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World No.1 and World Champion Ali Farag begins his search for the El Gouna crown this evening

El Gouna International - Day 3 Glass Court: As It Happens

The third day’s play continues at Abu Tig Marina this evening, as the glass court makes its debut at the 2019 El Gouna International Squash Open.

Twelve second round matches have already taken place on the traditional courts at El Gouna Squash Complex this afternoon ahead of this evening's action.

The evening's action gets underway at 18:30 local (GMT+2), as the Egyptian quartet of Ali Farag, Tarek Momen, Raneem el Welily and Nour El Tayeb get their El Gouna campaigns underway on the three courts in use.

They will face off against Australian Cameron Pilley, Egypt's Zahed Salem, eight-time World Champion Nicol David, and 42-year-old Rachael Grinham respectively.

Join us here for reports and reaction, or watch LIVE on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) or the PSA World Tour Facebook page (excluding Europe & Japan).

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Schedule – Glass Court

You can also catch up with what happened at the side courts at El Gouna Squash Complex earlier today here.

The Current World No.1 Downs the Former World No.1

Raneem el Welily (l) and Nicol David (r) in action on the glass court

Raneem El Welily is through to the third round of the El Gouna International after she defeated eight-time World Champion Nicol David.

The pair had met a whopping 27 times on the PSA Tour before, with David having won two-thirds of them, although Welily had succeeded in the last six.

The current World No.1 took control of the match, the first on the glass court at Abu Tig Marina, from the very first rally, winning the first 11-4.

Although the Malaysian looked to battle back in the second and third games, Welily had enough to win both to take the match, and move into the third round of the tournament.

“I am really happy to have been on court with Nicol again. I was looking at the head-to-head right before the match and we have played so many times,” Welily said after the match.

“To play with her one last time, probably one last time because nothing is sure. However, to play with hear one last time, especially in Egypt, is an absolutely fantastic feeling for me. This past month, I have been spending a lot of time with her. We had an exhibition tournament in Birmingham and that was a special week for me.

“I spent so much time with her off court, for the first time ever so this past month has been really special for me, getting to know her a bit better. It has been a long journey and I am proud to have shared some of it with her, at least.”

David said: “I have so many great memories of Egypt, I had such great battles with Raneem, so finishing in Egypt against her is very special. She is so solid, she is such in great form at the moment, she won a tournament last week, she is World No.1, and had a great season.”

“Today I had to take my chances when I could because I knew Raneem would do it if I didn’t. If the shot went in, it was good.”

[1] Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Nicol David (MAS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (26m)

World No.1 Farag battles past Pilley at Abu Tig

Ali Farag (r) and Cameron Pilley in action

Current Men’s World Champion Ali Farag is through to the third round of the El Gouna International after beating Australia’s Cameron Pilley this evening.

The Egyptian, who sits at World No.1, got off to a good start in the first, but the Yamba-native bounced back, and had game balls to win the opener.

However, Farag was able to save both, and turned the game on its head to win it 14-12. He then took the second 11-7 to take a commanding lead in the match.

The Australian continued to play well, though, and eventually got a game on the board, his first in four matches against the World Champion.

Farag would win the fourth game to take the match, though, and move through to the third round of the tournament.

“I actually think I started off well, and then the conditions were really tough, so I think the experience played a role here and he knew how to play them better,” Farag said of Pilley.

“I think I was slightly off the mark because the turnaround between here and Holland was really short. The last person you want to play against when you are slightly flat is Cameron because he can cut you off in the middle of the court, and he did that really well in the first three [games].

“Thankfully, I think, at the end of the fourth he got a little tired and I think I took advantage of that. At all points [of the match] I was on my toes because I know he is a tough competitor.

“He understands the game really well. He is renowned for his hard-hitting but what people don’t really appreciate is how clean he hits the ball. It is very clean and he hits his targets every shot. It is not easy to play against him but I am glad I could pull through.”

