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Cindy Merlo

CIB EGYPTIAN OPEN DAY ONE: AS IT HAPPENS - COURTS 3 & 4

The CIB Egyptian Open gets under way in Cairo today, as players compete for a piece of the $590,000 prize fund, the highest total player compensation ever at a PSA Platinum event.

You can follow the action from courts three and four here, where the likes of British Open quarter finalist Youssef Soliman and former World No.5 Borja Golan will be in action.

You can keep up with the live scores from the event here.

All times are local (GMT+2)

Court 3
12:00 Mayar Hany (EGY) v Cindy Merlo (SUI)
12:45 Arturo Salazar (MEX) v Max Lee (HKG)
13:45 Farida Mohamed (EGY) v Anna Serme (CZE)
14:30 Tsz Kwan Lau (HKG) v Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP)
17:00 Melissa Alves (FRA) v Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG)
17:45 Ramit Tandon (IND) v Borja Golan (ESP)
18:45 Menna Nasser (EGY) v Milou van der Heijden (NED)
19:30 Lucas Serme (FRA) v Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA)

Watch action from court three here:

Court 4
12:00 [WC] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) v Alexandra Fuller (RSA)
12:45 Todd Harrity (USA) v Syed Azlan Amjad (QAT)
13:45 Vanessa Chu (HKG) v Lucy Turmel (ENG)
14:30 Youssef Soliman (EGY) v Auguste Dussourd (FRA)
17:00 Mariam Metwally (EGY) v Tze Lok Ho (HKG)
17:45 Martin Svec (CZE) v Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT)
18:45 Hana Moataz (EGY) v Nada Abbas (EGY)
19:30 Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) v Faraz Khan (USA)

Watch action from court four here:

Merlo wins see-saw match

Cindy Merlo

Switzerland’s Cindy Merlo came from behind to beat Egypt’s Mayar Hany 3-2 in an entertaining match.

24-year-old Hany made short work of Merlo in the first, taking the opening game 11-4 inside five minutes. However, 23-year-old Merlo hit back well, taking the second 11-6, only for Hany to regain the initiative with an 11-7 in the third.

The Swiss player did well to fight back again, setting up a thrilling fifth game with an 11-9 win in the fourth and this time, Merlo held her nerve, taking the final game 11-5 to seal the match.

“To be honest, it was very weird,” said Merlo. “Sometimes we had very good rallies, and sometimes, I have to say from my side that it was so weird, so it was a lot of up and downs.

“I keep coming to these tournaments and I never manage to win the first round. So already, I was sort of emotional. So I was thinking oh this could be happening, this could be possible, and at other times, it was “oh, there we go, as usual, it’s not going to work, I’m not playing well today”.

“I just had to keep fighting for myself, trying to keep it going and see what happens. I am overwhelmed, I’m not sure what happened, how I won the match.

“With COVID, our schedule has been completely overthrown, so I’m taking day by day: what the government says, what PSA is organising, if there is a tournament I’m very happy, if there is none, it’s just training training training, day by day, trying to keep motivated.”

Result: Cindy Merlo (SUI) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-2: 4-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-9, 11-5 (32m)

No fairytale for Aboelkheir after Fuller defeat

Alexandra Fuller

Alexandra Fuller progressed to the second round after beating spirited 15-year-old wildcard Fayrouz Aboelkheir 3-0.

South African Fuller, playing in her first Egyptian Open, looked assured throughout, ruthlessly dashing any fairytale hopes for Egypt’s Aboelkheir with 11-8, 11-5 and 11-3 wins.

Result: Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt [WC] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-3 (24m)

Salazar progresses after entertaining bout

Arturo Salazar

Arturo Salazar progressed to the second round after a battling 3-1 win over Max Lee.

In an even contest, the two 33-year-olds traded the first and second games, with Salazar taking the first 12-10 and Lee taking the second by the same scoreline.

