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Qatar Classic - Round Two: As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction from the second round of the 2016 Qatar Classic in Doha – the World Series tournament which acts as the third stage on the 2016/17 Road to Dubai.

2015 winner Mohamed ElShorbagy clashes with Hong Kong's Leo Au, while his compatriot, World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad, meets fellow Egyptian Zahed Mohamed.

English duo Nick Matthew and James Willstrop are also in action on day three and they take on Alan Clyne and Simon Rösner, respectively.

You can watch the action LIVE on SQUASHTV and Eurosport Player.

Not able to watch? Check out our live scoring page

Here's the Order of Play
(All times are local GMT+3)
12:00 [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Leo Au (HKG)
13:00 James Willstrop (ENG) v [7] Simon Rösner (GER)
14:00 [6] Tarek Momen (EGY) v Gregoire Marche (FRA)
15:00 [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) v [4] Nick Matthew (ENG)
17:30 [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) v Daryl Selby (ENG)
18:30 [3] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Zahed Mohamed (EGY)
19:30 [8] Cameron Pilley (AUS) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
20:30 Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) v [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

ElShorbagy Battles Past Au to Reach Last Eight

World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy had to overcome a strong challenge from Hong Kong’s Leo Au to earn his place in the quarter-final stage of the 2016 Qatar Classic, World Series tournament held at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in Doha.

The defending champion, who is aiming to win this tournament for a third time in succession, was forced all the way to five games against Peru’s Diego Elias in round one, and had to batten down the hatches against a tenacious Au.

A focused start from the man from Hong Kong saw him start the better of the two players, but ElShorbagy ramped up the pace to force Au into a number of errors towards the latter stages to take the lead.


Au dug in though in the second and built up two game balls, but the World No.32 struggled to kill off ElShorbagy, who came back to send it into a tie-break, before Au ultimately prevailed 13-11.

ElShorbagy didn’t look to be moving at 100 per cent as the match went on, with the Egyptian stretching out between points. However, he pulled through in games three and four to halt Au’s resurgence, claiming a 12-10, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8 victory in 56 minutes to seal his place in the last eight.

“These kinds of games are a bit tricky because you go for shots a lot as it is a dead court,” said ElShorbagy.

“At the same time, you play three good shots in a row and you feel good about them, then you lose concentration quickly. It's not like when you play on the 'normal' courts where you have to win at the back before winning in the front, so you have to earn your rally more sometimes when it's a little bit bouncier. It's tougher to lose focus when you play on the other courts, but here it's way easier.

“I thought I was up and down again like the first round and I lost focus at times. Mentally, I felt a bit tired in the first round, but today I felt fresh. When you're playing short, sharp rallies, you have to be mentally fresh to keep it up. If you're not, you're going to struggle big time in these kinds of conditions.

“Yesterday, I took the full day off, I didn't even touch my squash racket for even a minute, and I never normally do that during tournaments, but I had to. After a long two years, I had to take one day off and I felt that I deserved one.

“It made me feel fresh mentally, maybe I wasn't as accurate as I would normally like, especially with my length game, but I felt back mentally again in this tournament.”

Result:
[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 12-10, 11-13, 11-8, 11-8 (56m)

Superb Rösner Overcomes Willstrop

German No.1 Simon Rösner came up with an immaculate display to defeat former World No.1 James Willstrop – reaching the quarter-final stage of the Qatar Classic for the first time in his career.

Willstrop led the head-to-head record between the pair 9-2 coming into the fixture, with their most recent meeting seeing the Englishman fight back from two games down to win in September’s NetSuite Open to reach the semi-final stage in San Francisco.

However Rösner, the current World No.13, was deadly from the outset and executed his game plan to perfection, with a powerful and accurate performance sending Willstrop into all four corners of the court, drawing the normally accurate Yorkshireman out of his comfort zone and into a number of errors.

