The men's action at the CIB Squash Open Black Ball begins today with four matches taking place on court 13 at the Black Ball Sporting Club.
Stars such as Miguel Rodriguez, Youssef Ibrahim, Youssef Soliman and Baptiste Masotti will get their events under way.
You can follow all the action from the side courts on this page, while you can also keep up to date with the live scores from the event here.
We'll also be showing live action on SQUASHTV.
Schedule – Court Two
12:00 Youssef Soliman (EGY) v Victor Crouin (FRA)
12:45 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v Patrick Rooney (ENG)
13:45 Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) v Baptiste Masotti (FRA)
14:30 Karim El Hammamy (EGY) v Youssef Ibrahim (EGY)
Soliman Ousts Crouin
Youssef Soliman (left) takes on Victor Crouin (right)
World No.17 Youssef Soliman has moved into the second round of the CIB Squash Open Black Ball after a 3-1 win over Frenchman Victor Crouin that saw him bagel his opponent in the fourth game.
It was only their second meeting on the PSA Tour after a 3-0 Soliman win at the Ralph’s Texas Bar Open in 2018 and the first two games were tight affairs with some high-quality squash on display from both.
Crouin fought back from a game down to level, but from the third game onwards Soliman was in control as he dropped just three points in the third game and then completed an 11-0 victory in the fourth to seal the win.
Up next for Soliman is a last 16 clash with No.4 seed Mostafa Asal.
“I’d only played Victor a few years ago, but I knew it would be a different game,” said Soliman.
“He’s one of the up-and-coming players, he’s hungry and he planned not to make it easy for me. I planned not to make it easy for him too, especially from the start. The first two games were close at 11-9, 9-11, but then I set up my game well in the third.
“He [Mostafa] is a bit of a trouble maker, but it will definitely be an interesting one and a challenge. He’s young but he’s playing mature squash and he’s a top player, you have to accept it. I need to get my tactics right if I want to get through this one, I’m excited and we’ll see how it goes.
“It’s been a rollercoaster year for me, but I’m finishing the year inside the top 20, so I will take this as a positive thing. I will think match by match and I’m totally focused on my match with Mostafa Asal.”
Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Victor Crouin (FRA) 3-1: 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-0 (42m)
Rodriguez Comes From Behind to Beat Rooney
Miguel Rodriguez (right) takes on Patrick Rooney (left)
Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez overcame a one-game deficit to get the better of Englishman Patrick Rooney as he booked his place in the second round.
World No.31 Rooney was on the charge in the opener as his width and length troubled the Colombian and he was able to mount an unassailable lead as he closed out the first game.
35-year-old Rodriguez used his experience though and refused to let the first game defeat get to him. He relaxed on court and hit some sumptuous winners, including one effort where he spun around and slammed the ball into the nick.
The ‘Colombian Cannonball’ certainly seemed to enjoy himself on there as he began to take points away from his opponent and he won the next three games without reply to record an 5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-2.
Up next for Rodriguez is a mouthwatering last 16 clash with New Zealand’s Paul Coll.
“This is my first meeting with Patrick and he has improved this year and has really good matches with the top players,” said Rodriguez.
“I knew it was going to be very difficult because he has a long wingspan, so I had to be careful with my crosscourt. He played very well in the first and second game, then I started to pick up the pace, pick up the angles, boast and lob it, and I played better than the first game. I think the third game was the key, I think he struggled physically and I took advantage of that.
“I’m excited [to play Coll] because I’ve been playing Ali Farag for the past few tournaments, so it will be fun to play with Paul. He’s in top form and it will be a showcase against him in the glass court.
“I want to give everything in every match. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to start tournaments, this is a good start for me to get my body going and get ready for tougher matches. I’m aiming to win against Paul tomorrow and will try and enjoy it as much as possible.”
Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-1: 5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-2 (42m)
Pajares Takes Out Masotti
Iker Pajares Bernabeu
World No.25 Iker Pajares Bernabeu caused the first upset of the men’s event as he overcame World No.19 Baptiste Masotti by an 11-5, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8 margin.
Pajares had the better of the opening game as he found his range quickly and combined finesse with steel in the second game to double his advantage on the tie-break.
Masotti did halve the deficit as he raised his game to win the third, but Pajares was back on top in the fourth and closed out the win to set up a last 16 meeting with World No.1 Ali Farag.
The pair met in the first round of last year’s Gold tier Black Ball event, with Farag winning in four games.
“I’m over the moon with this win,” Pajares said.
“It’s the end of the year and we’re all very tired, it’s been very long. I think my tactics were very good, Baptiste is a player who loves to play at the front and he loves to attack. I just played to the back without pace and he made a lot of mistakes. He wanted to go short and finish the rally, but actually he made mistakes, so I’m very happy with my tactics.
“I’ve played him [Farag] on this court already. I still don’t know why they [the top players] are so good. Of course, I see a lot of things, but I’m still trying to learn. It’s a good opportunity to learn for myself.
“We have ToC in three or four weeks, so I think it’s going to be a good one.”
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 11-5, 12-10, 6-11, 11-8 (61m)
Ibrahim Moves Past El Hammamy
Youssef Ibrahim in action
World No.16 Youssef Ibrahim will line up against former World Champion Tarek Momen after he got the better of fellow Egyptian Karim El Hammamy in the final side court match.
The pair had met each other twice previously and boasted one win apiece, with El Hammamy claiming a surprise win on their last encounter at the U.S. Open in October.
The World No.28 troubled Ibrahim in both of the first two games, but the higher-ranked player was able to show his class as he ultimately edged both of them before claiming a comfortable victory in the third to seal his spot in the last 16.
“I’m very happy with my performance, when we played last time I wasn’t 100 per cent,” said Ibrahim.
“It went his way at the U.S. Open, so I was really determined today to get the win. I was pretty solid throughout the match and I didn’t give him any freebies. He gets everything back, especially on a traditional court where it’s really bouncy. It’s difficult to get the reward of a good shot, so I had to be extra patient with him.
“I’m happy that I didn’t let him into the match. In the second game I was 10-7 down and I managed to stay consistent, and that was the determining factor of winning 3-0, so I’m very happy.
“Tarek has been one of the most consistent players for the last four or five years, so I think it’s going to be a tough match. I’m looking forward to it, I played Tarek in the World Championships and I was coming off the back of a bad knee injury, so hopefully if he is going to win I am going to make him earn it
“The last 12 months has been pretty big for me. I’ve made a huge leap in the rankings, I study in the US and everything was virtual last year, so I was able to play all the tournaments and travel as much as I wanted to, that was a great experience.
“I’ve managed to get my ranking into the top 20, now I’m playing all the big tournaments and all the big guys. I’ve had some good wins, I’m happy with my improvements and it’s only going to get better from here.”
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 12-10, 11-3 (47m)