In front of one
of the most iconic sporting backdrops of all time - the Pyramids of Giza
- it was local man Karim Abdel Gawad, the World No.6, and Women's World
No.5 Raneem El Welily who took the spoils in the 2016 Al Ahram Squash
Open NewGiza to write their names into Egypt's sporting history books.
In the shadow of the iconic structures Gawad, who came past World
Championship runner-up Omar Mosaad to reach the title-decider, overcame
Ali Farag - the Cairo-born World No.10 - in straight games to become the
first Egyptian to taste success here since the legendary Ahmed Barada in
1998, while El Welily overcame the challenge of compatriot and World
No.1 Nour El Sherbini to become the first Egyptian woman ever to win the
Receiving almost $17,000 each - the first time a major squash tournament
in Egypt has offered parity in prize money - the duo delighted the
capacity crowd to claim arguably the most important wins in their
careers so far.
"It's a great pleasure for anyone to play at this amazing venue - which
is one of the most amazing locations of all time," said Gawad.
"As a player it is a dream just to be here but to win it is incredibly
“At the beginning of the tournament my only aim was to win my first
round and to get to play one match at the Al-Ahram Glass Court. So I am
so happy to hold and raise the trophy now. It was only at Championship
Ball that it hit me, that I was about to win this tournament.
“Ali and I played a good match and wee both played the best Egyptians in
the world all week. Today, I tried and be very strong mentally, and in
particular during the first game. I wanted to show him that I was
strong, and determined, and very focused and it paid off for me.”
Speaking after her thrilling five game win over El Sherbini, which saw
her halt several resurgent spells from the current World Champion, El
"Nour is the best player out there at the moment in women's squash. She
played a great match today and really pushed hard until the end and I
think we both gave it everything we had - which is fitting for this
final in this amazing location.”
Ali Farag recorded one of the biggest wins of his career as he halted
the charge of title-favourite and World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy to move
one step closer to becoming the first home-based player to win the
iconic Al Ahram Squash Open NewGiza - the $100k tournament taking place
at the foot of the Great Pyramids of Giza - since Ahmed Barada in 1998.
Competing in one of world sport’s most breathtaking locations, Farag -
who earned a berth in the last four following the retirement of
three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour during their quarter-final
encounter - produced a sublime performance to come through in four games
and earn a richly deserved win after 70-minutes of high quality squash.
After losing the opening game Farag fought back to level against
ElShorbagy and then take a 2-1 lead. Then, with both men giving their
all, they traded points in a series of ferocious exchanges as the score
reached 10-10 in the crucial fourth. A first match ball went to waste as
ElShorbagy mounted a last ditch charge before Farag responded in style
and take the game, and with it the match, 14-12.
"I have the upmost respect for Mohamed - he's been the best in the game
for the past two seasons hands down," said Farag.
"I knew that to have a chance I needed to be at my absolute best, but
I've been preparing well since Hong Kong and got in a big chunk of
training before this event that I think made the difference.
"Mohamed can be very intimidating at times with how big he makes himself
on court - like any top player does - but I knew the biggest battle
today would be mental. I had to match him mentally and that's what I
"Before the event I looked at the draw and knew it would be tough - but
names are just names - you go out and play to win. At Motor City Open I
had the toughest draw possible and won so I know I just have to believe
will face compatriot Karim Abdel Gawad - the Hong Kong Open runner up -
in the decider after he saw off second seeded Omar Mosaad 3-0 with a
performance that underlined his status as one of the most in-form
players on the Men’s Tour while Farag's wife Nour El Tayeb bowed out of
the women's event at the semi-final stage, losing in straight game to
the in-form play on the Women’s Tour this year - Nour El Sherbini.
World No.1 El Sherbini has scythed her way through the tournament so far
without dropping a single game and she impressed once again to underline
her status as the player to beat as she came through 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 in
less than 30 minutes.
was very focused from the beginning today and worked hard not to let her
get in front and I'm glad to come through in three games,” said El
"I've been dreaming of playing here since I was ten years old and
playing in front of the Pyramids and the Egyptian crowd. I'm really
proud to be here and have my family and sponsors there to see me play so
hopefully I can keep it going now in the final."
Sherbini will face Raneem El Welily, the 27-year-old who held the World
No.1 spot at the end of 2015, in what promises to be a gripping
encounter after she stormed past England's Sarah-Jane Perry to end all
international interest in the $100k event.
“I used to come here with my brother and my parents, we were so young
then, and I remember we were fascinated by everything, so being here
means a lot for me,” said El Welily.
“Tomorrow, I hope it’s going to be a great match. She is a good person,
on and off court, and a great player.”
