Quarters Part One

[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Rowan Elaraby (Egy)          11-2, 11-5, 11-13, 11-9 (46m)
[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1 [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)                 2-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2 (52m)
[4] Amanda Sobhy (Usa) 3-1 [8] Salma Hany (Egy)                 9-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6 (48m)
[2] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Gregoire Marche (Fra)                 11-5, 11-5, 11-4 (41m)

[2] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-1 [9/16] Rowan Elaraby (Egy) 

A match of two halves really, as so often in squash.

First two games, Rowan was struggling to adapt I feel from the traditional court where she played extremely well, and she was disheartened as Nouran was literally on fire. 6 and 7m for those two games..

By the third, Rowan is more reactive to the court conditions, sees the ball better and that probably coincides with the Terminator slowing down just a bit. And that’s enough for Rowan to rush into the opening in the Terminator Armour.

Nothing between the players for that third, Nouran gets her first match ball from 9/9 10/9, but Rowan, fighting tooth and nail will manage to close the game 13/11 on her 2nd attempt. High percentage of winners for that one, 11 Rowan, 9 Nouran, 13m.

The fourth is one that Rowan will regret not clinching as she was up and comfortable 5/1, only to see her lead melting like snow in Gouna, 6/3, 8/5, 8/8. Some intense rallies, it’s anybody’s really, but Nouran will not be stopped, scoring 5 points in a row, second match ball, 10/8. The third will be the good one, and it’s another 13m game, 11/9, Nouran through.

Nouran : In the first two games I was playing really well.

I felt good on court, was moving well and my targets were hit. I guess I had a drop in concentration a little bit in the third, but all credit to her, she took advantage. She played her A game, so to come back and try and attack against her when she is playing that well is difficult but I’m just glad I was able to take it at the end.

It turns into more of a mental battle, but then you have to find your tactics, adapt and not play the same way you were playing. I just tried to change my tactics, relax a bit and make sure my shots go where I want them to go and just keep pushing.

[3] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1 [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)

Oh I missed you Karim. I so missed you. You know when you are looking at the Tour, and feeling that’s something is missing but you can’t put your finger on it. Well, that was you, BabyFace Assassin. In that first game, it was amazing to remind ourselves why you are world champion, with the ease you have to string delicate shot after delicate shot.

Yes, of course, you have trained 20 days in 15 months, so your fitness is not as great as it should be, and your body is a bit under shock as for the intensity of training you impose on him all of the sudden.

I saw you changing your socks (your 2 pairs on top of the other), replacing your insole to protect your foot from that terrible injury that kept you away from us for so many months. And I saw you battling with your hamstring niggle and deciding quite rightly to stop putting it under unnecessary strain.

I know you don’t mind losing at the moment. You are just happy to play. And we are so happy that you can enchant us again with your magical skills. Look after yourself dear, and see you soon on court IsA…

I started struggling to see the ball for some reason.

Against Karim’s racket work, he just destroyed me. After the second, I started to see the ball better and dictate the pace, settle down with my movement and I started to feel quite good in the last three. It’s a real positive moving into the semi-finals.

“The first definitely suited him and then I managed to control the pace a bit more. Mixed the pace, used a bit more height and just try not to let him settle because if I did, he is a World Champion in that area, so take the game away from him as much as I could.

I think it settled me down a little bit [the blood injury], I had four minutes to calm myself down and maybe it helped me, but it was nothing serious.

Tarek and Greg are both really talented players and if I start like I started today then I will lose badly. I need to focus on the start a bit more, settle down quicker, find my targets and focus more at the start.

I think mental training comes with the physical training. Coming through tough sessions builds mental toughness, so I think the two go hand in hand and working with a great mental coach [Bart Wijnhoven].

[4] Amanda Sobhy (USA) 3-1 [8] Salma Hany (EGY)

Well those two played in the last BlackBall event, and the result was uncanny similar, 10-12 11-7, 11-2, 11-7 in 45m!

Salma again tried very hard throughout, after taking a superb start, 7/2, 8/5, 10/6, before Amanda started settling in the game, only bowing 11/9 in 16m, that’s a very long game for the American lady, as we know she likes to win fast.

From that point on, Amanda was planted on the T, and never let Salma pass in front of her again. And the Egyptian kept having to cover an awful lot of ground, especially as she opened the court maybe a bit too much at time for her so dangerous at the front opponent.

A very good effort from CIB Glamour Hany but it’s Amanda that will meet with Nouran in the semis…

Amanda :
“She came out firing in the first game and caught me a little off guard.

“I wasn’t finding my targets, so she was capitalising in the middle of the court and really blocking me out of position and hitting winners, she is really talented. Once I started finding my length and settling it down, I think it was a bit up and down and a lot of stop-starting but it worked in my favour as it allowed me to settle a bit more. Once I started to slow down the pace and take a few deep breaths in between points then I started to find my rhythm and groove.

“It was tough. I think it was a battle of the middle of the court and we were both trying to look to get in front of each other, so that was maybe why there was a bit more interference than I would have liked but it’s the nature of the game and once you’re on there, you’re going to do what you can to try and get in front and win points. I knew I had to keep that pressure up.

“I’m excited, this is my second semi-final here. I’m looking forward to another battle and I know that Nouran is a tough competitor, so I’m going to focus on the recover, enjoy my rest day and then it’s another battle.

“I will chat with my coach about tactics and have a plan in place and trust in my game. I’ve put in the work and I feel like I’m ready for it.”

[2] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Gregoire Marche (Fra) 

On fire. There is no other way to describe how amazing good, free and relaxed Tarek was today. Having finally realised that it would be a good idea for him to work on his physicality at 33 and during Ramadan – I kid you not, read his quote from his first match at the squash centre – he just wasn’t in a hurry of ending the rallies, and made 5 errors the whole match.

Yes, 5. The whole match. Tarek.

Whatever Greg was doing, Tarek would find the front corners and left the ball to die there. It’s not that the French did anything wrong… Tarek was just unplayable tonight.

Was it the “gazouillis”, the joyful tweeting from his son Shahir in the crowd that did the trick? No, I know, it’s the hair and the beard. That’s the secret…. 😊


A lesson. A  squash lesson. We can safely say that.

At the start, I just couldn’t feel my shots at all, I was late on the ball, never comfortable, no marks, first match on the glass, and against such a player – he is not world number 3 for NOTHING – and especially on fire, no errors.. He has an answer for all my questions…

So I got a bit frustrated as I couldn’t find any solutions. I was trying, I started lifting the ball, it got worse! So I was hoping he would drop a bit, but he just never did.

No, heat was fine, yes ball a bit bouncy, maybe that’s why I was struggling with my length especially at the start, but no, it was fine really.

He was just playing so well, and I was making sure I was making his life as easy as possible.. So disappointed with my performance tonight, I thought I was doing ok in this event, but Tarek, just too good… I can sometimes cause a few problems to him but not when he is flying at that height..


Tarek :
It’s unusual territory for me! I’m not used to getting through 3-0 in successive matches,”

“Today it must have been one of those days where I felt relaxed on court – it’s the most I’ve been relaxed in a very long time. I played a game I’m not used to, I played in a relatively slower pace than I’m used to and it paid off.

“I went for it at the beginning, not knowing exactly how it would pan out, but it worked perfectly and then I got the feel of everything. The dropshots, the length, everything just kept working and getting better, so I stuck to that plan the entire time and it worked.


“Against Paul, it’s going to be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.”