Day FOUR : Round Three Part Two – Player Reaction

Allam British Open 2021 : Day FOUR, Round THREE (bottom)

[5] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) bt Donna Lobban (Aus) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-7 (23m)
[7] Diego Elias (Per) bt [9/16] Gregoire Marche (Fra) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)

[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) bt [9/16] Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-0: 11-7, 13-11, 11-3 (33m)
[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) bt [9/16] Mazen Hesham (Egy) 3-2: 5-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-2, 11-4 (73m)

[7] Joelle King (Nnl) bt Sabrina Sobhy (Usa) 3-2: 11-1, 11-9, 11-13, 2-11, 13-11 (63m)
[4] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) bt Melissa Alves (Fra) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 14-12 (39m)
[2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Egy) bt Baptiste Masotti (Fra) 3-1: 11-7, 8-11, 13-11, 11-7 (55m)


Perry Eases into Quarter Finals

England’s No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry has secured her place in the quarter finals of the Allam British Open courtesy of a 12-10, 11-5, 11-7 victory over Australia’s World No.24 Donna Lobban.

Perry, who finished runner-up at this event to compatriot Laura Massaro in 2017, suffered from a slow start as Lobban came out the blocks quickly, following her 3-2 victory over Egypt’s Mariam Metwally in the previous round.

The Australian held two game balls to take the lead but was unable to convert as Perry mounted an impressive comeback to take an important lead. From that moment on she was able to keep the 34-year-old at bay to come through in 23 minutes.

Perry will face either defending champion Nouran Gohar or Wales’ Tesni Evans in the next round.

“I think I was a little bit lucky towards the end of the first to sneak that one,” said Perry afterwards.

“I thought I was starting to find my line and length, it is a bit of a baptism of fire even though we have practiced on here, coming and playing a match on here when you’ve been on the back courts. It’s probably been a bit of a theme but you just have to adapt to it and I’m pleased to get through to another quarter final here, it’s awesome.

“We had a practice on here yesterday, I was on the glass court a lot in Manchester. There are some similarities when you switch to a glass court but each glass court it has its own quirks, this one is very difference to the one in Manchester. You do adjust and that’s part of being a professional squash player and adjusting to the different conditions. Tomorrow might not be the same as today and that’s a big part of adapting in the game and that’s what the top girls do really well.

“Nouran can hit the ball pretty hard, they are both extremely good squash players and both very experienced as well, don’t let Nouran’s age fool you, she’s very experienced too. I’ll be enjoying watching that match later and hopefully whoever wins it’s three hours and 112-110 in the fifth.”

Result: [5] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Donna Lobban (AUS) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-7 (23m)

Elias Through to First British Open Quarters

Peru’s Diego Elias has continued the form that saw him capture last week’s Manchester Open title as he powered to victory against France’s World No.13 Gregoire Marche in straight-games.

The 24-year-old has made a grand return to his best form recently with victory over Wales’ Joel Makin in Manchester and backed that up further with a confident and mature display over skilful Frenchman Marche.

The ‘Puma’ was 10-4 up in the first game before Marche made a small comeback saving five game balls, however, Elias kept his composure to convert and that set the foundations for an 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 victory in 39 minutes.

He will face either New Zealand’s Paul Coll or Egypt’s Mazen Hesham in the next round.

“It’s never easy playing Greg, he’s a very fit player. I had to be at 100 percent the whole time. I’m feeling good after [winning the Manchester Open] last week. My body’s feeling good and I just want to enjoy every single match and give my 100 percent.”

On his potential quarter-final meeting with Paul Coll, he said: “Me and Paul have been very good friends for a few years. When I’m in Europe we stay together, I stay with him in Amsterdam and we train together. We have very different types of game so we learn from each other. Training with him is crazy, it’s very hard so that helps me to get fitter and we’re very good friends and I wish him a lot of luck. Hopefully I play him tomorrow.

“Before, anything that had to do with fitness, I didn’t like it. Now I’m starting to like it. I know that’s what’s missing in my game. I started playing to be number one, so I’m going to train for that and hopefully it comes soon.”

