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Zahed Salem in action

CIB Black Ball Open RD1: Salem Sees Off Mueller

Egypt’s Zahed Salem got the better of Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller as the men’s 2020 CIB Black Ball Squash Open got under way in Cairo, Egypt at the Black Ball Sporting Club.

Mueller is known on tour as the ‘Swiss Rocket’ but he wasn’t able to live up to that nickname in the opening stages of the first two games as Salem surged out of the blocks each time.

Salem played at a fast pace throughout and frequently negotiated any challenges Mueller threw at him although he did squander six game balls in the second game as Mueller fought back from 10-4 down.

The man from Switzerland even held a game ball of his own but was unable to capitalise as Salem finally took the win on the-break, his eighth game ball.

Salem took his foot of the gas in the third though as World No.30 Mueller opened up a 5-1 lead courtesy of some more positive, attacking squash and he soon halved the deficit.

However, the momentum flipped completely in the fourth as Mueller soon found himself 7-1 behind as Salem closed out an 11-8, 14-12, 6-11, 11-6 victory in 48 minutes to reach round two.

“I’m happy to play again here in Egypt,” Salem said.

“Nicky is a tough opponent. That’s the third time we’ve played together and it’s always tough and close. Last time I played was at the Pyramids and I couldn’t play Qatar, so it’s my first match in about a month and I’m happy to be through and to win in four.

“I’m sure it’s tough for everyone and for us as players, it [2020] hasn’t been good at all. I had to keep myself positive, always training and look for more matches to play. It was tough but it’s good sometimes to be by yourself and recover.

“I’m grateful to play here and I hope I can play well.”

[16] Zahed Salem (EGY) bt Nicolas Mueller (SUI) 3-1: 11-8, 14-12, 6-11, 11-6 (48m)

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