Day Three – Quarter-Finals
The opening event of the new season continues in Cairo at the CIB Zed Open reaches the quarter-final stage at Cairo’s Zed Park. The first four matches are on the traditional courts as the Squash Centre, with the four evening matches featuring the top seeds on the Glass Court.
You can watch the matches Live on SquashTV, follow on Live Scoring, and we’ll have reports, reaction and photos here with a roundup to follow at the end of the day.
Women’s Quarters :
 Salma Hany (Egy) 3-1  Nadine Shahin (Egy) 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6 (45m)
 Farida Mohamed (Egy) 3-0  Melissa Alves (Fra) 11-6, 11-8, 14-12 (26m)
 Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-1  Hana Ramadan (Egy) 11-2, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7 (46m)
 Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 3-0 Marina Stefanoni (Usa) 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 (25m)
Men’s Quarters :
 Youssef Soliman (Egy) 3-0  Moustafa El Sirty (Egy) 11-6, 11-4, 11-7 (47m)
 Raphael Kandra (Ger) 3-0  Mohamed Elsherbini (Egy) 11-8, 12-10, 11-3 (34m)
 Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-0  Yahya Elnawasany Egy) 11-9, 11-9, 13-11 (39m)
 Victor Crouin (Fra) 3-2 Balasz Farkas (Hun) 8-11, 13-15, 12-10, 11-6, 11-2 (56m)
Soliman beats El Sirty to close out quarter finals day
The final match of quarter finals day was another all-Egyptian encounter between Youssef Soliman and Moustafa El Sirty. The difference in physiques made for an interesting battle between the two. El Sirty’s tall and powerful frame against Soliman’s smaller and stockier body type forced the players into adopting different tactics. Several errors from the younger Egyptian gifted Soliman the opening game as he took it 11-6.
The second game followed a similar pattern with Soliman maintaining a solid game and errors coming from the racket of El Sirty. The No.1 seed was able to capitalise on cheap points and ran out to an 8-2 lead. Soliman took the second game 11-4 to place one foot in the semi-finals.
Soliman secured his place in the semi-final by keeping the ball tight to the side walls and dragging the tall frame of El Sirty into all four corners of the court. Soliman will now face German No.1 Raphael Kandra for a place in Sunday’s final.
“To beat Moustafa in three I had to be consistent with my hitting and movement. He’s so good with his stop/start game and I’m just glad to be through in three.” Said Soliman.
“All the players I’ve played this tournament I’ve never played before so I don’t expect anything. Raphael’s Kandra an experienced player so I will study him and i’ll have to get my tactics right to win.
“You can see this event could be a Platinum event, it has to be the best 50k in the history of the PSA and hopefully I can keep going.”
Hany comes through tricky battle to advance
The final women’s match of the evening was an all Egyptian affair between the event’s No.1 seed Salma Hany and Nadine Shahin. Hany started perfectly by moving the ball around the court with great accuracy, consistently twisting and turning Shahin and forcing tough movements.
After taking the first game, Hany continued her accurate hitting but Shahin started to stamp her own authority on the rallies with her hard-hitting style. In a slightly scrappy end to the game, Hany managed to produce several winners to close the game out 11-7.
Despite losing the third game, Hany stuck to her task and managed to close out a competitive fourth game 11-6 to reach the semi-finals where she will play Farida Mohamed.
“Nadine is a very tricky opponent. We play a lot on tour and it’s always back and forth between us. All respect to her and I needed to be very sharp from the beginning. I had a good start in the first two games and then she was strong in the third but all credit to her and I’m just glad I managed to get through in four games.
“It’s very special to pay here in Egypt, all my coaches are here and all my family are here. It’s just really special to play here and I’m enjoying playing here on this court and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Crouin survives another scare to reach the semis
France’s No.2 seed survived a huge scare in his round two match against Juan Camilo Vargas to reach the last eight and felt the same pressure in todays match as he recovered from a two game deficit to defeat Hungary’s Balazs Farkas to reach the final four.
The Hungarian’s attacking and relaxed style of play caused Crouin problems from the outset which only added to the Frenchman’s nerves. Crouin gave himself several game balls to equalise but Farkas held his nerve and took the second game 15-13 to take a huge 2-0 lead.
Crouin stuck to his game plan however and increasingly became more comfortable in the match and after saving match balls to close out a close third game 12-10 he moved fro strength to strength against the tiring Farkas.
The No.2 seed ran out to a 7-0 lead in the fifth game and it was only a matter of time before he booked his semi-final place.
“I just hate losing, so I kept fighting and I found a way in that third game and after winning that I felt it was possible to come back so I’m just very happy to win.” Said Crouin.
“It’s only a Bronze event but it feels almost like a Platinum event. It’s an amazing venue here, it’s nice to play outside even though it’s hot. I love playing in Cairo, I have my friends here that I spent years with in the US and I still see them here in Cairo so it’s great to be back.
“I’m not the French no.1 tight now, maybe once I get to that I may feel his [Greg Gaultier] pressure.”
El Tayeb storms into final four
In the opening match of the evening session, No.2 seed Nour El Tayeb showed her class and quality to despatch surprise quarter finalist Marina Stefanoni from the USA in comfortable fashion.
