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The El Gouna glass court

El Gouna Day Four: Player Reaction - Glass Court

Glass court action continues today at the El Gouna International 2022 as eight more players look to book their slots in the quarter finals.

Play gets underway at 18:45 (GMT+2) with both recently crowned World Champions Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag featuring in tonight’s play. The former opens play as she takes on Belgium’s Nele Gilis for a place in the final eight.

Farag faces German No.1 Raphael Kandra in his second match of the competition. The pair have met four times on the PSA World Tour, with the Egyptian winning all four encounters and only dropping one game throughout.

British Open champion Hania El Hammamy features in the third match of the evening as she takes on Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold. More Egyptian interest closes out the day’s play as a highly anticipated match between ‘Raging Bull’ Mostafa Asal and Wales’ Joel Makin is sure to excite the lively crowd at the El Gouna Conference and Culture Centre.

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Order of play

Order of play

World Champ El Sherbini storms past Gilis

Nour El Sherbini

In the opening match of the evening’s play, recently crowned World Champion Nour El Sherbini booked her place in the El Gouna International quarter finals, as she beat Belgium’s Nele Gilis.

The Egyptian started strongly in the opening game and hit her targets extremely well to both the front and back of the court. Gilis struggled to find her length and the back of the court which only opened the court up for ‘The Warrior Princess’ to take advantage of.

After taking the opening game 11-3 in just eight minutes, El Sherbini continued to dominate proceedings to frustrate Gilis. The Belgian tried her best to get herself into the match but couldn’t stop the momentum of the World No.2.

There was something clearly not right with the body of Gilis as she looked to be carrying a slight injury which impeded her usually strong movement. The pressure from El Sherbini just continued to pile onto the Belgian, who struggled to find a way to win points. El Sherbini won the second and third games 11-2, 11-3 to win in just 23 minutes.

The World Champion had this to say after the match:

“I'm trying not to think about any tiredness or anything. Last week is all over this is a new tournament and a new event so I'm trying to just focus on this.

“The rallies get longer in the heat, I try not to get involved in too many long matches and rallies. The court is hot and bouncy so I was trying to keep it short and today I wanted to finish as quickly as I can and thankfully all my shots went in and it helped me a lot.

“I never played her [Sivasangari Subramaniam] before but she very talented and still, young but she’s very young, I can’t expect anything but I’ll do my best to prepare for it.”

[2] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-0: 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 (23m)

2019 Champion Farag moves into another El Gouna quarter final

Ali Farag & Raphael Kandra

Soon to be World No.1, Ali Farag, was next onto court as he took on German No.1 Raphael Kandra for a place in the El Gouna International quarter finals.

Kandra defeated rising Egyptian star Youssef Ibrahim in the previous round to set up this encounter with the World Champion. He showed this form in the opening two games of the match and after narrowly losing the first to Farag 11-8 he responded by levelling the match at 1-1, taking the second game 11-9.

From here Farag stepped his play up a level and started to move Kandra more severely into the front two corners. The reigning El Gouna champion stepped up the court and narrowed the angles of the German and forced errors from his racket.

After taking the third game 11-3, Farag booked his place in the quarter finals in the fourth game as he continued to put work into the legs of the German and extend the court. Farag found winners from the midpoint of the game and closed the game out 11-4 to move into his fourth El Gouna International quarter final.

Farag had this to say after the match:

“It definitely helps [playing a left-hander in the previous round] but they’re very different players, Raphael likes to play at pace and use a lot of angles, which is not easy as it's such a bouncy court and it's hard to put the ball away. I was trying to find my groove from the beginning, Raphael made it tough all the way through, but I'm very happy that I was able to contain him at the end and come away with a 3-1 win.

“You always want to be yourself and don't want to change too much, I like to use angles myself but against Raphael, he’s going to pick me off so I tried to put him next to the wall and against other players I tried to twist and turn him as much as I could. It depends on the player, you want to execute your brand of squash, never forget what that is, but just come out and try and execute your game plan.