On today’s match between Coll and Mazen Hesham, he said: “The have the complete opposite game, Paul is the fittest on tour and Mazen is one of the most skilful players on tour. It’s going to be a very entertaining match and hopefully everyone enjoys it.”

Result: [7] Diego Elias (PER) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 11-9, 11-7, 11-3 (39m)

Gohar Continues with Title Defence

World No.2 Nouran Gohar continued her title defence at the 2021 British Open as she prevailed against a resilient Tesni Evans of Wales in round three of the PSA Platinum event.

The two players faced each other just last month when Gohar came out on top in a close 3-0 match at the PSA World Championships to extend her head-to-head record over the World No.11. And it was another tight one today as Evans ran the Egyptian close in the first two games.

Gohar took the first game by an 11-7 margin before Evans caused real problems for her in the second as she went game ball up. However, a few errors cost Evans at the crucial moments as the World No.2 was able to fight back and despite Evans saving one gameball, converted on the second attempt.

That two game lead proved too much for Evans to be able to come back from and it is the defending champion who will go onto face England’s Sarah-Jane Perry for a place in the semi-finals.

“Tesni played really well in the first two games,” said Gohar in her post-match interview on court.

“She’s a talented player so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I was just trying to find my range and my targets, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s fine as long as I have a 3-0 win.

“It’s something I will discuss with my coaches later on, but overall it was ok out there. It goes without saying that SJ is one of the most skilful players on tour. She’s a shot maker, so I have to be very alert and she likes to play some deceptive squash as well, so I will be on my toes.

“The memories of 2019 are the highlight, but back to 2016 as well, I had some great matches and reached the final when I was 16 – it’s great when I remember those times. I always look forward to play this tournament, there’s some good vibes on court.”

Result: [2] Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-0: 11-7, 13-11, 11-3 (33m)

Coll Forced to Fight Back Against Hesham

New Zealand’s World No.4 Paul Coll was forced to do things the hard way as he fought back from 2-1 down against Egypt’s Mazen Hesham to reach the last eight of the British Open.

World No.14 Hesham memorably reached the quarter final stage in 2019, and looked as though he was going to repeat that feat as he went 2-1 up against the New Zealander as Coll struggled to get to grips with the talented shotmaker.

Coll managed to wrestle control back in the fourth, after asking for a new ball, and finally settled into his rhythm as he comfortably drew back level once again with the World No.14 hitting a string of errors. Hesham tried to come back in the fifth but by that point Coll had put a lot of works into the legs of the Egyptian and was able to play solid squash to see out the victory.

That win means he will face close friend Diego Elias in the next round.

“It was very tough, a lot of people see his shots to the front but today his weight of stroke to the back was really good,” said the Kiwi afterwards.

“I had to cover the front, those boast nicks and quick shots, but then his holds and then that weight of stroke to the back was real tough today. Real mental battle for me today, I got pushy – my coach is going to have my head because I was pushing a lot of shots and I think he makes you do that. I know what I’ve got to work on but happy to get through that.

“I think I found my length a lot better. Physically I was fine, it was just about getting myself into a good pattern on court, getting a bit of rhythm and finding a good weight of stroke so I could be in front of him.

“Diego is useless! No, we trained for two weeks before this and he’s one of the best ball strikers on court and he’s got exceptional holds, he’s so accurate with his shots and moves very smoothly. We know each well, it’s going to be a good friendly match….not.

“Mazen played extremely well last week and this week, I’m taking a positive out of that for sure, I thought I found a good length and I was 5-1 up in the third and let that slip, so I can take the back end of that game, my length in the first round I thought was great and just got to keep finding that and be a bit more aggressive going in short.”

Result: [3] Paul Coll (NZL) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-2, 11-4 (73m)

King puts down Sobhy fightback to secure sixth British Open quarter final

New Zealand’s No.7 seed Joelle King made her sixth British Open quarter finals after surviving a spirited fightback from Sabrina Sobhy.

32-year-old King received a first round bye and beat England’s Jasmine Hutton in the second round, after which she required treatment for an ankle injury, which continued to affect her in today’s match. Sobhy, meanwhile, beat England’s Lily Taylor in 19 minutes in the first round and progressed through the second after her opponent, Belgium’s Tinne Gilis, was forced to retire due to injury.

