The opening event of the new season continues in Cairo as the seeds enter the fray on Day Two at Cairo’s Zed Park, with today’s matches deciding the quarter-finalists.
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.
Top Seed Hany Cruises Into Last Eight
Top seed and World No.9 Salma Hany is through to the last eight of the CIB Zed Squash Open, after a confident performance saw her overcome the up-and-coming Jana Shiha in straight games.
Shiha, who made the last 16 at both the CIB Egyptian Open and CIB Black Ball Open last season and is now inside the world’s top 50, could have posed problems for Hany, but the Oracle NetSuite Open finalist was able to remain in control throughout.
A fast start for the World No.9 saw her on top after the opening game, and she maintained that form throughout the second game as well, despite a Shiha fightback. The older of the two Egyptians got the job done in just under half an hour, and Hany will now face Egypt’s Nadine Shahin in the last eight on Friday.
“Obviously, I was very excited to kick off my season today. Jana is a tricky first opponent, so I am pretty happy with my performance to get through in three,” the tournament’s top seed said.
“The conditions are not so easy, it is windy and it is so hot inside there. I was just trying to get used to the court, try out my movement. I am just excited to kick off the season and see what this season has in store fo me. “I am just taking it day by day, tomorrow is another match, playing Nadine Shahin, and I am looking forward to it! She is a tough opponent, she fights for every point. I am ready for a fight and I will give it my all.
“I am not really thinking about that, I am just taking it as a normal tournament. I just want to win every match, it doesn’t matter if I am seeded No.1 or even like… No.30… I show up every day to put up a fight, and ready to win a match.”
Soliman Sails Into Quarter Finals
Men’s top seed Youssef Soliman booked his place in the last eight after vanquishing Portugal’s Rui Soares in the final contest of round two.v The World No.17 had the victory wrapped up in 37 minutes as he defeated Soares 11-4, 11-7 and 11-9.
The Egyptian comes up against his fellow countryman and No.5 seed Moustafa El Sirty tomorrow evening in the quarter finals.
“It is all about getting into the first tournament of the year for me,” said Soliman. “I have been training this off-season but you cannot expect what will happen in the first tournament, and how it will work out, but I am happy to be through in three. It was a bit tricky, but I am glad I am through, and it was good to close it out in three.
“He [Moustafa El Sirty] has been great over the last season. He won a lot of tournaments, I have to be careful because he is dangerous. I know because we train a lot together, so I know what to expect from him. I will prepare well!
“It is all about performances, I don’t want to focus on being the top seed or to win the tournament or anything, it is all about performing. I will try to implement my game on court, that is my goal and hopefully it will work out!”
El Tayeb Downs Watanabe To Make Quarter Finals
World No.11 Nour El Tayeb took the victory in the opening match of the glass court session, defeating Japan’s Satomi Watanabe in straight games to make her way into the last eight of the Bronze level competition.
It was the first meeting between the pair, who are both making their way back up the rankings after time out. El Tayeb is back into the top 11 after the birth of her baby daughter, while the Japanese No.1 is pushing to break back into the top 50 after not being able to play on Tour during much of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watanabe showed what she can do in the first game, saving a couple of game balls to send it into a tie-break. However, it was the former World No.3 that took it 13-11, before then reeling off 11 straight points to come back from a strong start from the Japanese No.1 in the second game. El Tayeb went on to win in three, and will now face the USA’s Marina Stefanoni in tomorrow’s quarter finals.
“I think it was a very good game, I knew Satomi was dangerous and I practiced with her a couple of months ago,” El Tayeb admitted.
“I knew what to expect, but then playing a match against someone for the first time is always interesting, but I think I played well. The first match of the season is always tricky, but then playing against someone for the first time is always interesting.
“I’m very happy with my performance and how I dealt with the conditions, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow. “I’ve heard a lot about Marinabut I’ve never played against her. It’s going to be ver interesting, I know she is an up-and-coming junior player and I’m excited for the match.
“The target for me, as it is for any player in the tournament, is to win the event. This event is very important for me if I want to get into the top eight. I’m taking it match by match, obviously, and trying not to look ahead. Hopefully I can play well tomorrow and take it from there.”
Crouin Dispatches Vargas in Five
No.2 seed Victor Crouin needed five games to dispatch Juan Camilo Vargas to secure his place in the quarter finals of the Men’s CIB Zed Squash Open.
The World No.18 was 2-0 to the good before Vargas mounted an impressive comeback to force a decider.
However the Frenchman prevailed in the final match to book a place in tomorrow’s quarter finals where he will face off against Hungary’s Balazs Farkas.
