R2 : Upsets abound as Men’s matches begin
[9/16] Gregoire Marche (Fra) 3-0  Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 11-7, 14-12, 11-4 (60m)
Karim El Hammamy (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Zahed Salem (Egy) 11-6, 13-11, 11-7 (64m)
Raphael Kandra (Ger) 3-0 Lucas Serme (Fra) 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 (38m)
Victor Crouin (Fra) 3-0 Shahjahan Khan (Usa) 12-10, 11-8, 11-4 (52m)
Upsets aplenty as Men’s Round Two begins, with just one 9/16 seed reaching round three, and that at the expense of the 8th seed …
Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0 Lucas Serme (FRA)
Raphael: I’m not showing too much but I’m very happy.
The whole day starting all about the preparation, so relaxing, quite relieved that I won the first match already. In the past, when I had a good draw, I used to completely forking up. Because I was thinking too much about the draws and stuff like that.
I knew Mahesh was a tough opponent for a first round, and I beat him. But then again, I came against Lucas, yes, I beat him some matches, but he beat me many times. So, let’s forget about it, and try and enjoy the match and being comfortable on court.
That’s what is missing in my squash at the moment, I’m not comfortable, I’m not really happy while I’m playing. Everything is about I have to win, I have to win. So I was just trying to play the game I like to play.
I have to say Lucas in one of those opponents that give me a chance to do that, to enjoy. He is straight, he doesn’t surprise me a lot on the court, and I felt comfortable, I was moving well, my hands were like good, he kept giving me so many opportunities, I had so many shots in my head. So I told myself, don’t make it harder than it already is.
In the third, I never saw Lucas being that tired after two games, so I said to myself, ok, one step even further….
Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0  Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
Grégoire confirms his upperhand on the Colombian, as he had beaten him in Cairo two months ago in the second round on the same score, 3/0.
Grégoire: First game, I’m a bit more comfy at the end of the game, and the second is so important.
I get a few game balls. It’s a long second one but I feel fresher then than I did in Black Ball. And I was thinking doesn’t matter if I was to lose it, I felt I could play fourth or even 5 games.
I felt he was maybe not as comfortable on court, he comes from much further away, the States, so big jetlag. I didn’t know how I was going to react though, the court is slippery, and I was not that confident racquet wise.
So I had to be patient, find my length, my marks. I think I was better at the back of the court than he was today, I was volleying better, despite the lack of confidence on my short game.
Third I felt better. It’s good to have a good result because I’m a bit in a difficult period from a personal point of view. I had to push myself a lot to work hard, so it’s nice that it pays off.
Next round, I’m playing Rafi. We know each other’s game by heart, we are from the same generation, very different game from Miguel, I’m going to have to adapt…
Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-0 Shahjahan Khan (USA)
A crucial first game, 23m, between two players who know each other’s game pretty well. The second game was shorter but still long, 16m. Victor and Shah have a lot of patience and determination. The game could have gone to much longer. The Frenchman will be very happy with a 3/0 win.
Victor : I would have liked my first game to be shorter too, Fram. But he was retrieving everything!
It was a good draw, when you think that Grégoire has to play Miguel, with all the due respect to Alan and ShahJahan, it’s not the same level of players. But when on paper you appear as the favourite, you need to hold your ground. And if you think of how I was yesterday, I am Veryyyyyy happy to win in 3!
First game was hard, but crucial, for my confidence of course, but also he made a lot of work in that game, and I think mentally he felt it. The game was very long because when I was putting him under pressure, he was lobbing everything beautifully. I was trying to attack or play at the back, but the ball was pretty bouncy, it was hard to finish the points.
So crucial to take that game, but also if I did a lot of errors in that opener, I had to attack as had I played at the back, I would have found myself in the same situation as Alan Clyne, because he doesn’t mind that style of play.
Finally, I told myself to keep attacking even if my attacks were not winners. And little by little I took confidence, and in the 3rd, I lead 9/0. Finally, I found my length, my attacks.
Happy of course, I’m in the third round, I’m playing Paul on the Glass court, I’m feeling good, and I cannot express how happy I am to play in the glass, I can’t wait as normally, I watch it from behind my screen on SquashTV…
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0 Zahed Salem (EGY)
A battle in the mind that was. Yes, they are both physically, Joey B nicknames Zahed the Boxer. Karim is as tenacious. Physically as gifted as his sister, he is learning to use his squash and not only his physicality thanks to his coach Karim Ali Fathy – who also coaches Danielle Letourneau. Former world junior Champ, Karim took some time off for his studies, and after a series of recurrent injuries, is back full time on the Tour.
Zahed is one of the unsung Egyptian players. Initially coached by Amr Mansi – Gouna and Egyptian Open Big Boss – he took his time to arrive to the front of the stage. Patient with the ball, physically very fit, and with quick hands, he is now a serious contender for the Tour.
So today, I can tell you that Karim, 25 and WR56, was ecstatic to take a win against his compatriot 28, WR16, in 3 games, just over an hour. That took some doing. The only time they had played was 3 years ago, going to Zahed’s way.
It was an intense match, with a lot of roars from both of them. Incredible intensity. Fair match.
Karim “I’m going to tell you something: it was not only the second that was crucial. The third was too. Zahed is a very solid player, and he could come back from 2/0, 10/0 down. And he was up 6/5 in the third, and I was very focused not to lose it, because I felt that he is took a game, it would have been very hard, as he would convert.
He is a very attacking player, and very experienced. He doesn’t play a high percentage squash, his shots are very calculated. So I had to attack. I couldn’t just wait and sit. He was going to put the pressure on me. So today, I used only my squash, but also my physicality too to keep with him at that pace, it’s not easy.
I had to contain his attacks but at the same time, I had to attack too: counterdropping, volleying when I could. I did a couple of beautiful shots in the middle of the second, a misuki in the nick, and another backhand nick so that made the difference too I think.
I’m playing Karim Abdel Gawad. And the Babyface Assassin, we don’t know how he is going to do, yes he comes back from a foot injury, but believe me, he can win on one foot! So I have to wait and see and watch!