Salazar took the third game more comfortably, beating Lee 11-4, before seeing off his opponent in a tense fourth game, 13-11.

Speaking after the match, Salazar said: “It was a very tough first round, Max had a very good ranking, so it’s always difficult to play against somebody with that much experience. So I am very pleased to have won today.

“Tomorrow, I hope I can play as well as I did today, but hopefully with a bit more confidence, as I’m going to play now a good friend in the next round, Miguel. We know each other well, we played a lot in the past together, so I will try to play with my gameplan, with a solid strategy, but most importantly, I want to enjoy the match.”

Result: Arturo Salazar (MEX) bt Max Lee (HKG) 3-1: 12-10, 10-12, 11-4, 13-11 (47m)

Harrity joins 100 club

Todd Harrity

USA’s Todd Harrity secured his 100th PSA Tour win and is through to the second round after beating Qatar’s Syed Azlan Amjad 3-1.

Harrity, 30, looked to be cruising to the second round after taking the first games 11-3 and 11-5.

24-year-old Amjad, though, struck back to take the third 11-9.

Any hope of an Amjad comeback was quickly snuffed out by Harrity, who took the fourth 11-3.

Afterwards, Harrity said: “It was a strange match. I was a bit tense coming on court, I'd never played him, never seen him on court, plus first round opening matches can be a bit uncertain.

“I still played well kind of in the first two games, like we are good, I was on song, and then, in the third, he started playing very well, [he had] nothing to lose and was going for shots. And he’s got good skills.

“I tried to focus again and fight back but it was too late, but in the fourth game, I was very focused, like now I know how well he can play, just stick to the game plan, focus on what you are doing, don’t get distracted and fortunately it was good enough today.

“I’m happy to be through, it’s kind of exciting for me to get through those first round matches now. If I look at the seeding, I should play Iker, so it's a tough match. There are no easy matches, but everyone is beatable.”

Result: Todd Harrity (USA) bt Syed Azlan Amjad (QAT) 3-1: 11-3, 11-5, 9-11, 11-3 (38m)

Mohamed sees off Serme

Farida Mohamed

Highly-rated Egyptian 19-year-old Farida Mohamed beat 30-year-old Anna Serme 3-0 in the pair’s first meeting to progress to the second round.

World No.34 Mohamed, who made the last 16 in the 2020 Egyptian Open, started the match strongly, beating the Czech World No.56 11-9.

Mohamed continued to dominate in the second and third games, taking them 11-6 and 11-7.

After the match, Mohamed said: “I was so excited to play today. Because of the COVID situation and Egypt being on the UK red list, I had to miss the last two events, plus, the one before I didn’t play really well.

“Incredibly, I’m playing again Sarah Jane tomorrow, exactly like last year, second round, same event, where I beat her 3-0. I know this time she will be ready for me, but who knows!? I know for sure it won’t be easy, not like last time, it will be harder, because of course she wants her revenge, but I’m so excited to play.”

Result: Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt Anna Serme (CZE) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-7 (24m)

Turmel takes care of Chu

Lucy Turmel

World No.28 Lucy Turmel produced a confident performance to beat Hong Kong’s World No.64 Vanessa Chu and progress to the second round.

In a tight first game, 21-year-old Turmel emerged the victor, edging out her 26-year-old opponent 11-9.

The second and third games were a simpler affair, with Turmel taking them 11-6 and 11-5 to seal a 24-minute win.

“Sometimes players like Vanessa can put the ball away very easily. Part of my game plan was to be solid and try hard to break her down and make her have to hit winners from difficult positions, which she did. She went for a few shots, a few came off but quite a few hit the tin,” Turmel said afterwards.

She added: “The rallies weren’t long so not hard physically, a short match. But hopefully the short sharp rallies will sharpen me up for tomorrow’s match. I played Cindy at the British Open just gone, so I know how she plays quite similar to Vanessa actually, she goes for her shots and quite tricky and skilful. Looking forward to it!”

