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Karim Abdel Gawad celebrates his win over Saurav Ghosal

CIB Squash Open Black Ball Round Two - Player Reaction

After a thrilling conclusion to the women’s event yesterday, the second day of the men’s CIB Squash Open Black Ball begins at 12:00 (GMT+2) today, at the Black Ball Sporting Club in Cairo.

You can watch every moment LIVE on SQUASHTV (worldwide), as the eight seeded players get their campaigns underway, while Paul Coll's match against Miguel Rodriguez will also be streamed for free on Facebook.

You can stay up to date with all the latest reports and reaction from the players here, as No.7 seed and former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad gets the day’s play underway, when he faces India’s Saurav Ghosal.

World No.1 Ali Farag and World No.2 Paul Coll, who met in the final of the Canary Wharf Classic in November, will both be in action.

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

Order Of Play
(All times local: GMT+2)

Gawad Claims 300th Win On Tour To Advance

Former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad is through to the last eight at the CIB Squash Open Black Ball, after defeating India’s Saurav Ghosal in a four-game contest in the opening match of the day.

The 2016 World Champion was looking much lighter on his feet, as he looks to battle his way back up the World Rankings following a constant issue with plantar fasciitis.

Gawad lost the first game, but was able to take back control in the second, and after allowing the Indian to save a couple of game balls in the third, he took it 13-11. The Egyptian kept the momentum throughout the fourth game to seal the win, his 300th on Tour.

“[I’m] feeling much better! Playing Saurav is always tough, so playing him in my first match makes it even tougher. He is a good mover on court, very talented and makes you run a lot, with diagonals, forwards and backwards, so for me, it is always tough to play him. But, it is always enjoyable to play him too,” Gawad explained.

“That’s natural [relaxed manner], and something I have done since I was young. My parents always just told me to go on court and play my own game, and to never think about winning or losing so I think that helps me a lot and it is something I have improved a lot during the last year. It makes me a lot more comfortable on court and just thinking how to play my game and how to make my game better, to improve and to think of different plans if the first doesn’t work.

‘It’s always nice to play in Egypt. Having my friends, my family, supporting me, it makes it more enjoyable. Thanks to everyone who came and supported me today and I am looking forward to the next round!”

[7] Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 3-1: 6-11, 11-7, 13-11, 11-6 (57m)

Asal Downs Soliman In All-Egyptian Battle

Mostafa Asal

In a highly controversial battle, World No.6 Mostafa Asal made it through to the last eight of the CIB Squash Open Black Ball, defeating compatriot Youssef Soliman in a 118-minute contest in Cairo.

Asal took the first game 11-2, but despite just 13 points being played, the first went on for 20 minutes. The ‘Raging Bull’ looked in great form, as he continued that momentum into the second, to take it 11-8, and hold a two-game advantage.

However, Soliman refused to back down, taking the third game 11-9, one that became littered with stoppages and refereeing decisions. Asal then led 4-1 in the fourth before a controversial incident which saw the World No.6 down after hitting his head on the floor.

After spending some time off court with the physio, Asal returned to court, to be told that he had been given a conduct game against him for his movement, following a similar incident earlier in the contest where he received a conduct stroke against him.

That made it two games apiece, and the last then went down to the wire, with Asal eventually taking it after 118 minutes, and booking his place in the quarter finals, where he will take on Karim Abdel Gawad.

[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Youssef Soliman (EGY) 3-2: 11-2, 11-8, 9-11, 4-11, 11-8 (118m)

Makin Overcomes Mosaad Test

Joel Makin

World No.8 Joel Makin is into the quarter finals at the Black Ball Sporting Club, after coming through a tricky battle with the ‘Hammer of Thor’ Omar Mosaad in the last 16.

The Welshman found himself 10-8 down in the first game, but he was able to save two game balls, before then winning the next two points as well to claim it on a tie-break 12-10.

He then won the second with ease, before Mosaad fought his way back into the contest, and eventually took the third on another tie-break. The fourth was tight, and as the game started to get a bit scrappy late on, the Welshman was able to see it out in four, winning 3-1 to secure his quarter final spot.

“I expected it to be like that. He is massive and he hits such a clean ball, you’re going to get stuck if you hit the ball down the middle, which I did far too much through large parts of that match.” The Welshman said.

“I couldn’t get the ball around him in parts, but when I was hitting the back wall, I was then taking the straight drop in when I was on top, really. It was a bit of a slow start with everything going on beforehand. That couldn’t have gone on any longer with any more ridiculous situations.

“We were about an hour and a half late coming on to court, so I had to adjust to that and I did, but the first couple of points I was a bit slow. He hit some good kills but I was able to switch it, and just managed to win that first game.

“He hits a quality ball, makes himself big and I had to not leave the ball around the middle to allow him to do that. When I was getting it past him and stretching him, hitting it wide enough cross-court with some hold, then I was on top.”

[6] Joel Makin (WAL) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 11-5, 11-13, 11-8 (74m)

Marche Takes Down Hesham To Reach Quarters

Gregoire Marche in action

Frenchman Gregoire Marche became the first unseeded player to make it through to the quarter finals of the CIB Squash Open Black Ball after defeating No.8 seed Mazen Hesham in straight games.

The pair were separated by just two places in the rankings coming into this contest, with Marche occupying the World No.14 spot, two places below the Egyptian, and it was a tight contest throughout.

