ElShorbagy Overcomes Spirited Wall
No.4 seed Marwan ElShorbagy is through to the third round of the Allam British Open after getting the better of English wildcard Nick Wall in the opening match on the glass court on day two.
Wall took a win over Daryl Selby in his first ever appearance in the main draw of the British Open yesterday, and he started strongly against ‘the Jackal’. The pair were level at 7-7 in the first, but ElShorbagy showed his experience to take the last four points to hold the advantage in the contest.
The Egyptian then took the second game as well, only to see Wall fight his way back into the contest by winning the third game. However, the Englishman started to tire going in to the fourth game, and ElShorbagy was able to secure the victory 3-1, booking his place in the last 16 where he will face German No.1 Raphael Kandra.
“I am really happy to be back here and to have this tournament back on the calendar. It means a lot to all the players so all the players are happy to be back here playing in Hull. The British Open is the most prestigious event of the season, so we are all happy to be back here playing,” ‘the Jackal’ said.
“I really enjoyed my match today with Nick, he is a good player. We have practiced a few times in Sheffield and I know he has great potential, a good future ahead, and I really enjoyed it today. I hope the best for him in the future. he is going to cause a lot of problems for the top players in a few years, and he’ll be up there I’m sure.
“We adapt, but I don’t see it as a problem. It is just a practice at the end of the day. To just be back competing again, we are just happy to be playing. It is not the best, of course, to practice with your opponent, especially the day before, but if this is the only solution we have to be back competing, I don’t think we mind it!
“He [Raphael Kandra] is another great player, another left-hander who I will play tomorrow. he has beaten me in the British Open a few years back, I remember it well, so if I get to play him here, I will be definitely happy to play him tomorrow to try and get revenge!”
Result:  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [WC] Nick Wall (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8 (49m)
El Hammamy Continues Great Form From Manchester
Just four days after winning the Manchester Open at the National Squash Centre, World No.7 Hania El Hammamy started her British Open campaign with a victory over Canada’s Hollie Naughton.
The left-hander came out firing, taking El Hammamy by surprise in the opening exchanges, but once she was able to calm down and find her range, the young Egyptian started showing her skills. She won the first game, and that set her up for the entire match, going on to win 3-0 in 36 minutes.
She will now face either Frenchwoman Melissa Alves or Belgian No.1 Nele Gilis in the third round of the tournament, with the pair playing on the side courts later on today.
“I haven’t played against Hollie for a while so I think the toughest part was the first game. I didn’t actually know what to expect from her. I watched her play a couple of times, I know how tough she is and how hungry she is, so it is definitely a challenge to play someone who is that hungry,” El Hammamy explained.
“I tried my best to read her as early as I could, and I am glad I managed to come back in that first! I really tried to play my game, focus on my length and my gameplan against her. Once I tried to calm down and relax a little bit, and not be relaxed and shocked by the winners which she fired in in the first, that’s when I finally found my game.
“Melissa [Alves] is such a dangerous player and although I haven’t played against her on the Tour, I have trained with her a lot. She just likes to keep using her short game and that is something that is worrying. I think she is improving tournament by tournament and that is something to be aware of. I love playing against Nele [Gilis] as well, we played in the Worlds and we have played a couple of times. It is definitely a tough and physical match, and it is something I enjoy.”
Result:  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Hollie Naughton (CAN) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-8 (36m)
Coll Starts British Open Campaign With Win
Ibrahim came into the contest in good form, having made it through to the semi-finals of last week’s Manchester Open, and only just narrowly missing out on a place in the final.
However, it was Coll that asserted himself in this contest, winning in straight games, but he did not have it all his own way. In all three games, the Egyptian held a lead, including having four game balls in the third, but the Kiwi was able to come back in each, showing his scrapping abilities, to win 3-0 and advance to the last 16.
“I didn’t really think it was beyond me. I know what type of player he is, he can hit five winners out of nowhere so you just have to roll with the punches. Tried to keep focusing on myself, lock it down and put it away when the loose one was there,” Coll said.
“It is a tough first match, he makes you twist and turn with flicks and holds. He has good shots so you have to be on it from the word go, there’s no setting in so I am very happy to get off in three. He is a quality player, he did really well last week, so I knew it was going to be a tough first match.
