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Ramy Ashour

Bellevue Classic Day Two - As it Happens

Follow us here for reports and reaction from day two of the 2017 Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic held at Bellevue's Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House.

Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour makes his comeback from the hamstring strain that saw limp out of his semi-final fixture in March's Allam British Open.

The enigmatic Egyptian takes on the 'Swiss Rocket' Nicolas Mueller, while number two seed Marwan ElShorbagy will take on Malaysian qualifier Nafiizwan Adnan.

World No.8 Ali Farag completes the Egyptian interest on day two against tournament wildcard Dylan Cunningham, with Ryan Cuskelly and Stephen Coppinger the other pair in action.

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 for SQUASHTV & Eurosport Player
(All times are local PDT)
17:00 [3] Ali Farag (EGY) v [WC] Dylan Cunningham (USA)
18:00 Stephen Coppinger (RSA) v [8] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS)
19:00 [5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) v [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
20:00 [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) v [2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)

Farag Cruises Past Cunningham to Seal Last Eight Berth

Ali Farag

Egyptian World No.8 Ali Farag got his Pacific Market International Bellevue Squash Classic campaign off to a strong start after he claimed a comfortable win over tournament wildcard Dylan Cunningham.

The pair – separated by 145 places in the World Rankings – were both prolific players on the Collegiate Squash Association circuit and traded points at the beginning of all three games, with Cunningham – who attended Franklin And Marshall – forcing Farag into a series of lengthy rallies.

But Farag’s experience on the biggest stage eventually came to the fore as the 25-year-old took control in the latter stages of each game, claiming an 11-4, 11-5, 11-4 victory in just 24 minutes to seal a quarter-final berth at the PSA M100 tournament.

“I treat every match the same, whether you're playing against the World No.1 or whatever player it is,” said Harvard-graduate Farag.

“Dylan is not a top 150 player, I think he's a better calibre than that, he proved it today, he played well and played some solid rallies. I tried to retain my focus from the first point onwards until the end.

“I'm very happy to see lots of collegiate players turning pro, it shows just how great our sport is. We've all got good degrees that we could do a lot things with, but we play this sport because of how great it is and hopefully that brings the sport up a notch.

“At the end of the season, every minute you can spare on court is crucial. I'm happy that I stayed focused until the very end and I didn't give him any loose shots to lengthen the match.

“I love Bellevue, I love the Khan family [Tournament Promoters], I love the set up and they take very good care of the players. I just hope it's another breakthrough tournament this time.”

Cunningham said: “I was frustrated because I had a game plan, which was to straighten everything because he loves the angles, and I think I sort of managed to do that at times and put him under pressure, but I needed a roller every time to get a point. Every time I would open the court a bit, I would get punished.

“I think I learned today to stick to my game like I never did before and really focus on trying to play my own game and not fall into his. I needed to concentrate on setting up the rallies the way I wanted them rather than trying to get outrageous winners.

“A huge thank you to Shabana [Khan] for giving me the opportunity to play in this great setting on the glass court. I hope that one day I’ll get to play in such an event on my own merit. But at the moment, I have only appreciation and gratitude for Shabana for inviting me here.”

Result
[3] Ali Farag (EGY) bt [WC] Dylan Cunningham (USA) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-4 (24m)

Cuskelly Holds Off Coppinger to Set Up Farag Clash

Ryan Cuskelly takes on Stephen Coppinger

Australian No.1 Ryan Cuskelly weathered an early storm from South Africa’s Stephen Coppinger to set up a quarter-final meeting with World No.8 Ali Farag.

Coppinger had got the better of Cuskelly in five of their six previous meetings on the PSA World Tour and it was the World No.20 who was the more clinical of the pair in the opening stages as he dominated the middle of the court and hit the ball short to take the first game.


A strong start from World No.14 Cuskelly in game two saw the 29-year-old prevail in some quick-fire rallies and he took the first three points before going on to hold Coppinger at arm’s length to draw level.

And from there, Coppinger struggled to match the consistency he displayed in the first game – making a number of crucial errors in the fourth game in particular – as Cuskelly moved on to close out a 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 triumph to seal his place in the last eight.

“He went out straight away and started attacking and it's hard when someone is going short right away because you can't get any rhythm,” said Cuskelly.


“I had to change my game and start attacking early because it's quite dead out there and it rewards a good shot. I was looking to hit one good length and then take the ball in short and that's what he did well in the first game and I just copied what he did in the next three.

