Ali Farag, the 26-year-old from Cairo, delighted a partisan crowd inside
the Khalifa Tennis & Squash Complex, Doha, today as he defeated
Germany’s World No.5 Simon Rösner in straight games to win the 2018
Qatar Classic - marking his second PSA World Tour Platinum title
Farag’s defence of his maiden Platinum title win, the U.S. Open, was
crushed by Rösner last month when the pair met in semi-finals of the
2018 edition of that event, but the World No.2 earned his revenge with a
near faultless display to down Rösner 11-9, 11-7, 11-5.
It was the German who began the stronger of the two, getting the better
of Farag in the opening exchanges to open up a quick lead. But it was
short-lived as Farag began to nullify Rösner’s mid-court dominance to
level the opening game, and from that point on he went from strength to
strength to complete the win after 46 minutes.
“At the beginning I saw how crowed the venue was and the screams of the
crowd were crazy which made me nervous - it took me a little while to
calm my nerves down,” said Farag.
“The atmosphere was beyond my imagination. Nothing I’ve played before
was like that but mid-way through the first game I managed to settle and
get into my game plan.
tried to make sure that first game was long and that I wasn’t giving
away any cheap points. I was behind and I didn’t think I would win that
game, but coming through to win it made a huge psychological difference
“At the U.S. Open against Simon I became too passive, and if you do that
he will kill you on court. You have to find that balance and I was able
to do that from the second half of the first game all the way to the end
today so I am very happy.
very happy with the win, and with my week and how I backed up match
after match. And I’m really proud with the way I handled the whole
Speaking after the match, Rösner said: “He was the better player today.
I made a few errors - I hung in there, I tried very hard and gave
everything I could, but he was just too good - but he deserves the win.
I don’t have any regrets, getting to another final is huge for me.
Obviously, you want to get those wins, but at the same time, you should
be happy with what you have achieved.
“I have good memories from this court, last year I made the semis, this
year a finalist, who knows, maybe a winner next year.”
German World No.5 Simon Rösner and Egyptian World No.2 Ali Farag will go
head-to-head in the final of the 2018 Qatar Classic after prevailing in
their respective semi-final encounters against Peruvian Diego Elias and
Egypt’s Tarek Momen in the Khalifa Tennis and Squash Complex, Doha
Rösner, the 30-year-old based in Paderborn, enjoyed a career
breakthrough here last year when he reached the semi-finals at a
Platinum level event for the first time to usher in what was the most
successful season of his career to date. But he went one step better
this time around as he easily brushed aside a tired looking Elias, with
the 21-year-old struggling both mentally and physically to back up his
victory over World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy yesterday.
Elias looked flat from the off and Rösner, who finished runner-up at
last month’s U.S. Open - the first Platinum event of season - was quick
to grasp the opportunity and take control of the court to punish Elias
at every opportunity and complete an 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 win in just
had a tough match yesterday, and it’s very hard to pick it up the next
day,” said Rösner. “He beat the World No.1 to reach his first ever
Platinum event semi-final and it’s a lot to take in.
“I know what he is feeling because last year, I played my first
semi-final here and I literally got chopped so I feel for him.
“But for me, I’m playing my second Platinum final in a row. If you had
told me that two months ago, I would probably have laughed, so I’m very
happy. I will try and enjoy the moment tomorrow and play the best squash
“I feel like I’ve gotten better round-by-round this week and hopefully I
can lift it to another level again tomorrow. Making two finals in a row
is very special for me but there is another match to go and obviously
you want to win those matches, not just be there for the sake of it.
“Every final is special. I will put in everything that I have. I will
fight for every point and try to make the most of the chance.”
meanwhile defeated compatriot, and 2017 tournament runner-up, Momen in a
four game battle that saw them produce some sublime squash as they
traded the opening games tat-for-tat whilst battling for control of the
But, after losing the second, it was Farag who managed to gain the
ascendency to force Momen onto the back foot and accelerate away to
compete the win 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-4 and avenge his defeat to Momen in
the final of the Channel Vas Championships last week.