“Even when we practiced this morning, it’s like he has a tap on hie forehead or something! It just was dripping off. But that’s squash, it’s high-intensity. Sweat is part of it, but it’s very hard. He slipped a couple of times, I slipped a couple of times, it’s just that explosive first step you need, to cover the boast or something, it can make things tough so massive thanks to the court cleaners for their job.
“They both have good shots, Nicky [Mueller] is a very good volleyer and Mazen [Hesham] is very unique in what he can do with the squash ball so they are both tough opponents, but I hope they battle it out for 100-odd minutes, and beat each other up!”
Result:  Paul Coll (NZL) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 12-10 (54m)
Gohar Too Strong for Mickawy
Defending women’s champion Nouran Gohar has sealed her place in round three after she dispatched fellow Egyptian Zeina Mickawy with a comfortable 3-0 win in just 26 minutes.
Gohar – who beat France’s Camille Serme to win the sport’s longest-running tournament two years ago at the Allam Sport Centre – only recently arrived in the UK from the United States but the toll of travelling looked to have little effect on the World No.2 as she refused to give Mickawy even a sniff.
The first two games were one-sided as Gohar utilised her famous hard-hitting style of play to overpower her opponent and, while Mickawy managed a mini-resurgence in the third game, it was too little, too late as Gohar closed out the win to set up a last 16 clash with the winner of the all-Welsh battle between Tesni Evans and Emily Whitlock.
🗣️ "It's always great to come back to a place where you have good memories."
— Allam British Open (@BritOpenSquash) August 17, 2021
“Yesterday, when I came here and hit I was happy,” said Gohar after the match.
“I have great memories here, and it’s always good to come back to a place where you have great memories. I think I played well today even though I came from the US. I’ve just been sleeping since I came here, I’ve not been doing anything else.
“But I can’t really complain about the jet lag because I was playing well, so it’s fine.”
Gohar also discussed returning as defending champion, saying: “I’m just trying to forget about the pressure side and stick with the enjoyment part. I’ve had a good season and everything is a bonus right now.
“When you’re playing well you try to enjoy it and build on it, so I’m just trying to keep this form going. I’m trying to be more attacking, and I think that’s the main thing.”
On her prospective match with Evans or Whitlock, Gohar said: “Both are Welsh and home crowd favourites. I hope being the defending champion means some people will cheer for me.
“Both of them are very talented players, and I’m looking forward to the next match.”
Result:  Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 (26m)
Farag Comes From Behind to Beat Lobban
World No.2 Ali Farag made his return to action at his first event since lifting a second PSA World Championship title, but he was made to work hard for the win after falling a game behind against Scotland’s Greg Lobban.
Lobban, the World No.28, played some fabulous squash in the opening game as he moved Farag around the court and played the percentage shots to sneak a one-game lead on the tie-break.
The Scot started the second in the ascendancy, but a slight drop in concentration was all Farag needed to get himself back in the match, and the 2019 British Open runner-up soon took control to draw level.
He kept Lobban at arm’s length in the second, before dropping just two points en route to victory in game three to set up a third round clash with good friend Mohamed Abouelghar.
— Allam British Open (@BritOpenSquash) August 17, 2021
“It’s been a tough situation for most of us Egyptians, we had to stick around somewhere in the world to be able to get into the UK,” Farag said.
“Thanks to the Paderborn squash club, they hosted me for 10 days and I played with the German and Swiss boys, and it was amazing. But changing the routine of your training just before a tournament is tough, I’m not used to it. I wanted to come here, start well, play fast, try to volley and to make myself feel like I’m sharp.
“But he’s too accurate for that and I wasn’t accurate enough, the fundamentals weren’t there. I had to get those fundamentals back in the first few points of the second, then from that point on I found my game a lot better. All credit to Greg, he was firing on all cylinders to start with, so I’m just glad that I pulled through.
“The one word that comes to mind first is that we’re all very grateful to be playing again. Some other businesses and other sports had to stop altogether, so we’re grateful to the PSA and Dr. Allam as always for bringing us back to Hull for the eighth or ninth time. But it is tough being away from your family, some people haven’t even been home since the Worlds.
“You have to be in a bubble, you can’t go outside. Thankfully PSA has eased the restrictions a bit now, but it’s still not the norm. There is a sense of unity, all of us are in this together, and we’re trying to make the most out of it.”