Result: Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Vanessa Chu (HKG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-6, 11-5 (24m)

Pajares holds off Lau comeback

Iker Pajares Bernabeu

Iker Pajares Bernabeu survived a dramatic fightback from Tsz Kwan Lau to progress to the second round.


World No.34 Pajares went into the match the favourite against Hong Kong’s World No.73 Lau and it initially looked like the Spaniard would progress in relative comfort.

The 25-year-old took the first two games 11-5 and 11-8, only for Lau to come roaring back with hard-fought 11-9 and 11-13 wins.

Either player could well have won the fifth and when Lau had match ball at 10-9, Pajares may have feared the worst.

Now, though, it was Pajares’ turn to shock, as he wrestled match ball away from Lau, eventually sealing a 12-10 win against a distraught Lau.

“I was two match balls down, I had also a match ball in the third I think,” said the Spaniard afterwards.

“To be honest, I was not expecting such a performance from him. It was the first time playing him. He’s got a very unorthodox game, he drops a lot, then lobs it. You’ve got to do a lot of jumping and bending all the time. It was a lot of work.

“I had to push to the limit. I knew I was not at my best after being forced to pull out from the British, I had a small injury in my foot again.

“I was 2-0 up, controlling the game, feeling very good, and then everything changed. He started to play that tricky game, drop lob, drop lob, and he got me. I was very tired, and I had to push very very hard mentally.

“I’m very happy to save two match points, and to make it to the next round.”

Result: Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Tsz Kwan Lau (HKG) 3-2: 11-5, 11-8, 9-11, 11-13, 12-10 (74m)

Soliman survives scares to see off Dussourd

Youssef Soliman

Youssef Soliman produced another spectacular comeback to defeat Auguste Dussourd 3-2.

Soliman will once again be thanking his powers of recovery. On his route to the British Open quarter finals, Soliman captured headlines for his dramatic win from two games down against World No.7 Fares Dessouky.

Unlike in that match, however, Solimani went into this one as the favourite. The 24-year-old Egyptian sat some 39 places ahead of Dussourd, with the 25-year-old Frenchman ranked World No.59.

Soliman, though, soon found himself in hot water. Dussourd could not have asked to have made a stronger start, as he took the first two games 11-6 and 11-4.

Soliman, however, rallied spectacularly, levelling the match with comprehensive 11-1 and 11-3 wins.

With the match delightfully poised, it was Soliman who was eventually able to emerge victorious, snatching the fifth game 11-8.

“Today I am not happy with my game at all,” said Soliman.

“You know when you get to a match and you feel you are playing a practice match and not in a tournament. That’s how I felt today.

“I was hitting tins in the first game, and in the second, I was 8-0 down. I kept saying to myself, what’s going on. I was struggling to get into the match.

“When I found myself at 2-0 down I said ‘alright, here we go” and I just kept hitting the ball hard, trying to get into it. That’s part of the tournament sometimes to try and just find a way. I kept grinding, grinding, and eventually, it worked.

“I think he took his chances today, all credit to him. He kept attacking, using his forehand kills and drops, smacking them, I wasn’t ready for it, and he kept playing them. So I had to adapt my game not to expose my movement.

“Tomorrow, Tarek [Momen] is waiting. I played him twice, I lost 3/1, I got close in Chicago, I thought I played well. I feel like my body is alright. I wanted to get into the mindset of the tournament, and that match sure did just that.”

Result: Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 3-2: 6-11, 4-11, 11-1, 11-3, 11-8 (74m)

Metwally and Alves Start Strong

Mariam Metwally

Egypt’s Mariam Metwally and France’s Melissa Alves got their CIB Egyptian Open campaigns off to winning starts with respective wins over Hong Kong’s Tze Lok Ho and Tsz-Wing Tong.

World No.33 Metwally confidently dispatched Tze Lok 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 to book her place in the second round of the PSA Platinum event, where she will face either Hana Moataz or Nada Abbas.