“It definitely wasn't easy at any point tonight, Tarek has been playing
some of his best squash recently and he proved that with the win last
week when he came from 2-1 down to beat me,” said Farag.
“He was better than me on the day then but today I had a different plan
and I think I executed it well, especially in the third and fourth
games. I feel like I’m playing better event by event as well so I’m
looking forward to tomorrow.
“Simon is playing the best squash of his career at the moment and he
obviously beat me at the U.S. Open so I’m looking forward to the
rematch. I feel fresh and I'll do all the recovery that I need to and
hopefully I'll be ready to fire it up in the final.”
The final will be played at 6:00pm local time tomorrow, November 2.
Diego Elias produced the performance of his career to defeat World No.1
and World Champion Mohamed ElShorbagy in a thrilling 76-minute,
five-game encounter to book his place in the semi-finals of the 2018
Qatar Classic and end the Egyptian’s defence of the PSA World Tour
ElShorbagy, a three-time Qatar Classic winner, has maintained a
stranglehold on the World No.1 ranking for the past three years but
Elias produced an inspired performance to storm out of the gates and
take the opening game courtesy of some sublime, patient squash.
Lima-based Elias, who alongside ElShorbagy is one of only four players
ever to win the World Junior Championship on two occasions, then managed
to fight back after ElShorbagy twice nullified his game-lead on the
scoreboard to come through an 11-8, 11-13, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7 winner and
set up a last four meeting with Germany’s Simon Rösner - in what will be
his first ever semi-final at a Platinum level event.
“I’m really happy to be into the semis of a major event for the first
time in my career and to do it by beating the World No.1 is special,”
“I have a big opportunity now and I don’t want to waste it so I will do
everything I can to recover for tomorrow and come back and do my best
against Rösner. It will be tough against him - we’ve only played once
before and he smashed me - but I’m feeling good and hopefully I can play
“I tried to take it point by point today and not get too far ahead
because I knew if I got nervous then I’d start going for stupid shots. I
just focused on what I had to do - at every opportunity I wanted to go
to the front and it was working. I’m really happy I managed to stay calm
and see it through in five.”
year after reaching the semi-finals in Doha for the first time in his
career, Rösner, the World No.5, booked his return to the last four with
a well-earned 3-1 victory over New Zealand’s Paul Coll while the second
semi-final will see Egyptian duo Ali Farag, the World No.2, and Tarek
Momen, the World No.4 and 2017 tournament runner-up, clash just one week
after they contest the final of the Channel Vas Championship.
Farag dispatched 2016 tournament winner Karim Abdel Gawad in
straight-games to book his last four spot while Momen was forced to
produce some of his best squash to halt the giant-killing run of Welsh
World No.33 Joel Makin.
Momen found himself one-game down as Makin replicated the kind of squash
that powered him to victories over World No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez and
former World No.6 Mathieu Castagnet in the previous round but the
Cairo-based player managed to turn the match around and come through
after 51-thrilling minutes.
is a machine - he’s spent so much time on court this week and I didn’t
think he’d be able to back up so much,” said Momen.
“He really exceeded my expectations and I had to pull out my best to win
today. I am just really glad to be through and that it didn’t go to five
because I know I need to recover well and be ready for the match against
“Ali and I have played a few times this year so I know what to expect.
He’s a good friend as well so we’ll just give it out best and the best
man will win.”
number one, and World No.33, Joel Makin will compete in the
quarter-finals of a PSA World Tour Platinum event for the first time in
his career tomorrow following his third round defeat of Frenchman
Mathieu Castagnet at the 2018 Qatar Classic - a victory that comes just
24-hours after the 24-year-old shocked Colombian World No.6 Miguel Angel
Rodriguez in the second round.