Pilley said: ““I am happy with the way I played for 90% of the match. Against someone like Ali, you can’t take your foot off the pedal too much and you need to keep your concentration throughout the whole match,” Pilley admitted.

“I had leads in the first game. I earned myself a couple of game balls but I couldn’t quite get it. I played well and I was happy with how I played, there was just a few patches where I dropped the concentration and he is very good at recognising when his opponent has dropped a little bit and he takes advantage.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-1: 14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (54m)

El Tayeb Breezes Past Grinham

Nour El Tayeb (r) is through to the third round after beating Rachael Grinham

World No.3 Nour el Tayeb took just 18 minutes to overcome 42-year-old Rachael Grinham and advance to the third round of the El Gouna International.

Tayeb, 16 years younger than her opponent, came out firing from the off, and took the first game in just four minutes, only allowing the Australian to score two points.

She continued at a rapid pace and won the match inside the twenty minute mark, moving through to the last 16 with an 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 victory.

“It is a huge honour to play against Rachael. I grew up watching her and when I was 10, 12 years old, she used to play at the club where I am based,” Tayeb said after beating the Aussie.

“I used to watch her and I learned a lot from her, on both a personal level and on the squash court. For me, every time I get goosebumps when I play against her because it is always extra special. I enjoyed the match right to the end and I am very happy with how I played.

“Obviously the court conditions are completely different to any court we play on given the wind. I am sure Rachael is used to it because she has played on this court in Hurghada 10 or 15 years ago maybe, so I knew she would be smart.

“I had to be ready for her short deceptive game and I think I was and I tried to add and copy her a bit. I am glad it went my way for the whole match and hopefully I can be ready for the day after tomorrow.”

Grinham said: “Normally I do like a bit of a dead court, but I was really struggling to connect to the ball tonight, I was struggling to judge the ball because of the wind, and I felt the ball was very heavy. I just couldn’t control the ball and keep her out of the middle and if you can’t do that, she is going to finish it off.”

[3] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 (18m)

Momen on Form to Beat Salem

Tarek Momen in action against Zahed Salem

World No.3 Tarek Momen got his campaign under way with a fine performance against fellow Egyptian Zahed Salem in the final match of day three.

Momen, 31, has reached three successive PSA Tour finals and his fine form showed no sign of abating against World No.16 Salem as he completed an 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 victory to record a third straight win over his younger compatriot.

The pair were meeting for the first time since the 2017 PSA World Championships, and it was Salem who found his range early on as he attacked the front corners well to go 9-6 up in game one.

Momen moved up the gears though as his talents came to the fore, and he rattled off a succession of winners, with some deceptive trickle boasts and inch-perfect drops from the back of the court seeing him take five points in a row to take the opener.

In the second, it was the Momen show as spectators at Abu Tig Marina watched the World Championship runner-up display his impressive skills en route to claiming an 11-5 victory in game two.

Salem improved in the third as he was able to push ahead to 8-5, while he weathered a late storm from Momen to halve the deficit.

But Momen responded by going short, and his superior accuracy saw him dominate the fourth to earn his place in the last 16.

“I'm quite pleased with how I played today because going into the first round in El Gouna is always tricky,” Momen said.

“The outdoor conditions are always variable, and you're not sure how to handle them. I was very happy to get a good start, I thought I was playing very well from the beginning, but then he surprised me with some quick winners, and all of a sudden I found myself 8-4 down in the first, even though I felt that I was in control.

“It took me by surprise and I had to do something about it. I was very happy to turn that around and win the first 11-9. It was a crucial one, and I had the momentum.

“Maybe in the third, I was a bit on edge, he played really well and he managed to sneak it 11-9. Eventually, I took charge again in the fourth, and I was very happy to get the win in four games and not make it hectic and go to five games like I normally do.

“It keeps getting more difficult, but I've had my tough routes throughout the season, and I've been good at dealing with them. Every challenge I get past makes me stronger and gives me more experience. We're heading towards the end of the season, and everyone is tired, but I need to keep pushing if I want to end the season the way it started.”

[3] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 (44m)

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