“There is a bit of a hangover after last week, on Sunday I finished the match and tried to recover as much as possible. I didn’t get much sleep and Monday was a busy day, replying to everyone and Tuesday was the celebration day. I didn’t do much but it was a good day, I was on the bike and did some exercises for recovery, then on Wednesday I drove here and hit with Nour [El Tayeb] and on Thursday and Friday I had some good hits then got going on Saturday,

“El Gouna International is one of the main events of the year, it was Amr Mansi and iEvents who kickstarted all the events in Egypt. I know we had the pyramids back in the 90s but it was backed up by the government, this was the first one that was a private run event. I was here at the very first one and I'm honoured to have lifted that trophy one time but it will defiantly sound better if I can lift it again.”

[2] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-8, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4 (50m)

El Hammamy powers past Arnold

Hania El Hammamy in action

British Open Champion Hania El Hammamy confidently booked her place In the El Gouna International quarter finals as she beat Malaysia’s Rachel Arnold in a convincing three games.

El Hammamy was dominant in all areas of the court from the beginning of the match, giving Arnold no time to settle on the ball and impose her brand of attacking squash. The Egyptian’s mixture of hard-hitting and severe attacks left the Malaysian scrambling to retrieve balls throughout the encounter. The No.3 seed took the opening two games 11-5, 11-3 to place one foot in the last eight.

The pressure continued to pile on Arnold in the third game and despite showing signs of gathering some momentum in the match, El Hammamy was simply too good in every department. El Hammamy has now set up a quarter final clash with New Zealand’s Joelle King on Wednesday.

“After the Worlds, we haven’t had much time to move on and recover from disappointment,” Said Hammamy.

“This tournament is a little bit nicer to be able to get through easier so I can have more time to relax and move on and be mentally sharp for the next rounds so definitely this approach is not present right now.

“We’re going to see the response from me this week, hopefully, it's more hunger at the end of the tournament.

I'm excited, I always enjoy playing against Joelle. It's always tough and usually a five-game battle so I'm looking forward t to it, I’m glad I have the rest day tomorrow so I can recover and be ready for that match.”

[3] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Rachel Arnold (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-8 (27m)

Asal overcomes Makin in an 83 minute battle

Mostafa Asal celebrating

Closing the evening's play was a highly- anticipated affair between the World No.4 and fan favourite Mostafa Asal and World No.7 Joel Makin.

The pair played out an epic 95 minute battle at the GillenMarkets Canary Wharf Classic 2022 back in March with Asal winning 2-1 in the best of three format.

The hot and bouncy conditions were always going to play a part in the squash that was played. From the start of the match, the rallies were long due to the front of the court being hard to access. Traffic issues were always likely to play a factor and the referee was called into action on many occasions.

Asal started the better of the two and using his heavy metal brand of squash he attacked the back corners ferociously forcing Makin back in the court allowing the Egyptian control of the T. The Welshman continued to keep the ball straight and tight but Asal was able to find holes in Makin’s game. ‘The Raging Bull’ took the opening two games to place one foot in the quarter finals.

The resilience of Makin is one of the Welshman’s top attributes and that was showcased in the third game as he battled his way back into the match taking the game 11-6 by moving the tall frame of the Egyptian with more frequency and severity.

The No.4 seed got back to hit hard-hitting style in the fourth game and started the game in great fashion, leading 6-2. This momentum continued for Asal who never surrendered his lead and went on to book his place in the final eight, winning 11-7 in 83 minutes.

Asal had this to say after the match:

“This is a normal celebration for is, the Egyptian footballers celebrate like this, we pray like this like Mo Salah or any Muslim player. I was not that hyped, there are more celebrations but not for tonight.

“Every match is a new challenge and yeah I was disappointed last week because I believe in myself and my game, I was so close to the final, there is a lot to come. I know I can be there and competing for the title one day but for now, I'm focusing on this week and a rest day tomorrow so I’ll focus on the next match.”

[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-7 (83m)

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