The two have some history in the competition, with King – who went into the match with a 2-0 PSA record against Sobhy – knocking the American out of the 2015 tournament with a 3-0 victory.

Initially, another straightforward King victory looked on the cards. The Kiwi, despite the heavy strapping on her right ankle, started the match at a flying pace, taking the first game 11-1 in six minutes.

Sobhy found her composure and accuracy in the second and the players traded the lead throughout. King, however, had enough to follow up her first game, taking the second 11-9.

The closely-contested second game appeared to have aggravated King’s injury. With the World No. 8 looking increasingly awkward in her movement, Sobhy pushed hard in the third, using her impressive speed to good effect. The 24-year-old had game balls at 10-9, 11-10 and 12-11, with the third finally sticking to bring her back into the match.

Sobhy came out furiously in the fourth, pouncing on any loose shot from the beleaguered King, to take the game 11-2.

King used every second available between the fourth and fifth games, and sought to keep rallies as short as possible once she did return to court. This tactic bore fruit, though Sobhy worked King to the very end. Eventually though, King converted her fifth match ball to set up a quarter final meeting with either Hania El Hammamy or Melissa Alves.

Speaking after the match, King said: “How I thought it was going to pan out and how I wanted it to pan out are two very different things. As you can see Sabrina’s a class player. She’s a great athlete and if you put that ball loose she puts it away. I was finding it really hard to win at the end of games, she just didn’t go away. There were a couple of points there I thought it wasn’t my day today, but somehow I found a way to win.”

On her ankle injury and strapping, she said: “It’s ok actually, it’s more a precautionary thing after the other day. She made me work for every point and sometimes those games are good. They make you really sharpen up. The first one obviously was quite comfortable and then she changed what she was doing. A I say I’m just really pleased to win.”

On whether she felt she would win comfortably after the first game: “Never, at this stage of the tournament everyone’s here for a reason and you’ve got to give every player respect when you come on court. As I say I just couldn’t find a way to finish the games and she kept coming back and coming back. As we saw it was just two points in the end. A tough one.”

On the quarter-final match between Hania El Hammamy and Melissa Alves: “They’re both young, hungry and physical. You’ll see they’re both in great shape, they’re physical athletes but they can play great squash, too. Here’s hoping for another good match for you guys to watch.”

Result: [7] Joelle King (NZL) bt Sabrina Sobhy (USA) 3-2: 11-1, 11-9, 11-13, 2-11, 13-11 (63m)

Manchester Open champ El Hammamy safely through to quarters

Egyptian No.4 seed Hania El Hammamy overcame a battling Melissa Alves to set up a quarter-final match with New Zealand’s Joelle King.

El Hammamy came into the match looking dangerous, beating Hollie Naughton 3-0 in the second round, one week on from winning the Manchester Open.

French World No.26 Alves, meanwhile, overcame Marie Stephan 3-0 in round one, before overcoming Nele Gilis 3-2 in a challenging second-round encounter.

In today’s match, the pair’s first PSA meeting, it was the 20-year-old El Hammamy who came out on top. The World No.7 dominated from the beginning, taking the first two games 11-6 and 11-4.

27-year-old Alves rallied well in the third, pushing El Hammamy into a tiebreak and threatening a fourth game. El Hammamy, however, kept her cool to see off the challenge, eventually taking the game 14-12 to seal a 3-0 victory.

Speaking after the match, El Hammamy said: “I think I played well. Melissa kept me on my toes from the beginning of the match. I knew I would have to be on my toes throughout the match. I knew I would have to be very alert and focused from the beginning because she keeps throwing everything at you and you have to keep up with her. I managed to do that in the first two games and then I lost a little bit of focus in the third. All credit to her, she played so well. She took the lead, a very hard lead. I managed to win in three, I don’t know how I did it in the last!”

“I watched a little bit of the fifth [game between King and Sobhy], the last couple of points where it was so tense. I’ve played against Joelle a lot of times so I know what to expect. I didn’t really need to watch her play. Hopefully tomorrow’s going to be a tough match against her. I’m definitely happy she had a five-setter today. Maybe that will help a little tomorrow. We’re both very physical. I think tomorrow’s going to be a physical and tough match. A long match as well I expect. So I’ve got to go and rest and get ready for tomorrow.”