After building up an impressive two-game lead, Rösner was pushed hard by Willstrop in the third. But the tall German – buoyed by the memory of his NetSuite Open defeat to ‘The Marksman’ – held firm, with a fortunate shot off the side of the wall handing him two match balls, the first of which he converted to seal a big win for the 29-year-old.


“I think I played my best squash, my best squash of the season, at least,” said Rösner.

“I kept him behind me most of the time and I was able to attack quite well at the front. I played attacking squash and I think that I can't play much better than that. James is in form at the moment, you know that he can come back after being 2-0 down, I experienced it a few weeks back, so I just tried to push over the limits.

“There was so much coming out at the end because you just want to win so badly. It's so tough to beat this guy, I think he's pretty much back to normal and playing the way he used to before he was injured.

“To beat him in this form is quite special for me, so I'm really glad. I know that I can get too excited like I did in San Fran, I got over-excited in the third and thought about too many things before-hand.

“I thought that I had already won and that there was a chance to get to the final of a major tournament. I just tried to empty my head and I think I managed to do that. That's actually the biggest part of why I'm so happy, that I was actually able to leave everything out of my mind at that point.”

Willstrop added: “I don’t think I did much wrong, but he didn’t give me anything. No unforced errors. Maybe I managed to get him under pressure in the end, forced one out of him and thought maybe I had a little tiny chance, but then he played that ridiculous lucky shot.

“He was too good today.”

Result:
[7] Simon Rösner (GER) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (45m)

Marche Emerges Victorious from Five-Game Battle With Momen

Frenchman Gregoire Marche earned his place in the quarter-final of a World Series tournament for the first time in his career after coming through an intense five-game contest with World No.9 Tarek Momen.

It was one-way traffic in the beginning of the encounter, with Momen looking sharp as he went a game ahead for the loss of four points. Marche moved up through the gears to take the next two games, but a combination of strong retrieving from Momen and some errors from the racket of Marche saw the Egyptian level, before Marche took the fifth to close out a hard-fought triumph.


“Like I have been saying from the start of the season, I am now able to use my speed to attack, and not only to defend,” said Marche.

“It was a bit like the same strategy I used in my first round against [Mohamed] Abouelghar, who is, like Tarek, a superb shot maker. I tried to keep them at the back to prevent them from using their magic at the front. And I feel that I managed to do that rather well, even if I still opened the court far too wide at times.

“It’s my first ever World Series quarter final, and I feel this is not the end. I felt good on court today, and even if there were a few moments I felt a bit in the red, at the end, I had a lot left under the foot, and that’s a great feeling to have.

“I cannot describe the feeling you get when you beat somebody like Tarek, somebody I’ve always admired.”

Momen had prevailed in a gargantuan 101-minute encounter with New Zealand’s Paul Coll in the previous round, but showed no lasting effects as a sharp display from ‘The Viper’ saw him ease to a one-game lead for the loss of four points.

Marche battled back from an error-strewn beginning to the match from the World No.24, and he began to vary the height of his shots to move Momen away from the ’T’, duly taking the next two games.


Momen emerged victorious from a series of high-velocity exchanges in the fourth, which saw both player’s retrieval skills pushed to the max, but couldn’t prevent a determined Marche from coming back from 9-7 down in the decider to close the win out by a 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 margin.

Result:
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [6] Tarek Momen (EGY) 3-2: 4-11, 11-4, 11-8, 8-11, 11-9 (76m)

Matthew Rises to Win Over Clyne

England’s World No.5 Nick Matthew continued his 2016 Qatar Classic campaign with a win over Scotland’s Alan Clyne, overcoming the World No.35 3-1 to reach the quarter-final stage.

Matthew, appearing at this tournament for the first time since 2013, came within two points of a shock elimination to local hero Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi in round one and came under fire from a determined Clyne, who claimed a huge win over Indian No.1 Saurav Ghosal in the previous round.