The Pembrokeshire native, competing in the Doha-staged tournament for
the first time in his career, has been in scintillating form so far this
week and followed up his first round 78-minute defeat of Rex Hedrick,
which preceded his 106-minute defeat of Rodriguez, with a 60-minute
victory over Castagnet that saw the Frenchman concede through injury
mid-way through the fourth game of their encounter.
Makin had been in control of the match from the outset, showing
impressive recovery and tenacity as he out-worked Castagnet during the
first two games. The Frenchman found his range in the third to get a
foothold on the scoreboard but pulled up at the mid-way point of the
fourth game to hand Makin safe passage to his first ever major
“To reach the quarter-finals for the first time is massive achievement,”
said Makin. “I hadn’t gotten past a first round before the start of the
season so to see the hard work that’s been put in over the summer pray
off so quickly is really pleasing.
“Obviously it is massive to be there for the first time and I’m excited
to be in the latter stages of one of the biggest tournaments on the
“There’s been no secret change, it just feels like the accumulation of
years of work coming together. I feel like I’ve been gradually
increasing my level and because of that I’ve been able to impose my game
and my physicality on court better so hopefully I can keep going that
“I’ve had a good few weeks recently and had some good results so I’m
looking forward to playing again tomorrow and seeing what I can do.”
Makin will go up against 2017 tournament runner-up and World No.4 Tarek
Momen for a place in the semi-finals after the Egyptian defeated former
World No.1 James Willstrop while another former World No.1, Karim Abdel
Gawad, the 2016 tournament winner, prevailed in a breath-taking clash
with rising English star Declan James to keep his tournament alive.
Gawad was pushed all the way by the World No.20 and was forced to come
from behind, and withstand a huge last ditch barrage, in order to
prevail and set up a last eight encounter with compatriot and World No.2
gave me a very hard time on there today - that was a very, very tough
match,” said Gawad.
“I think what made the difference was that I wanted to win so badly. In
the end he gave me a few unforced errors that gave me a confidence push,
and I think he dropped a bit physically. I saw that and I just kept
pushing and pushing.”
Gawad will take on compatriot, and World No.2, Ali Farag with World No.1
Mohamed ElShorbagy set to face Peruvian former World Junior Champion
Diego Elias in a compelling clash following their third round victories
over Adrian Waller and Mazen Hesham, respectively.
Lima-based Elias, the World No.13, was a quarter-finalist here last year
and showed signs of returning to some of his best form as he swept aside
Hesham - one of the most gifted players on the PSA World Tour - with
ease, prevailing 11-7, 11-6, 11-5 in just 36-minutes.
key today was the warm up - I had to be ready for him from the start
because he’s the kind of player who can send you five directions in one
rally,” said Elias.
“Last season, I got injured and lost in the first round of nearly every
tournament. But now, I’m feeling fine and it is always good to play the
World No.1 and challenge yourself so I’ll be ready for it.”
The other quarter-final will see Paul Coll of New Zealand face Germany’s
No.33 Joel Makin, the 24-year-old from Pembrokeshire, Wales, shocked
Colombian World No.6 Miguel Angel Rodriguez in a thrilling 106-minute
encounter to reach the third round of the 2018 Qatar Classic PSA World
Tour Platinum event taking place in Doha on a day of action that also
saw World No.2 Ali Farag and World No.10 Karim Abdel Gawad narrowly
escape second round defeats.
Makin pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career last week at the
Channel Vas Championship and proved that result was no fluke as he
out-hustled and out-played the tenacious Rodriguez, winner of the 2018
British Open, to secure his place in the third round of a major PSA
event for just the second time in his career courtesy of an 11-4, 6-11,
11-7, 10-12, 11-9 triumph.
He will now got up against Frenchman Mathieu Castagnet for a place in
the quarter-finals of the tournament and the rising star says he is
hungry to capitalise on the opportunity and go one step further than his
round of sixteen finish at the U.S. Open earlier this month.
“My first round match yesterday was tough but I felt like I got the win
last week (over ElShorbagy) out of my system in that match and felt like
I played much better today," said Makin.