“It was still tough though because he was going short pretty much every shot.

“Ali’s had some good results, he made the final in Grasshopper last week and I'm looking forward to it. I think it's 1-1 this season, so hopefully I can end the season 2-1 up against him.”

Result
[8] Ryan Cuskelly (AUS) bt Stephen Coppinger (RSA) 3-1: 6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 (49m)

Ramy Returns With Win Over Mueller

Ramy Ashour (left) v Nicolas Mueller (right)

Three-time World Champion Ramy Ashour marked his return from a two-month injury lay off with a 3-0 victory over ‘Swiss Rocket’ Nicolas Mueller to reach the quarter-final stage.

The enigmatic 29-year-old has been out of action with a hamstring strain sustained during his Allam British Open semi-final fixture in March and he recovered from a slow start to best Mueller in 32 minutes, despite struggling with illness before the match.

Mueller – who was 6-0 down on the pair’s head-to-head record – came close to taking a one-game lead after going 8-6 up in the opener, but Ashour held his nerve in the crucial moments to rattle off five successive points to go ahead.

World No.7 Ashour pulled away from the mid-way point of the second game to double his lead and was firing on all cylinders by the time the match drew to a close, holding well and even pulling off an exhibition-style fake and drop as he wowed the crowd at Bellevue’s Boys and Girls Club Hidden Valley Field House to take the win in straight games.


“I just wanted to play well, he's very quick with his hands, so I was trying to contain him,” Ashour said.

“It worked sometimes, sometimes it didn't, but it went my way in the end and I'm glad it did. I remember last time we played in Switzerland, it was one of the toughest times. It was in five [games], it was a full house and it was an electrifying atmosphere.

“I had that in the back of my head and that's why I was prepared. I had some complications earlier, but I was prepared. Other than that, I'm excited to be back in Bellevue.

“It's very well organised, people know what they're watching, so it's good I'm back here. I feel comfortable being here.”

Ashour also touched on the mental difficulties of coping with injury over the past three years, saying: “When you get to the top and find a place that you're happy with, you've got to try and stay there which is harder. But this is how we feel good about ourselves, that's how we feel satisfied and contented.

“This is how we do it and I don't think any of us would really feel okay about ourselves if we didn't have this fight. It's great, I think we have a golden era at the moment.

“There are so many players and everyone is pushing each other, so it's good to be playing against these incredible athletes.”

Result
[5] Ramy Ashour (EGY) bt [Q] Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-0: 11-8, 11-7, 11-8 (32m)

ElShorbagy Comes Through Adnan Challenge

Marwan ElShorbagy

World No.5 Marwan ElShorbagy will go head-to-head with Ramy Ashour in an all-Egyptian quarter-final encounter after he overcame Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan by a 3-1 margin.

It was the pair’s first ever meeting on the PSA World Tour and ElShorbagy looked to have got the better of his opponent in the opening game after building up two game balls courtesy of some consistent hitting amidst some high-octane exchanges between the two.

Adnan fought back to hold a game ball himself, but he squandered the opportunity to establish a lead as ElShorbagy came out swinging and it was the man from Egypt who took the opener 13-11.

Adnan rose through the gears in the second as the 31-year-old hit the ball deep into the back corners to force some errors and loose shots from ElShorbagy.

However, the momentum shifted back in ElShorbagy’s favour in the third game as the Bristol-based 23-year-old began to reassert his control on proceedings, eventually coming through to prevail 13-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8.

“We’ve never played against each other in a tournament before, but he’s playing at his highest World Ranking right now and he’s been playing great squash – he’s a great player,” said ElShorbagy.

“We knew each other’s games a bit because we’ve practised together, he lives in Manchester and I live in Bristol. I know that’s a bit far, but we’ve practised together a few times.

“It was tough and that last game was really important for me, so I’m really happy to win in four games.

“I’ve got a big match tomorrow against Ramy, he’s a great player, so I’m looking forward to that match tomorrow. I always enjoy going on court with Ramy, he’s a great ambassador for our sport. It’s a shame that he keeps getting injured, but just having him here is amazing for us.

“I’m really happy to go on court with him tomorrow, I’ll just try and make the most of it. I’ve grown up watching him, so the fact that I will be on court with him tomorrow is huge for me. I’m excited for the match against him.”

Result
[2] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-1: 13-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-8 (44m)

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