Sarah-Jane Perry, the World No.14 from Birmingham, England,
pulled off the biggest win of her career and one of the
biggest shocks of the season as she downed eight-time World
Champion Nicol David in the quarter-finals of the Al Ahram
Squash Open newGiza - the $100k tournament taking place at
the foot of Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza.
In front of one of the most iconic structures in the world
Perry produced a performance of epic proportions, coming
from 2-1 down to win a gritty five-game battle and record
her first ever victory over the woman who topped the World
Rankings unopposed from 2006-2015 - just 48 hours after
ending a nine-match losing streak to French World No.6
Camille Serme in the first round.
"I don't know what to say," said Perry afterwards. "She's
such a fierce competitor. I was up in last game and I had to
play some ridiculous squash to beat her.
"Nicol never stops - I've had lots of game balls against her
before and lost them all, so I knew I had to keep focusing
until the end because it's never over against her.
"Then at the end I got a bit emotional because it was a big
win for me. It's the result of a lot of hard work paying off
and also my first win against her. I didn't feel my best
today but I made myself put everything into it.
"If you told me pre event I'd make the semis I wouldn't have
known what to say - it's all a bit of a blur to be honest."
Perry will now face Raneem El Welily for a place in the
title decider after the Egyptian ended the charge of
American Amanda Sobhy in a rapid fire four-game encounter
that saw the pair exchange points at a blistering pace from
"I'm happy to come out as the winner today," said Raneem.
"In the second game things weren't going my way and I went a
little flat - which is what happened in the last two
tournaments - so I'm happy I came through in the end.
"Last time I played Sarah-Jane it was very close but she's
much more solid now. But so am I. So we will see."
the Men's draw Omar Mosaad ended the run of tournament lucky
loser Zahed Mohamed in a hard fought straight-games win
while Karim Abdel Gawad produced a scintillating performance
to defeat Tarek Momen 3-0.
Gawad reached the final of the Hong Kong Open last month,
narrowly losing to Ramy Ashour in the finale, and sent a
strong message out to title-rival Mohamed ElShorbagy as he
dictated the play and commanded the court to leave Momen
with no answer to the 25-year-old's skill and accuracy.
World Champion Ramy Ashour's hopes of winning the 2016 Al Ahram
Squash Open NewGiza - the illustrious $100k tournament taking place
at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza - and writing his name into
Egyptian sporting folklore came to a crushing and premature end as
he limped off court during today's quarter-final encounter with Ali
Mid way through what was shaping up to be a closely fought
and entertaining first game Ashour stopped after an innocuous
looking movement, but was immediately in pain and was forced to
shake his opponents hand and concede as his injury demons struck
once again to grant Farag passage into the last four to face World
No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy.
25-year-old ElShorbagy, who last month surpassed Ashour's
mark of 21 months as World No.1, looked shaky on his debut
appearance here last night when he came from behind to knock out
Cameron Pilley and he again found himself behind on two occasions to
Germany's Simon Rösner before coming through to end all
international interest in the Men's draw.
felt flat today," said ElShorbagy afterwards. "I had to push hard
mentally to make it happen and make sure that it would take a lot of
effort to beat me here.
"He was playing very well but when I pushed I think he went
defensive and that helped me.
"To be honest I'm proud that I could win today. It's moments
like this that separate the top athletes from the others - today was
tough but I live for these kind of challenges."
the Women's draw there was further local joy as World No.1 Nour El
Sherbini dispatched Omneya Abdel Kawy with ease before wildcard Nour
El Tayeb followed up her impressive first round defeat of the
in-form Nouran Gohar to come through a thrilling 83 minute battle
with England's Alison Waters.
El Tayeb came out firing and looked to be on her way to a
comfortable victory as she took a 2-0 lead, with Waters looking out
of sorts, but the Englishwoman mounted a gargantuan challenge,
saving multiple match balls in the third to take it 13-11 and then
securing the fourth game 14-12 before El Tayeb delighted the crowd
with an 11-8 win in the fifth.
think that is the toughest match I've ever won," said El Tayeb
"I've never been match ball up and lost before and there was
a lot going through my head. It got quite heated and I just
"I told all my friends to come and watch me and the thought
of losing was going through my head. At 10-8 in the third I had that
thought of winning and having that picture of the pyramids in the
background and boom it hit me and I crumbled.
"But I kept pushing and pushing and I have a rest day
tomorrow so I can train and work on a few things and
hopefully play better in the next round."
opening day of action at the 2016 Al Ahram Squash Open NewGiza saw
Egypt underline its position as the leading force in world squash as
World No.1s Mohamed ElShorbagy and Nour El Sherbini led an eleven
strong local contingent into the quarter-finals of the M100 and W100
tournaments that are taking place in the shadow of the iconic Great
Pyramid of Giza.