"I knew I had to be so patient today because if you open the court up
too soon against Miguel he has such quick reactions and can hurt you
"I was just trying to slow the ball down and take the pace out of the
game. I had to be disciplined, and maybe it was a bit boring at the end,
but it was all about controlling the pace when I wanted it, not when he
"I feel like I’m getting good wins and getting close to reaching the
latter stages of tournaments at the moment. Today was a big ranking win
for me and one that could mean me going into the last eight, so I will
do what I can to try and make that happen in a few days because I want
to be competing day in day out with the top guys."
Castagnet secured his third round spot with a 3-0 win over Australia’s
Cameron Pilley while 2016 tournament winner and former World No.1 Karim
Abdel Gawad used his get out of jail free card to come from two-games
down to beat Malaysian former World Junior Champion Eain Yow NG 3-2.
NG had beaten local favourite Abdulla Al Tamimi in the first round and
picked up where he left off as he produced squash of the highest calibre
in the opening games to leave Gawad, the World No.10 from Giza,
searching for a way to stop the onslaught - which he duly found to turn
the match upside down and keep alive his hopes of winning the title for
the second time in his career.
do not become Junior World Champion if you are not very good, strong and
skilful and he made it a very tough battle for me today," said Gawad.
"I didn’t start positive, I was weak. But I used my experience today to
be tough on court and I'm very relieved to be into the next round -
where I know I have to play better."
Gawad will now go up against England’s Declan James after the
Nottingham-based player beat Karim Ali Fathi in straight games while
tournament second seed Ali Farag will face India’s Saurav Ghosal after
coming through a thrilling battle with compatriot Mohamed Abouelghar in
what was a match of the season contender.
For long spells Farag was powerless to stop the attacking barrage coming
from the racket of Abouelghar but his persistence and grit paid off in
the crucial fifth game when, tied at 9-9, he managed to sneak two
decisive rallies to escape from the clutches of defeat.
don’t know how I won that, I think I just got lucky at the end,” said
“He’s such a dangerous player, he’s so attacking, so dangerous, so
skilful. It was a very hard match mentally and physically, so I’m just
really glad to win. There are no easy matched at this level so I just
have to fully focus on my recovery now and come back and give it my best
The third round of the PSA World Tour Platinum event will be played
tomorrow, October 30.
No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy, the 27-year-old from Egypt, began his bid to
retain the Qatar Classic crown with a comfortable defeat of Hong Kong’s
Tsz Fung Yip to book his berth in the third round of the PSA World Tour
Platinum event currently taking place in Doha.
ElShorbagy, who is searching for his fourth Qatar Classic title after
triumphing here in 2013, 2015 and 2017, was in cruise control early on
as he swept aside World No.27 Yip in a dominant 11-3 opening game,
before quickly doubling his lead with an 11-9 second game.
But the man from Alexandria didn’t have it all his own way and was
guilty of a lapse in concentration which cost him the third game. Yip,
buoyed by getting a game to his name, then pressed ElShorbagy in the
fourth and at times had the hard-hitting Egyptian on the back foot. But
ElShorbagy managed to do just enough to stem the tide and prevail 11-3,
11-9, 6-11, 11-9 to set up a meeting with England’s Adrian Waller after
the 28-year-old scored a surprise upset over former World No.3 Omar
“That was the first time I’ve ever played against him (Yip) so I was not
sure what to expect but I know how good he is and he played very well,”
“He’s shown great potential and I think he will go up the rankings in
future for sure but for me, I have to make sure I stay positive for the
rest of the season. There are a lot of players out there that are
playing really well at the moment, so I have to stay hungry and
“When you have a hard day, you just need to stop and remember why you
started in the first place.
”I always have great results here in Qatar - I feel at home on this
court so I am going to try and do my best this week to enjoy my squash
and hopefully win another title.”
Waller, the World No.36 from Enfield, England, cruised to a surprise
last sixteen berth as he dominated 2016 World Championship runner-up
Omar Mosaad to record an empathic 11-0, 11-2, 11-5 win that saw him
restrict the powerful Egyptian to just seven points in total and record
one of the biggest wins of his career.
