Round Three (top) Afternoon matches
 Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 Youssef Ibrahim (Egy) 12-10, 11-7, 11-2 (42m)
 Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-1 Nada Abbas (Egy) 11-6, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6 (59m)
 Fares Dessouky (Egy) 3-1 Patrick Rooney (Eng) 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-3 (48m)
 Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 Youssef Ibrahim (Egy)
Not one for the fainted hearted.
The pace today was utterly ridiculous in the first two games.
Both displayed superb squash skills, there was nothing wrong with their reflexes and reactions, the tactics were pretty obvious – Youssef was going for good drives at the back – mostly on his backhand – while attacking the corners as if there were no tomorrow, while Joel was absorbing it all and giving it back at the front with dividends, backed on his immaculate length game.
The Welsh didn’t appreciate the 5/0 down, I feel, as he mentioned it three times in his 1m aftermatch interview… His pride, quite rightly, got in play, and he was determined to get the win as painfully and as quickly as possible I feel.
Youssef is not as fit he would like thanks to his recurrent knee worry, but he accepted the physical challenge, and for a game and a half, did what he did with Paul Coll a few months ago. But challenging Paul or Joel on that level might not be a correct game plan when not completely fit. Or even completely fit for that matter!
Still, in the first game, Yous was able to keep Joel on a string up, and it took a forking lot of efforts from the Welsh to keep in the rallies. The Egyptian, having to win the point so many times, ended up making a few unforced errors – that was Joel plan – and bowed on Joel’s second attempt, 12/10, 22m.
In that opener, Youssef was making the winners, 8 for 5 for Joel. The next game was the reverse, as Joel had now standing at the front, and making Youssef visit the court, 11/7, 11m.
Third, well I didn’t Joel could win a game in 4m….
I let him go out out when he was slotting his shots and he relaxed until he was 5/0 in the first game, but that’s pretty irrelevant. A lot of the guys do that. You have got to be tough mentally, 20m of hard play, and he didn’t want to know, just folded over and didn’t even try in the third game. So I enjoyed all of that. I love when they do that, that’s perfect for me, it was a hard 20m and then, didn’t want to know.
He is obviously skillful when he’s got threats in the middle, but a good squash, tight squash at the back, there is a skill to keep the ball tight to the wall, and keep him behind, and frustrated him, and that took 20m. It might not look at the start as far as being picked up 5/0 but once again, it’s pretty irrelevant for the outcome of the match.
I just wanted to close him down, and use a good straight drop, and kept error free while attacking, so I was pretty happy with that.
 Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-1 Nada Abbas (Egy)
Last time those two played was in the US Open, it went to 5, Nada was up 2/1 and Hania clawed back, it took 70m.
To be honest, I had never seen Nada play such a superb squash. I know she had some great scalp à son actif, but I never personally saw her talent as much as I saw it today. The poise, the confidence, the superb tactical relentless of her squash today, the clarity of her squash building combinations, the crispness of her volley attacks, of her redrops. The only thing she struggled a bit with today, was speed to the front, maybe not as fast as she would like. That’s where Hania was able to hurt her a bit and take the time away from there.
As for Hania, all the pressure on her shoulders, she was in doubt in her last tournament, it’s harder like I said about Marwan, to be top dog than it is chasing the top dog from the pack…
First game pretty all about Hania, 6 winners for only 3 for Nada, 11m game, 11/6. But from the second, things started to tense up for the BlackBall Champ, as from leading the game 8/5, she couldn’t contain Little Nada’s perfect attacks, losing the 14m game 11/9, having offered to her opponent 4 strokes and 2 errors. That 6 points given away.
In the third, same good start for Hania,2/0, 3/1, 6/2, 8/4. But once again, relentlessly, Nada kept attacking those corners, side to side, and the Gazelle had to do an awful lot of work wind scrappers style!
Game ball to Minnie Nada, 10/8. The rallies are superbly fast, but a no let, 1 UE, a stroke, and a no let it’s 12/10 to Hania. Game was the longest, 17m.
The last game is a bit more one sided, but at no point Hania could relax, ever up 7/2, Minnie Nada kept being threatening, and it’s relieve that the Gazelle finally closed back the 11m, 11/6…
Obviously, I didn’t want it to go to a 5 setter like in the US Open. From the start, I had a game plan, I knew what to do, and I was doing at the start and at the end, but in the middle of the match, I lost it a little bit.
Maybe I forced it a little bit. And I started to get a bit tense, my “winning shots” were ending in the tin, so once again, I kind of knew what I had to do but as I forced it, I got a bit frustrated.
Nada is really playing well since the beginning of the tournament. If she hasn’t been doing great in the last couple of events, but this one, she really doing very well, so she gave me a hard time. Glad I went through.
On the backhand, whenever I was giving her an opening she takes her space really well, and she knows how to put the ball away, that’s mainly her strength, that area, so any easy shot around there, she’d go for it.
Beating Emily and now Nada, both matches were very tough, it gives me confidence that I was get through these matches. Both of them, or anyone in the top 20 would be eager to go on and attack the top players, so she gave her best, I had to play my best game to, she had nothing to lose, and I had to handle the pressure, handle my losses from the last tournament…Happy I was able to do so.
 Fares Dessouky (Egy) 3-1 Patrick Rooney (Eng)
Second was same score, 9m, but for Fares, who though that he had done enough running with Greg Gaultier in the previous round!
Third seems Fares keeping on with a momentum, 3/1, 5/2, but 4 errors in the middle of the game close together, with the Ponte Marvel keeping the pressure up, and it’s 7/7. Lovely end of the game, with both being put under pace and pressure, but it’s Fearless in 15m, 11/8. With Pat doing a lot of running this time bless him, and not having much left in the tank in the last game, 11/3 in 8m.
First game I didn’t know how he is playing, and he was so accurate, he was moving very well, and the ball was very bouncy. I couldn’t do anything else that running everywhere, and at the end I gave up for that game.
But from the first rally of the second game, I started playing well, but he was still taking the ball very short, he was controlling the pace, he was the one in the middle of the court most of the time. And I was the one running around in the first few points of the game, I was trying to get everything back to try and not make it easy for him.
He is a very good player, I was actually surprised today. He is playing very well, he deserves to be top 15 or something. That’s what I feel, the way he moves, how mature he is, how well he plays. I think he did only 4 or 5 mistakes the whole match. That was incredible. And I made much more I think.
All credit to him, he played very well.
It’s never nice to lose is it…
In the first game I think he was working me out. I had told myself to relax, I’d be confident, I was putting his loose shots away, but then, the second game was a completely different story. He was so tight, so accurate. He was on the volley, and I couldn’t do anything I could do in the first game.
The third was tight, but then again, he was keeping it so tight, so accurate, not giving me like space, no openings, that’s how it felt. I could really see the difference between the start of the game and the rest of the match.
It was quality from Fares.