“I don’t know what to say right now, I need to watch it back and analyse the match,” Crouin said.
“I don’t know what happened, I was 2-0 up and he brought it back to 2-2, but I’m happy I’m through. It’s these kinds of matches where I have to push through even if I can’t find a solution, I still have to win and that’s all that matters.
“It’s an opportunity [to win the title] but I have to take it one match at a time because, as you can see, I could have been out today. Yes, it’s an opportunity, yes, it’s the goal to win a Bronze event, but if it doesn’t happen then I will keep pushing.”
Stefanoni Shocks Whitlock as Gilis Battles Past Moataz
Day two of the CIB Zed Squash Open got under way with a surprise result at Zed Park as USA’s World No.61 Marina Stefanoni got the better of World No.19 Emily Whitlock to reach her biggest ever PSA quarter-final. It was the pair’s first meeting on the PSA Tour, while Stefanoni was making her first PSA World Tour appearance since her last 16 finish at April’s Carol Weymuller Open.
It was an exciting contest which saw both players push each other to the limit during a 64-minute battle. It was Whitlock who took the advantage in the first game – winning it on the tie-break – but she had little answer to Stefanoni’s accuracy in the second as the 19-year-old came back to level.
Stefanoni was again in the ascendancy in the third as she amassed five game balls, however a tenacious showing from Whitlock saw the Welsh player come back to send the game to another tie-break. This time, it went the way of the American.
But Whitlock wasn’t done there and she steadied the ship temporarily in the fourth, using the lob well to create time for herself. An assured showing from Stefanoni saw her move back in front in the fifth though and she closed out the win by a 10-12, 11-3, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8 margin to reach the last eight of a PSA World Tour Bronze event for the first time.
“I’ve been super excited for this season to start,” said Stefanoni afterwards. “I felt like I was playing well, they’re probably the tightest rails I’ve ever hit and she forced me to, so I’m really happy to get through in five.
“It gives me confidence, however now I’m in the quarters and everyone is an amazing player. I remember watching Emily play five years ago, and I was astounded at her shot quality, so to get a win today is a boost. “I’m hoping to increase my ranking [this season] and get into the Platinum events, that’s definitely my main goal.”
Stefanoni will play either No.2 seed Nour El Tayeb or Japan’s Satomi Watanabe in the quarter-finals.
On court one, Belgium’s Nele Gilis found it hard work to get past Egypt’s Hana Moataz, but the World No.11 eventually came through to secure a 13-15, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8 victory which will see her line up against either Hana Ramadan or Menna Hamed in the next round.
Mosaad and Elnawasany Advance
The first lot of men’s matches at the side courts saw Egyptian duo Omar Mosaad and Yahya Elnawasany book their places in the quarter-finals courtesy of respective wins against Leandro Romiglio and Henry Leung.
World No.22 Mosaad, known on tour as ‘The Hammer of Thor’, completed an 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 victory in 36 minutes and has targeted a return to the top 20 later this season.
“It’s a new season, so you have to start well, especially in the first match,” said No.4 seed Mosaad. “It’s good to be back and get some confidence for the next few matches. Of course, I did some training in the off season, so hopefully it will work for the rest of the tournament.
“For the top four players, winning the tournament will be a target. I am trying to focus match by match and then we will see what will happen. “I want to get back first to the top 20 and then the top 16. Then we’ll see about the top 10 in the months after that.”
The 34-year-old will take on Elnawasany in the quarter-finals after the World No.49 beat Leung by an 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 margin.
Mohamed Axes Metwally in Five
Women’s No.4 seed Farida Mohamed required five games to see off the threat of fellow Egyptian Mariam Metwally as she booked her place in the quarter-finals.
Mohamed – who saw out the 2021-22 season with her biggest tournament win at the RMCLUB Women’s Open in Mauritius – came back from 2-1 down to take a feisty affair by a 5-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3 scoreline.
It was a physical contest with a number of traffic issues and Mohamed took issue with the style of play of her opponent, saying: “It’s the first round, so it’s usually not your best performance of the tournament, but it wasn’t a very nice match, to be honest. I got hit six times on my face, both thighs and my knee.
“There was so much contact in the match and a bad attitude from my opponent, I didn’t really like it. But I’m actually glad about it, this was the only thing that pushed me because I wasn’t really in the mood today. It made me tell myself to win this match, I didn’t want to let her go away with a win.
“I’m glad I made it through and the last two games were so much better, I was able to win easily, so I’m pleased with my performance there. “In the first two games it was very tough [to keep her focus], the attitude was so bad and I was mad at her, so I wasn’t concentrating enough. In the last two games I focused on my self and didn’t even look at her face, and that helped a lot mentally.