Speaking after the match Waller said: “I don’t know how I did that - I
was just concentrating on my game and the score took care of itself
“I don’t think Omar was at his best today but it was nice to take
advantage of the opportunity. I just tried to not let him into the game
and the lead in the second game allowed me to relax and loosen up which
gave me a dominant position.
“It’s great to be into the next round and it will be. Good test for me
to play Mohamed. It’s evident how good he is and especially here but
I’ll just give it my best and see what happens.”
Waller’s compatriot Tom Richards, the World No.30, also scored an upset
victory to book his place in the third round of the event for the first
time in his career as he overcame World No.16 Ryan Cuskelly of Australia
courtesy of a clinical performance that saw him reproducing the kind of
free-flowing squash that took him to a high of World No.12 back in 2013.
The 32-year-old responded from losing the opening game to prevail 5-11,
11-7, 11-5, 11-7 and set up a second round encounter with Germany’s
means a lot to win today and reach the third round,” said Richards.
“Ryan is a great player but I feel like I played some really good squash
today. I used the conditions well and I’m just delighted to be fit and
healthy and playing. I knew I had the game to beat and could beat him,
but equally I knew he was more than capable of blowing me away, so I’m
just happy to come through.”
The other winners on the first day of second round action were Peruvian
Diego Elias, New Zealand’s Paul Coll, Spaniard Borja Golan and Egyptian
Action from the second round continues tomorrow, October 29.
in the first round of a major PSA World Tour Platinum event for just the
second time, Malaysia’s 20-year-old Eain Yow NG sealed one of the
biggest victories of his career to knock home favourite and World No.24
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi out of the 2018 Qatar Classic at the first hurdle
- on a day that saw all three competing Qatari players crash out of the
Taking on the talented Tamimi in his own back yard, NG embraced the
underdog role and attacked without fear from the off. Playing with a
relaxed, composed manner the World No.42 took the game to the local man,
forcing errors from the racket of a nervous Tamimi to take the opening
game for the loss of just three points.
Tamimi, currently at a career high ranking, looked to have found his
rhythm as he levelled the scores. But the errors began to flow once
again in the third game, with NG happy to profit and re-establish his
lead. He then came from behind in the fourth game to seal the win and
book a place in the second round of a major event for the first time in
“I knew coming into it today it would be tough to play him in his home
town so I just told myself that there was no pressure and to relax and
enjoy the match,” said NG, who led Malaysia to a Gold medal finish at
the Asian Games Team Championship.
“He’s a very talented and tricky player, so I just had to play basic,
keep the ball tight and stay focused. I knew there would be pressure on
him and in the first game I could see he was a bit slow of the mark and
I tried to take advantage of that and the first game was very important.
“I fought back very well in the third game after being down and I just
kept focusing on trying to play good squash instead of getting sucked
into his type of game. I believed that I could do it and it paid off for
me at the end.
“To win this match means a lot to me as well because I’ve fallen short
at the major events previously and have struggled to get to the main
draws so wining today and getting into the second round for the first
time is big for me. Playing against players like Karim Gawad, who’s
someone I have looked up to, is the sort of thing that every player
works for so I’m excited to just give it everything I’ve got and see
NG will go up against former World Champion and 2016 tournament winner
Karim Abdel Gawad in the second round while Qatari wildcards Abdulrahman
Al-Malki and Syed Azlan Amjad also bowed out at the first round courtesy
of straight-game defeats at the hands of Australian Cameron Pilley - who
today celebrated his 36th birthday - and Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip.
German number two Raphael Kandra was one of six players to narrowly come
through in five games and secure a place in the second round of the PSA
World Tour Platinum event, with the 27-year-old coming from behind to
see off Mexican Arturo Salazar in a thrilling encounter.