The three-time World Champion took a fairly comfortable first game 11-5, but squandered two game balls in the second, with Clyne rattling off two successive cross court nicks to restore parity to proceedings.


However, Matthew’s experience kicked in, in the third as the 36-year-old veteran began to lift the ball out of Clyne’s reach to combat the Scotsman’s skill on the volley, with one memorable textbook lob dying in the back wall nick.


After going 2-1 ahead, Matthew found himself 8-5 down in the fourth after some fine variation from Clyne, but ‘The Wolf’ reeled him back in, ultimately prevailing 11-5, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9 to set up a quarter-final clash with Gregoire Marche.

“It was a battle and he played probably the best he's played against me I would say,” said Matthew.

“He played his normal game, and he also played the conditions really well. I feel like I want to get the 3-0s, but I feel that I'm learning how to play on the court. Each time I go on, it's very different to the other courts we play on, on the Tour.

“I've probably not quite found out how to play on there for a full match yet, probably not even for a full game, but there were snippets today where I got it right for three or four points in a row and then I got it wrong three or four points in a row.

“I've still got to be a lot more clinical and really back the way I'm playing. Maybe when I was 8-5 down I just simplified it a bit, went back to basics and maybe I have to do that from the beginning.

“They were tough conditions, he played really well, but I'm happy to get through. I think I'm using a few of my lives in this tournament, so hopefully I've still got a few left.”

Result :
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [Q] Alan Clyne (SCO) 3-1: 11-5, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9 (55m)

Selby Continues Charge To Defeat Waller

England’s Daryl Selby followed up a magnificent first round victory against World No.4 Omar Mosaad with a fine display against compatriot Adrian Waller to move through to his first World Series quarter-final in 13 months.

Selby last reached the last eight of a World Series tournament last October at the U.S. Open, but has been in decent form recently, claiming the Macau Open title two months ago, before narrowly losing out to three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour in the PSA Men’s World Championship a fortnight ago.

The World No.19 was in fine fettle throughout the 48-minute contest as he contained Waller superbly, slowing the pace down and controlling the rallies to build up a two-game lead.


Waller raised the pace towards the end of the third game, but Selby pulled through to emerge an 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 winner, and the 34-year-old form Essex will go up against either Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley or Mexico’s Cesar Salazar for a place in the last four.

“It was a tough three games, I don’t think the scores quite tell the whole story, but I knew it was going to be tough, I’ve played Adrian a lot,” said Selby.

“I was aware that he was going to be tough on that court because he takes the ball in so well, but I managed to force the errors out of him and my length was good today. I put him under pressure with my length, I could have taken the ball in a little bit better, but it was just one of those days where everything was working well, so I just stuck at it.

“I put in a hard summer’s training, changed a few things and it’s paying off. I’m as fit now as I was when I was in my mid-twenties, which is a good thing because I’m playing better squash now. Those two things mean that the results are showing and I’ve got to keep going and keep riding the wave.

“I’ll see how far I can get in this one, you never what can happen. Ryan [Cuskelly] made the semi-finals from qualifying last year, and you see how close all the matches are. Even with the top seeds, the top guys, the depth is so, so big and I think this tournament is really showing it.

“I might be No.19 in the World, but I don’t feel like I can’t have a chance at winning a World Series event.”

Result:
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (48m)

World Champion Gawad Ousts Mohamed

World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad was forced all the way to five games by a dogged challenge from fellow Egyptian Zahed Mohamed, eventually coming through to reach the quarter-final stage of this tournament for the third straight year.

The lead changed hands multiple times during a high-quality affair, with Gawad twice seeing a one-game lead wiped out by Mohamed, who dug in and hit a number of sumptuous winners against his in-form compatriot.

But a fast start to the fifth game from Gawad saw the 25-year-old finally break Mohamed’s resistance, and he recorded an 13-11, 9-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-5 victory to reach the last eight.

“In the fifth it was all about staying strong mentally, so I just wanted to put everything in to grab the first five points” said Gawad.