The Egyptian looked at home on the all-glass court at Zed Park in Cairo and continually found winners from all areas of the court. Stefanoni tried her best to move El Tayeb and troubled her at times but the World No.11 had an answer for every question.
After setting up a healthy 2-0 lead, El Tayeb turned the screw even further in the third game to seal her place in the semi-finals. She will now play Belgium’s Nele Gilis in the final four tomorrow and had this to say after her quarter final win:
“First of all I knew I was playing a dangerous opponent. I’ve heard about Marina for the past 4/5 years so I was very aware and nervous and I watched a few of her matches to see how she plays because she’s new to the tour. I think because I was aggressive and focused from the beginning it helped a lot and helped me play well throughout the whole match.
“It’s new to me that I’m one of the older players on the tour and it’s definitely a different way to approach a match but I’m trying to take it match by match and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Gilis first through to Semis
Belgian No.3 seed Nele Gilis is the first women’s semi-finalist after a 3-1 victory over World No.27 Hana Ramadan at Zed Park.
Gilis had required five games to get the better of Ramadan’s compatriot Hana Moataz 24 hours previously, but had already overcome Ramadan earlier this year in the second round of the Manchester Open. That fixture had seen Gilis take the win in straight games, and the World No.12 looked on course to do that after a superb opening two games which saw her pick her targets well and finish with aplomb.
Ramadan had more to offer though as she dug in and began to find her accuracy at the front of the court, eventually reducing the arrears with a tie-break victory in the third. Gilis was able to steady the ship in the fourth though as she slowed down the pace and rediscovered her length game to complete the win.
“I’m very happy to get a win, she’s a very talented player and she’s very fast,” said Gilis afterwards. “I lost a bit of focus in the third and she came out firing. But I’m really glad I managed to keep it together again in the fourth.
“I started slowing down the pace again in the fourth, I think that in the third I started hitting it hard with her and I know she likes that. My length was a bit short too, so I tried to focus on slowing it down a bit, with a good length, and I think that’s the difference.
“I look at every single tournament as a new tournament and every match as a new opportunity. I’m not really thinking about the rankings too much, but I’ll see where it takes me.”
Mosaad Downs Elnawasany in Three
The first men’s semi-finalist here in Cairo is World No.23 Omar Mosaad after he put fellow Egyptian Yahya Elnawasany to the sword in a 3-0 victory. ‘The Hammer of Thor’ – as Mosaad is known on tour – beat Elnawasany in straight games in their only previous PSA meeting, which came at the Mauritius Open in June.
And Mosaad was accurate throughout today’s contest to complete an 11-9, 11-9, 13-11 victory, ensuring he will get his first taste of the glass court at this event in the next round.
“Playing in Egypt against an Egyptian guy is always tricky,” said Mosaad. “Especially if you train with them, so I knew it would be different to last time we played in Mauritius. Both of us were looking to get to the semi-finals and you need to put 100 per cent in, in the matches, so I was ready for this one.
“I’m really happy because I won it 3-0 and I’m happy to reach the semi-finals at the first tournament of the season. “It’s going to be different on the glass court, other players have an advantage like Victor, for example, he will have played two matches on. Tomorrow, I will have a little bit of a rest, maybe I will hit on the glass court, but you need to adapt your game very quickly.”
Mohamed Through in Style
World No.15 Farida Mohamed advanced into the last four courtesy of a dominant 11-6, 11-8, 14-12 victory over France’s Melissa Alves. The 20-year-old from Egypt battled through a scrappy five-game clash with compatriot Mariam Metwally in the previous round, but it was a free-flowing affair today with minimal interference, and a more comfortable day for the referee as a result.
Mohamed was on top for the duration of the match, but did need to be on her toes to avoid a third-game defeat after Alves had begun to find her range. However, a composed Mohamed closed out the win to set up a semi-final meeting with either top seed Salma Hany or No.6 seed Nadine Shahin.
“I just played Melissa in June in Mauritius and it was 3-0 to me, and I watched that match and wanted to have a better result this time,” said Mohamed. “I’m really pleased with my performance today. It was a very clean match today, Melissa is a very experienced player and I was really happy with the match.
“Coaching is back now, so it feels a lot better to have your team with you. I like playing in Egypt, you have your parents and people here, so it always feels good.”
Kandra closes out Court One action
The final match on court one saw Germany’s Raphael Kandra secure a commanding victory over Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini to book his spot in the last four. Kandra, the No.3 seed, had found it difficult to move past the lower-ranked Colombian Ronald Palomino in the previous round but looked far more at ease on court today as he completed a 3-0 victory.
The World No.19’s pace of shot was much improved, and while ElSherbini proved to be a tricky opponent in the first two games, Kandra was able to close out an 11-8, 12-10, 11-3 win in 33 minutes.
“I’m happy overall, a semi-final in a Bronze event is a big thing for me,” said Kandra, who will appear in his first PSA semi since March 2021. “I’ve been trying to get into form in the past few weeks and I’m starting to get better the more I stay on court. Mohamed is a very dangerous player, but we never get to face each other on the tour. It was a first-time experience for both of us.
“Until the end of the second game it was very close until I snuck away in the third game, and I think that made a big difference.
“There will be a big difference on the glass court, especially with it being outside, it will be warm. I will jump straight on now to get some hits, but I don’t really mind who I am playing, I want to accelerate my game and enjoy being out there playing my best.”