“I’m the No.4 seed in this tournament, but I’m really looking forward to taking this one.”
Meanwhile, wildcard Menna Hamed saw her tournament come to an end at the hands of No.8 seed Hana Ramadan, who won 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-4 in 44 minutes.
Kandra Battles to Win over Palomino
No.3 seed Raphael Kandra came back from the brink of defeat to oust Colombian Ronald Palomino, who was playing just his second match on the PSA World Tour. Palomino marked his World Tour debut with a victory 24 hours ago against Spain’s Bernat Jaume and the World No.78 showcased his impressive racket skills against Kandra to take a shock 2-1 lead.
But Kandra, the World No.19, used all of the experience he has amassed in his 13 years on the PSA Tour and stayed calm as he comfortably took a victory in the fourth game, before overturning a 5-2 deficit in the decider to seal his spot in the last eight.
“It’s quite difficult to get used to the court, I’m not used to it and it’s a really fast front wall,” said Kandra. “That caused me a few problems and I was opening up the court too early and he is really good with his wrist and is really skilful. He made it really fast and I was always a bit too late on the ball.
“Whenever I created chances to the back and built up the rallies, I really got into it and in the end I think it was about experience and the right shot selection, whereas he is maybe still young in his head. But I think he has a good opportunity to break into the top 50 soon, he has everything you need to be a top player.
“Luckily, I saw him play at the World Games in Birmingham in Alabama where he played an amazing match against Dimitri Steinmann. He was probably the better player there, he just didn’t take his chances when he could have. “Overall, I knew what to expect and he’s a very skilful player. He will get more chances to play World Tour events now, obviously his ranking wasn’t as high so he didn’t get in, but he’s on the right track.
“I want to get as far as I can, but I know that the guys are hunting me and waiting for the opportunity to beat me. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’m used to the court now, so let’s see how it goes.”
Kandra will lock horns with No.6 seed Mohamed ElSherbini in the next round after he overcame fellow Egyptian Raphael Kandra in four games, which included a 17-15 tie-break in a crucial third game, which went the way of ElSherbini.
Shahin and Alves Progress
Egypt’s Nadine Shahin and France’s Melissa Alves booked their spots in the last eight following wins over Julianne Courtice and Sana Ibrahim.
Shahin got her season under way with a testing 3-1 win over England’s Courtice, coming back from a game down to record a 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 victory which will see her take on either top seed Salma Hany or Jana Shiha in the next round.
Meanwhile, Alves overcame Sana Ibrahim in style, winning 11-8, 11-3, 11-6 to reach her biggest PSA quarter-final since October of last year.
Alves will line up against No.4 seed Farida Mohamed for a spot in the semi-finals.
El Sirty Storms Back to Beat Eleinen
World No.27 Moustafa El Sirty has reached the quarter-finals of a PSA World Tour Bronze event for the first time following a superb comeback against World No.63 Aly Abou Eleinen as today’s side court coverage drew to a close.
El Sirty looked down and out as Eleinen – who triumphed on the glass court against wildcard Yassin Shohdy in the previous round – settled into a steady rhythm of hitting and nullified the tall Egyptian’s attacking talents.
But El Sirty finally managed to establish himself in the match from the third game onwards and prevailed despite some scrappy rallies, with the referee being forced into a number of decisions. El Sirty – who was voted as the 2021-22 PSA Challenger Tour Player of the Year – closed out the win by an 8-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 in 77 minutes to seal his place in the quarter-finals.
“I made lots of notes for tomorrow so I can start better,” said El Sirty. “Tomorrow, I can’t afford to be 2-0 down at the beginning of the match. Aly is such a difficult player to play against, but it’s not going to happen every time that I come back from 2-0 to win 3-2.
“I’m really happy with this win at the start of the season, Aly ended last season magnificently with wins over good players, so I’m really please to open up the season with a win.”
Either top seed Youssef Soliman or Portugal’s Rui Soares will await El Sirty in the next round. On the court next to him, Hungary’s Balazs Farkas also reached the last eight of a Bronze level event for the first time after he got the better of No.7 seed Karim El Hammamy in four games.
Like the El Sirty and Eleinen match, the contest was a scrappy one, with Farkas in command after dropping just five points throughout the first two games. El Hammamy struck back in a third-game tie-break, but was unable to prevent Farkas from seeing out the win.
Farkas will line up against either No.2 seed Victor Crouin or Colombia’s Juan Camilo Vargas in the next round.