Metwally stormed into a two-game lead before the Hong Kong player fought back in the third to push it all the way to a tie-break, but it was the Egyptian who held her nerve to convert and close out the victory in 30 minutes.

“I felt good today, I think I played quite well. Actually last time we played, I was 2-0 up and she won 3-2, it was in Al-Ahram,” said the Egyptian afterwards. “I’m so happy to win today, glad I was able to stick to my game plan.

“Still when I was up 2-0, I got stressed because I remembered what happened last time, I had flashbacks.

“Tomorrow the winner of Nada Abbas and Hana Moataz awaits. It won’t be easy against either of them, but I hope I can do well.”

Melissa Alves

Alves, meanwhile, also got off to a strong start going 2-0 up before Tsz-Wing came back in the third to reduce the deficit and put some pressure on France’s World No.26.

However, the 27-year-old was able to resharpen her focus to close out 11-4 in the fourth to set up a second-round clash with USA’s Olivia Clyne.

“First round is always tough, to start with, it’s the first match of the event, and added the stress of being a seed, you always have the extra pressure to hold your seeding,” said Alves.

“She played very well, she did everything she needed to to make me doubt. I was trying to keep the ball in play and control the rallies, and trying to unsettle her. Which to be fair I think I managed as the match went along.

“I’m happy to get through the first round, that’s the main thing, forget the how, it just need to be done. What makes the difference today is the fact I just kept the ball in play. I was less comfortable on the attack than she was, so the only way I had to win tday was to keep the ball coming back, and be more solid in the end.

“I managed to make her make a few too many errors, whereas she was playing more shots than I was. But I got her to get the errors/winners ratio in the red.

“Truly happy to get to play Olivia tomorrow, I think I’ve got all my chances, and at the end of the day, a tough opening match is a good thing, it gets you in the fighting spirit.”

Results:
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt Tze Lok Ho (HKG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 12-10 (30m)
Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Tsz-Wing Tong (HKG) 3-1: 11-6, 13-11, 10-12, 11-7 (46m)

Tandon and Tamimi Triumph

Ramit Tandon in action against Borja Golan

India’s Ramit Tandon and Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi are both off the mark with wins on day one in Giza, Egypt following their victories over Spain’s Borja Golan and Czech Republic’s Martin Svec, respectively.

Tandon’s last win over the Spaniard had come in a 3-2 thriller back in 2017, however, the Indian claimed a much more straight-forward victory over the former World No.5 this time around as he produced a composed and measured display to triumph 11-7, 11-7, 11-7.

Up next for Tandon will be either France’s Lucas Serme or Sebastian Bonmalais in round two.

“Borja is such a legend of the game,” said Tandon afterwards. “It’s the third time I was playing with him, we were one all before this. He is such a warrior, every time you step on court with him, his fighting spirit is really something we can learn from.

“Irrespective of the fact that as an athlete there are days where you are playing really well, and other days you are not playing as well, certain aspects of the game you cannot control, but the attitude and the fighting spirit is something that we can all control and is a perfect role model of that.

“Whether he’s got bad days or good days, like all of us but that fighting spirit is always constant and something I wish I could borrow.

“I’ve been working with my fitness coach, Anwar Wahhab. He is trying to remodel the fitness to incorporate the mental aspect as well, a bit like the balance between the mind and the body.

“The lockdown helped me actually, the squash clubs were shut, so I set up a little gym at home. I had a little bit of a break, and I cherish now because I know what it is to be at a desk. I know how blessed we are to be able to express ourselves on the court. And I want to do well to be able to keep doing it.

“The more time I spend of on it, the physical side is getting better. After leaving my desk job, for the first two years, I had a lot of injuries because my body hadn’t gone to the training. At least, those injuries have now calmed down. Still some improvements to do in that aspect, but I’m improving.”

Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi

Meanwhile, Tamimi will face either Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini or USA’s Faraz Khan in the next round following his 14-12, 11-2, 11-5 victory over Svec.

