
Farag, along with the rest of the top eight seeds in the men’s event,
receives a bye into round two, where he will play either Australia’s
Cameron Pilley or Egypt’s Tayyab Aslam.
Farag is drawn on the same side of the draw as Peru’s Diego Elias,
Canary Wharf Classic winner Paul Coll and compatriot Tarek Momen, the
latter of whom he beat in the final of the PSA World Championship final
earlier this month.
No.2 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy, the 2016 El Gouna International champion,
features on the opposite side of the draw alongside British Open
champion Miguel Rodriguez, defending champion and younger brother Marwan,
and former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad.
Former World No.8 Fares Dessouky and fellow Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim
have been named the men’s wildcards. Dessouky will play Australia’s Ryan
Cuskelly, while Ibrahim takes on England’s Adrian Waller in the opening
Reigning women’s champion Raneem El Welily tops the women’s draw and
could face eight-time World Champion Nicol David as early as round two.
David, a former World No.1, will retire at the end of the season and
will make her last appearance in El Gouna.
El Welily beat World Champion Nour El Sherbini to win the inaugural
women’s title last year, but the current World No.1 has a difficult path
to the final, with the likes of India’s Joshna Chinappa, Hong Kong Open
champion Joelle King and World Championship runner-up Nour El Tayeb
standing between her and a place in the title decider.
El Sherbini, who beat El Welily in El Gouna two years ago to win the
second of her three World Championship titles, is seeded alongside World
No.9 Alison Waters, World No.8 Nouran Gohar and World No.4 Camille Serme
on the bottom half of the draw.
Rising Egyptian talents Jana Shiha and Farida Mohamed, both 17, take the
women’s wildcard spots and will play David and Zeina Mickawy,
The El Gouna Squash Complex will host the first round matches on April
17-18. Matches will be split between the glass court at Abu Tig Marina
and the El Gouna Squash Complex between April 19-22. All matches from
the quarter-finals onwards will be held at Abu Tig Marina between April