“It was very important to start the game like this. After the fourth, I thought that it was important to start well as I knew that it would help a lot at the end of the match.

“Since my first tournament here in Qatar, I played really well and I always play well here. I was looking forward to this tournament especially, I've done well the last few tournaments, and I believe I can also do well here.


“Tomorrow is a new day, I will just come on court and focus as if it is the first match and I will try to grab the win.”

The opening two games were tightly-contested, with both players treating the spectators to some free-flowing and entertaining squash as Gawad went ahead on the tie-break, before Mohamed edged the second to bring the match back to all square, despite an outrageous double-fake from Gawad.

Each player then took a game apiece with a feast of sumptuous squash on show, but Gawad built on a 6-1 lead in the fifth to close out the win, ensuring he will take on either compatriot Marwan ElShorbagy or Australian Ryan Cuskelly in the next round.

Result:
[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-2: 13-11, 9-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-5 (58m)

Pilley Masterclass Downs Salazar

A sublime performance from Australian No.1 Cameron Pilley sent the 34-year-old into the quarter-finals of the 2016 Qatar Classic after he dismantled Mexico’s Cesar Salazar in a stunning three-game salvo.

The World No.14 from Yamba dictated the play during their 39-minute encounter and gave Salazar little chance to react as his hard-hitting and accurate shot placement saw him dominate the court, taking the match in straight games to ensure that he will do battle with England’s Daryl Selby for a place in the last four.

Selby leads the head-to-head record between the pair 5-1, and Pilley says that he is going to have to put friendship to one side as he looks to reach a first World Series semi-final of the season.

“We're very good friends, and it's always different playing a friend,” said Pilley.

“Before and after the match, we'll probably be fine, but during the match we're probably just going to want to kill each other.

“Similar to tonight, the same rules apply. For me, I'm just going to try to come out and hit the lines that I did today.

“If I do that, I should get rewarded. I'm going to have to play well to beat him.

“Based on our head-to-heads, he's the favourite, so I'm going to have to try and get a win against him.”

Result:
[8] Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX)3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-4 (39m)

Marwan ElShorbagy Dispatches Cuskelly to Seal Last Eight Berth

World No.7 Marwan ElShorbagy joined older brother Mohamed in the quarter-final stage after defeating Australian No.2 Ryan Cuskelly 3-0 to secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the World Series tournament

Both players put in fine attacking displays in the opening two games, with ElShorbagy coming through in the opener to build up a one-game lead after just shading it in the tie-break.


World No.16 Cuskelly recovered in the second to go 8-3 up, but ElShorbagy battled back, with his furious pace enabling him to push his opponent to the back of the court before moving in for the kill at the front.

Cuskelly started well again in the third, going 5-1 ahead, before the previously free-flowing encounter turned into a procession of lets and stroked, with both players being cautioned with conduct warnings. ElShorbagy soon took hold though and closed out a 15-13, 13-11, 11-7 victory to reach the last eight in Qatar for the first time.

“I’m happy with the way I played, Cusk has improved a lot in the last couple of seasons, so to get a 3-0 win against him is a good result,” said ElShorbagy.

“He had a tough match yesterday, and I think he felt it a little bit today half-way through the third game. I had to try and make the rallies longer as much as I could. I didn’t mind if I lost it, but I just wanted it to be long.

“The ball died by the end of each game, and my short game was good today, I think. It’s good to play a 60-minute match and now it’s time to do some recovery work. Tomorrow, there’s no pressure as I’m playing the World Champion, and I just want to enjoy it.

“Karim [Abdel Gawad] has been playing very well, he’s a great player and I enjoy watching him a lot. Tomorrow, I have to be fresh and I have to be more than 100 per cent to have a chance to get a win against him.

“I’m looking forward to being on court with a World Champion.”

Result:
[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) 3-0: 15-13, 13-11, 11-7 (60m)

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