Kandra, playing at a career high ranking of 19, was off the pace to
start with but managed to turn the match around and prevail against the
dangerous Salazar - who’s brother Cesar saved match ball to triumph in
another five-game battle with Welshman Peter Creed.
“I wasn’t that comfortable on the glass court to start with today but
the longer it went on the better I felt,” said Kandra afterwards.
“I just focused on what I’m good at and it worked out for me in the end.
I’m now going up against Diego (Elias) in the second round and I’m
excited for the challenge - I will push as hard as I can to try and get
Egypt’s World No.45 Karim Ali Fathi also produced a surprise win on the
opening day of action as he secured a 3-0 victory over France’s World
No.31 Gregoire Marche while Mazen Hesham, Greg Lobban, Adrian Waller,
Tom Richards, Borja Golan, George Parker, Mathieu Castagnet, Declan
James and Joel Makin were the other winners on the day.
No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy is relishing the prospect of defending his Qatar
Classic title between October 27 - November 2 and says that he feels at
home at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex after reaching
six successive finals there.
With three Qatar Classic titles to his name, ElShorbagy is the most
successful player in the tournament’s history, and he also reached the
World Championship final here on two occasions, in 2012 and 2014.
The 27-year-old has a rich vein of form in Doha, winning 29 of his last
32 matches in the country’s capital, and he looking forward to returning
to a location where he has dominated his opponents in recent years.
"I always love playing there," said ElShorbagy.
"I have made six finals in the last six years, so I always feel that if
there is somewhere where I am the hardest to beat then it is definitely
Qatar because I always feel at home on that court. If someone is going
to beat me there then it will be like they have kicked me out of my
“I really look forward to going back there and trying to defend my
title. I had a tough draw there last year and I stepped up and won the
tournament. I really hope I can go back there and do it one more time
and let’s see what happens, there are a lot of good players right now
playing really well but hopefully I will be up to the task and be able
to defend my title."
ElShorbagy's title win in Qatar last year was one of eight PSA Tour
titles the Bristol-based Egyptian picked up during a dominant 2017/18
campaign, with a 3-1 victory over fellow Egyptian Tarek Momen seeing him
capture his third trophy in Qatar.
He started this season with a final appearance at the Oracle NetSuite
Open in San Francisco - where he lost out to World No.2 Ali Farag -
before beating World No.5 Simon Rösner to win the U.S. Open a fortnight
ago, and he is anticipating some strong challenges in Qatar as he bids
to retain his crown.
"It’s not going to be easy with how strong the draw is and each season
it gets harder because each player studies me more and wants to beat me
more," he said.
"I try to get better each season too, it gives me a reason to get better
each season. I have been World No.1 for three years exactly now and for
me the greatest in each sport has consistency. The longer you stay, the
longer they study you and find weaknesses, and the longer you stay at
the top that means that you have been able to protect those weaknesses
from being exposed as much as possible.
"For me, the same means going backwards, so if I stay the same as last
season then I might not win this season. I have to keep getting better
and keep challenging myself more every day. I made that mistake last
time when I was World No.1, I stayed the same and didn’t motivate myself
to get better, so the experience I have this time is that I know that if
I stay the same someone is going to hunt me down.”
ElShorbagy receives a bye through to round two, where he will play
either Qatari No.2 Syed Azlan Amjad or Hong Kong’s Tsz Fung Yip.
The Egyptian is drawn on the same side of the draw as World No.5 Simon
Rösner and World No.8 Paul Coll, while Farag, Momen and World No.6
Miguel Angel Rodriguez are involved on the opposite side.
A prize fund of $177,750 will be up for grabs, as will a place at the
PSA World Tour Finals, with the winner automatically qualifying for the
Matches held on the glass court will be shown live on SQUASHTV (Rest of
World), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and DAZN (Japan), while the
semi-finals and finals will be shown on major broadcast channels around
the world, such as BT Sport, beIN Sports, Fox Sports Australia and Astro
Entry is free for rounds one, two and three, while tickets can be
purchased for the quarter-finals onwards from the tournament website.