Svec on his first appearance at a Platinum event showcased his best as he caught Tamimi off guard in the first game to force the Qatari to a tie-break. However, the higher seed did just enough to hold on and take the first game.

That first game looked to have taken a lot out of the Czech, who was making his 100th PSA appearance, as he struggled to keep up with Tamimi in the second as he comfortably doubled his lead before closing out 11-5 in the third.

“Nowadays, you realise there are no easy matches,” said Tamimi afterwards. “The belief I have in myself, the training hard, the trying to push up the rankings even the top players, the belief I can beat anyone, I’m sure every single player has the same mentality these days because you see a lot of upsets.

“We actually haven’t played since the U15 final Austrian Open, and he took me to five. It’s been a long time since we last played, I must have been one metre tall.

“I knew he was going to be really tough in the first game, that I had to make sure I’d win this somehow. Because he was hitting everything, going for the attack, volleying in front of of the T, so he surprised me a little bit, but I managed to win at the end of the game, although I was 10-8 down.

“Then I knew I got him after that. I had a good lead in the second and third, and it was pretty comfortable after that.”

Results:
Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) bt Martin Svec (CZE) 3-0: 14-12, 11-2, 11-5 (29m)
Ramit Tandon (IND) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-7 (41m)

Abbas and van der Heijden Progress

Nada Abbas

Egypt’s Nada Abbas and Netherlands’ Milou van der Heijden are through to the second round of the CIB Egyptian Open following wins over Egypt’s Hana Moataz and Menna Nasser, respectively.

World No.27 Abbas came out on top in the all-Egyptian battle against World No.61 Moataz to set up a second round battle with compatriot Mariam Metwally tomorrow.

Abbas took the first game comfortably, before Moataz struck back in the second to draw level. The two battled it out in a tight third game, which went the way of the higher-ranked player on the tie-break before Abbas closed out 11-6 in the fourth.

Milou van der Heijden

Van der Heijden, on the other hand, enjoyed a comfortable straight games victory over her opponent as she executed her game plan to perfection to triumph 11-9, 11-2, 11-6 in just 23 minutes.

She will face USA’s World No.6 Amanda Sobhy for a place in the third round.

Results:
Milou van der Heijden (NED) bt Menna Nasser (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 11-2, 11-6 (23m)
Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-1: 11-3, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6 (39m)

ElSherbini and Serme Put Through Their Paces

Mohamed ElSherbini

Egypt’s Mohamed ElSherbini and France’s Lucas Serme were both made to work hard to book their respective places in the second round of the PSA Platinum event in Giza following 3-1 wins over USA’s Faraz Khan and France’s Sebastien Bonmalais.

World No.31 ElSherbini looked as though he had got off to the dream start in his match against Khan as he found himself 8-1 up, before the American player steadied himself and got back in contention to 10-6 before the Egyptian was able to close out.

The second was closer still, but once again it was ElSherbini who held his nerve to go 2-0 up, an impressive third game from World No.61 Khan saw him get a foothold back in the match as he showed his own impressive skill to take it.

The comeback looked as though it was well and truly on in the fourth with both players testing the other’s resolve before ElSherbini eventually closed out on the tie-break. Up next for him will be a second round clash against Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi.

Lucas Serme

Serme, on court three, meanwhile was also put through his paces as he battled it out with compatriot Bonmalais in the all-French tie.

World No.39 Serme impressed in the opening two games to take the lead as he looked as though he was heading for a straight-games victory, before Bonmalais had other ideas to rally back in the third and take it 11-3.

Serme was forced to sharpen his focus in the fourth as the World No.58 kept throwing everything he had at the 29-year-old, but it was Serme who dealt with the bigger points better to take the win.

He will face India’s Ramit Tandon for a place in the third round.

Results:
Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 15-13 (70m)
Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) bt Faraz Khan (USA) 3-1: 11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 12-10 (63m)

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