In the first match to take place at the location - one of the most
iconic in all of world sport - in a decade, Women's No.1 Nour El
Sherbini put aside the distractions to defeat Australian Rachael
Grinham 3-0 and set up a last eight meeting with Omneya Abdel Kawy.
"I've been really excited since I knew the tournament was
happening," said El Sherbini afterwards.
"It was my first ever time here at the Pyramids so it was very
exciting. The court is amazing from the inside - and I think it will
be even more amazing later in the week.
"But I had to focus really hard to play my game and focus on the
squash and I'm happy to come through."
El Sherbini and Kawy in the last eight are former World No.1 Raneem
El Welily and tournament wildcard Nour El Tayeb, who pulled off the
biggest win of the day as she turned the form book upside down to
stun the in-form World No.4 Nouran Gohar - winner of last month's
Hong Kong Open - in a thrilling five-game battle at the secondary
El Tayeb went 6-0 down in the first game as Gohar picked up where
she left off last time out, playing at full power to annihilate the
ball and leave her opponent stranded, but turned it around in the
second to set up a thrilling finale that ebbed and flowed until El
Tayed edged it to ensure she will play at the foot of the Great
Pyramid of Giza in the last eight.
"I was so scared of being bageled in that first game - she was
playing so well and it was hard to get into the match," said El
"I've been working on my attitude and to keep pushing regardless of
the score. I kept pushing and stayed positive and she started to
make errors and I was back in it so it's a very good day.
"It's a dream come true to be on the glass court. I remember going
there in 2001 and it was so exciting - I can't believe I will now be
there but I have to treat it just like another venue."
the Men's draw ElShorbagy avenged two consecutive defeats to
Australian Cameron Pilley to ensure he got his campaign off to a
winning start at the head of a seven-strong Egyptian contingent and
he'll be aiming to end all international interest in the tournament
tomorrow when he takes on Germany's Simon Rösner.
ElShorbagy lost out to Pilley in last month's Hong Kong Open - a
tournament compatriot Ramy Ashour went on to win - but made amends
by coming through 3-1, although he looked far from comfortable on
"I was really nervous throughout the match," said ElShorbagy.
"He wasn't playing his best and he almost took me out today. The
last two times we played, he beat me and he was playing incredibly
well so today, being in Egypt as well, made it extra tough.
"I had to be mentally strong - I wanted to win today however it took
and I'm happy about that."
into the tournament 28-year-old Ashour was the only player in the
Men's draw to have previously played at the Pyramids, when he lost
to Gregory Gaultier in 2006, and he'll be hoping to reverse his
fortune on the after seeing off the challenge of Omar Abdel Meguid
on the secondary court to move into the last eight.
"The name of the tournament and the prestige of it is on your mind
and I think if you asked every Egyptian player they all think the
same about this tournament - there is so much energy in this area
and it is so special," said the three-time World Champion.
"When I was a kid I used to go there and watch the matches. I didn't
have a ticket one time and I remember crying to the security guards
to try and get up there and it being one of the worst days of my
"I remember the goose bumps and the atmosphere of being up there. I
only played there once and lost, so I'll try and change that record
The closing day of qualification action at the 2016 Al Ahram Squash
Open NewGiza saw a quartet of international players dash local hopes
as all four Egyptian representatives in the Women's finals bowed out
- while their male counterparts were denied a clean sweep of
victories by Scotland's Greg Lobban.
Australian former World No.1 Rachael Grinham, Welsh star Tesni
Evans, Malaysian Low Wee Wern and England's Fiona Moverley all came
through to defeat local players Mariam Metwally, Hana Ramadan,
Nadine Shahin and Salma Hany Ibrahim to reach the main draw of the
lucrative $100k tournament - offering equal prize money across the
Men’s and Women’s draws - which will see live squash return to
Egypt's iconic Great Pyramid of Giza for the first time in a decade.
Grinham and Evans came through their encounters with relative ease
but Wern and Moverley were forced to dig deep into their reserves to
come through tough 5-game battles with Shahin and Ramadan - with
Moverley in particular impressing as she rallied from two-games down
to seal the win and set up a first round encounter with Nicol David
in a match that will take place on the stunning all-glass court
situated in the shadow of the Great Pyramid.
In the Men's event Lobban upset the seedings to take out fancied
Egyptian talent Mohamed Abouleghar and prevent a local clean sweep
in qualification, with Omar Abdel Meguid, Karim Ali Fathi and
Mohamed Reda all moving into the main draw.