Result:  Ali Farag (EGY) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-1: 11-13, 11-3, 11-7, 11-2 (49m)
El Sherbini Makes Short Work of Fiechter
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini cruised through to the last 16 following a comfortable 3-0 win over USA’s Olivia Fiechter.
It was only their second meeting on the PSA World Tour following El Sherbini’s win over Fiechter at last month’s PSA World Championships but, like in Chicago, the Egyptian had too much for her opponent as the two-time British Open champion completed an 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 victory.
“I’m really happy with my performance, I thought it was a tough first round,” said El Sherbini.
“You saw our last meeting in Chicago where she pushed me until the end. I’m playing her in back-to-back tournaments, so I just wanted to play well and maybe make it a bit better than last time. She’s really good, she gets everything and her movement on court is unbelievable.
“I felt the court was a bit dead even though it’s a bit hot today. In Chicago it was very hot and bouncy, here it is still hot but the court is a bit dead. I prefer this court, I love playing on dead courts, so it’s good for me and hopefully this week it will work well.
“Joshna is a very experienced player and has been playing on tour for a long time now. We’ve played together many times, so I’ll just try and relax, stick to my game plan and see how it goes.”
El Sherbini also revealed her pet parrot would be watching her in action back home in Alexandria, saying: “Every day in the morning, they have to send me a video of him to make sure he is good. When I call I stay in contact with him and remind him to watch every match!”
Result:  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-6 (26m)
ElShorbagy Battles Past Makin in Thriller
Defending champion Mohamed ElShorbagy has held onto the World No.1 spot after coming through a 76-minute thriller with Welshman Joel Makin in an incredibly difficult second round encounter – claiming his 450th PSA win in the process.
A defeat against Makin for the Egyptian would have seen rival Ali Farag overthrow him as the World No.1 in next month’s PSA World Rankings, but ElShorbagy held firm in the first game to prevail courtesy of a tie-break.
World No.10 Makin has played a lot squash over the past two weeks after winning the British Nationals and reaching the final of the Manchester Open last Friday, but he dug in and fought through the fatigue as he came back fighting to draw level in the second.
ElShorbagy – who has beaten Makin in two of their three previous meetings this season – was back on top to win the third, but Makin kept plugging away in the fourth and drew level after his opponent eventually threw the towel in so he could conserve energy for a nail-biting decider.
Makin fought hard but ElShorbagy had the tactical nous to outmanoeuvre his opponent, and he closed out the win to ensure he will face Frenchman Baptiste Masotti for a place in the quarter-finals.
Magic from @MoElshorbagy ✨
— Allam British Open (@BritOpenSquash) August 17, 2021
“He’s obviously played a lot of matches recently,” said ElShorbagy.
“I think we were both flat for different reasons, he’s had a lot of matches, I’ve had to deal with a lot of finals recently, and it was a test for both of us. Even though I won, I think we both succeeded in the way we showed our opponents that we will fight even when we’re tired. In my head I just needed to get through, I didn’t care about the result, I just needed to get through because I knew it would be a completely different story from now on.
“We’ve both played at a much higher level against each other before, but I think the way we dealt with the match today mentally, for an athlete, there were a lot of things to show. I’ve just played a World Champs, I’ve reached three finals in a row, and for him he just played the World Champs, the Nationals and the Manchester Open, so we had different reasons to be mentally a bit flat.
“But it’s part of being an athlete at the top of the game, you need to deal with these situations and you need to find a way to win. I’m lucky that I was the one who came out as the winner today.”
ElShorbagy also had praise for Dr. Allam – the tournament’s title sponsor – saying: “I just wanted to say thank you to Dr. Allam for sponsoring the event. You have sponsored it for so many years, and you continue to support our sport.
“This is a tournament that has so much history in our sport. I was speaking to Jonah Barrington a few days ago, and it means a lot to him and a lot of the greats of the game because this tournament has so much history for us. For you to support it means a lot for the past champions, the current champions and for the whole sport.
“I really enjoy playing here and playing in front of you every time I come back, and I’m looking forward to playing in front of you again.”
Result:  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-2: 12-10, 6-11, 11-7, 3-11, 11-6 (76m)