Result: [4] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Melissa Alves (FRA) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 14-12 (39m)

Defending champion ElShorbagy sets up Soliman clash

Defending champion and No.2 seed Mohamed ElShorbagy is safely through to the quarter finals after beating World No.24 Baptiste Masotti 3-1.

Egypt’s ElShorbagy, a winner in 2019, 2016 and 2015, came into the match having beaten France’s Masotti – who was playing in his first British Open – in their two previous matches, including a 3-1 victory in the El Gouna Open this summer. 

This match, however, was a difficult one for the World No.1. After ELShorbagy took the first game 11-7, Masotti fought back to take the second 11-8.

At 1-1 ElShorbagy looked in trouble, with Masotti having two game balls in the third. The Frenchman, though, was unable to convert and ElShorbagy reclaimed the driver’s seat with a 13-11 win.

This crucial win signified a swing in the match’s momentum, with ElShorbagy determined not to play a repeat of his draining 76-minute 3-2 against Joel Makin in the second round. The beast was back to his imperious best in the fourth, dominating the court on his way to an 11-7 victory. 

“Baptiste was just telling me that I’m going to kill you next time I play you! Thanks for that! No, I’m kidding, he didn’t say that. He was congratulating me. We have so much respect for each other, this it the third time we’ve played in the last five tournaments and every time he plays better and every time he gets closer. He was so close to going 2-1 up in El Gouna, this time he was even closer to going 2-1 up, so I was lucky to get the third game. He’s such a fighter, he had a tough match in the first match and he came out with so much passion. He doesn’t care who he plays against, he just wants to win every single point. It’s the way I love to watch players play the sport and I have so much respect for that,” ElShorbagy said afterwards.

He added: “This tournament is a big challenge for a lot of players at this event. To come back after the World Championships and try to back it up here. There are a lot of challenges, every player is going through their own challenge. I’m going through my own, as are others. There are no excuses, everyone has to come back here day in, day out, give it his best to try to win. That’s what I tried to do today, that’s what I tried to do in the last match, that’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow.

“I go to every tournament, I go to every single match, to try and win. I’ve done that for the last 15 years of my career and I’m still going to do it hopefully for so many more years. Every single tournament I play, I try to win it. It doesn’t matter what happened the tournament before it, of course there was disappointment [at losing in the World Championship final] but when you’re at the top, when you win events you don’t have the luxury of enjoying them because I’m always looking for the next one.

“When I lose an event, I had to learn the hard way not to let the tournament disappoint me or affect me for the next event, and that’s an attribute to stay as the No.1 for a long time. You need to always have the art of letting go and I have to always focus on the next one. The World Championships were a disappointment, but I’m going to come back at it next year and go at it again. But right now it’s the British Open, I’m going to try and win it for a fourth time. There are lots of players playing very well but I’m here to fight another day.”

On his quarter-final opponent Youssef Soliman, who progressed by walkover due to Iker Pajares Bernabeu’s withdrawal, he said: “Even though I’m from Egypt, Ive trained in England for the last 15 years of my life. I’ve moved here when I was 15 years old and [went to] school before moving to Bristol so I haven’t really trained with a lot of Egyptian players in my career. But he’s one of the few I’ve trained with because he lives in Bristol himself. We get along really well, it will be the first time we’ve played on court against each other in a tournament. He has great talent and always had great potential. To make it to the quarters, whether he had a walkover or not, he still beat Fares [Dessouky, World No.7] who is one of the best players in the world. So he has shown that he can make it there.

“Even if it’s a walkover, one day he was going to get there anyway, I was pretty sure of it. I’m looking forward to playing him, tomorrow’s not going to be a training match. I have to show him the difference between playing me in training and playing me in a tournament and that’s what I have to do because this is the generation that’s going to takeover when my generation is gone. I have to give it my all and hopefully play a good match for the crowd.”

Result: [2] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 11-7, 8-11, 13-11, 11-7 (55m)