After the withdrawal of French top ten player Mathieu Castanet this
morning due to a calf injury, Egypt's Zahed Mohamed will now also
compete in the main draw as a lucky loser, and will face Spaniard
The Great Pyramid of Giza - one of the seven wonders of the world -
will provide the backdrop to a five-day squash extravaganza this
September that will see Egyptian World No.1s Mohamed ElShorbagy and
Nour El Sherbini lead a star-studded field at the 2016 Al Ahram
International - the iconic tournament which returns to the PSA World
Tour calendar for the first time since 2006.
Taking place in an open-air court in front of the Pyramids from
September 19-23, the Al Ahram International will see players
competing for a share of the $200k prize fund which will be split
evenly across the Men's and Women's draws - the first time a major
tournament in Egypt has offered parity in prize money.
Having dominated the Men's Tour in 2015/16, claiming an
unprecedented six of seven World Series titles, ElShorbagy will be
firm favourite to claim the men's crown while fellow Alexandrian El
Sherbini, the 20-year-old World Champion and British Open Champion,
is odds-on to deliver double home success.
ElShorbagy's main rivals will come in the form of compatriots Omar
Mosaad, the 2015 World Championship runner-up, three-time World
Champion Ramy Ashour and French danger-man Mathieu Castagnet while
El Sherbini will have to be at her best to hold off the challenge of
Malaysian eight-time World Champion Nicol David and former World
No.1 Raneem El Welily.
"This September's tournament in front of the Great Pyramid of Giza
is certain to be one the most spectacular settings in world sport
and we are excited to be working with all partners to help ensure
the tournament is a success," said PSA CEO Alex Gough.
"Squash has an unmatched ability to showcase the most stunning
locations in the world and the strength and depth in the playing
field will lead to a truly spectacular exhibition of world class
sport for both spectators and television viewers."
A total of 56 players from 13 nations will travel to Giza for the
tournament, with qualification beginning on Saturday September 17 at
Cairo's Le Lido City View Clubhouse.
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) have today announced that
the Great Pyramid of Giza – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient
World – will once again provide the backdrop for a professional
squash tournament when the 2016 Al Ahram International takes the
sport back to its most iconic location ever for the first time in a
The breathtaking pyramids were the setting for the 2006 World
Championship, providing imagery of one of the most iconic sporting
locations ever, and after an agreement was reached between the PSA,
Egyptian Squash Federation and promoter Amr Mansi [Managing Director
of I Events], the sport's top stars will once again compete in front
of the trio of structures this September, when the tournament gets
underway on September 19-23.
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A 16-strong draw featuring both a Men's and Women's event will see
the world's elite compete for a share of a $100,000 prize fund as
part of what promises to be an electric 2016/17 PSA World Tour
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the Egyptian
Squash Federation and promoter Amr Mansi that will see squash return
to one of the most spectacular settings in world sport in front of
the the Great Pyramid of Giza later this year,” said PSA COO Lee
“The images captured during the 2006 World Championship, the last
time the sport was played there, continue to set the standard for
all other squash tournaments, and many other sports around the
world, to aspire to and showed the world that squash has an
unmatched ability to showcase the most stunning locations in the
“We're very excited to be returning to Giza and look forward to
working with all our partners to ensure that this year's event goes
down as one of the best in history and will be supported with a live
television broadcast that will ensure the most iconic location in
the sport is transmitted into the homes of millions of fans around
I Events managing director and tournament promoter Amr Mansi said:
“Bringing squash back to the Great Pyramids of Giza has been an
ambition for me over the past few years and the Al Ahram
International Squash Open was the first inspiration to me to start
this career of promoting squash events in Egypt . I would like to
take this opportunity to thank the Egyptian Squash Federation and
the PSA for working together to make the Al Ahram International
Squash Open return once again.
“The Al Ahram International tournaments of the 1990s and early 2000s
inspired an entire generation of Egyptians to take up squash and,
with the country currently dominating at the top of the world
rankings, we believe that this year’s tournament could serve to
inspire another generation of Egyptian superstars.
“Eng Khaled Abdel Aziz, the Minister of Youth and Sports, has given
us his full support. He is happy to bring one of the biggest and
most prestigious squash events in the world back to the Pyramids,
and is looking forward to creating such pronounced success in line
with the reputation of Egypt in the international global
Egyptian Squash Federation President Mr Assem Khalifa added: “We are
glad to announce that we will once again be hosting one of the most
distinguished squash events in the world here in Egypt.
“This event is the reason the Egyptians excelled in the sport as the
Al Ahram tournament in the past has shown them that dreams can come
true. We are truly looking forward to bringing this event back and
guarantee to make it an unforgettable one.”