All three games could have gone either way, but it was Marche that took all three, including the second on a lengthy tie-break, to book his place in the last eight, where he will face either World No.1 Ail Farag or Spanish No.1 Iker Pajares Bernabeu.

“I feel really relieved after all the waiting that we had to do before the match. I think we had a little bit more than two hours delayed, so I was in the changing room for three hours waiting for the match. There was a tough battle before us so it was not easy to get ready. I was trying to eat anything I could, a lot of bananas!” Marche said.

“Winning 3-0 against Mazen, it’s not what I was expecting. Every game was tough but I think I was a bit better mentally at the end of each game, not making any errors, which he did a bit too much today. I put enough pressure on him and I am happy with the way I moved, and I hit the ball in the corners today, so it was a good match.

“Physically, we train hard every day to be ready for that kind of battle, so I will be ready for tomorrow. I need to do a good recovery, eat some good food, get some rest and I hope they will have a big battle, Ali [Farag] and Iker [Pajares], and then we’ll see.

“It has not been an easy time at home for me, it’s been a tough year but my physical coach and all my team, my physio, they have done a good job for me to make my legs ready for me. Even mentally, I have been working a bit more and we can see it is finally paying off after all these years. I am not young anymore and I need to take full advantage of the years coming up!”

Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt [8] Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-0: 11-9, 13-11, 11-8 (47m)

Coll sees off spirited Rodriguez

Paul Coll in action

Newly crowned World No.2 Paul Coll got his CIB Squash Open Black Ball 2021 campaign underway against ‘Colombian Cannonball’ Miguel Rodriguez in the first match of the evening session at the Black Ball Sporting Club in Cairo.

Rodriguez defeated England’s Patrick Rooney in round one and started slowly against his New Zealand opponent. Coll quickly got into his rhythm, pinning the Colombian in the back corners tidying up Rodriguez’s drives with accurate attacks into the front, taking the first game 11-1.

Rodriguez responded in the second game, using a good mix of height and pace to disrupt Coll’s rhythm and get in front of the World No.2 and was able to hang tough in the crucial moments to equalise in 24 minutes.

The random play of the Colombian was troubling Coll, but the New Zealander stuck to his task and his electric court coverage forced errors from the racket of Rodriguez. Coll managed to take the third and fourth games 11-6, 11-5 to advance to the quarter finals.

“I’m happy. Miguel’s a class player, to get him off 3-1 I’m happy with. In the second, I had my chances and I went a bit passive, he controlled the pace that I wasn’t happy with that. I came back in the third and fourth which I’m happy with so just that bit in the second where he controlled the pace is what I wasn’t happy with.” said Coll.

“It’s been a great year so far, one of my goals is to win in Egypt, there’s so many class players here that would be such a great win for me and to finish the year with another win would be great. I’m feeling good this week, a good hit out and really happy to win and looking forward to tomorrow.

“The danger is in the next round, tough one coming next against Joel, it’ll be a physical battle, we played a few weeks ago and I managed to win there, looking to back up that performance and put in a good performance tomorrow, not get too excited just focus on the next match.

“He’s improving every tournament, it's never easy, he’s always hungry which I love in a player, it’ll be a good battle, you always know it’ll be tough and he’s never going to give you anything easy, it’ll be a good battle, this is why I love playing squash, looking forward to tomorrow.”

[2] Paul Coll (NZL) bt Miguel Rodriguez (COL) 3-1: 11-1, 11-13, 11-6, 11-5 (71m)

Farag safely through to quarter finals

Ali Farag beating Iker Pajares Bernabeau

World No.1 Ali Farag is safely through to the quarter finals of the CIB Squash Open Black Ball after beating Spains Iker Pajares Bernabeau 3-0 in 30 minutes.

The reigning World Champion took control of the match from the start and didn’t let go, moving his younger opponent to all areas of the court with great accuracy and making life very difficult for the Spaniard.

Pajares, being the determined character that he is, refused to give up and made the No.1 seed work hard for all of this points but Farag proved too strong and advances to the quarter finals to face France’s Gregoire Marche.

“Lots of positives, I found my targets from the get go, there were lots of winners coming from my racket and you know you can’t win 33 rallies like this so you have to construct rallies a bit more and that’s a mistake I made in the second. I thought it would be more straight forward and I needed more patience to build the rallies and he punished me for it but happy I could get the balance right in the third.” Farag explained.

“I’ve played with Iker twice already and both times he’s caught me off guard in the first game so I was ready for that today and just go with he flow if you’re playing well and just go with the strategy I guess.

“It’s great to have Nour back on the tour, as a fan and husband, she’s such an addition to the tour, she such a character on and off the court, everyone around her is so proud of her, not just the matches she played here but the way she wakes up with not enough sleep and going to the gym then to squash and taking the baby with her. I shouldn’t say I’m not the most supportive but she is doing it alone and were all so proud.

“You know that even if things don’t go as planned on the court you have a beautiful family to go back to. It doesn’t take any hunger away, you’re still hungry but it’s not the end of the world when you lose, sometimes you feel like squash is all of your life and its good to have something else. It’s making me and Nour closer and the whole family closer.

“He (Gregoire Marche) played so well today. I haven’t seen him that composed in a while, Mazen is such a dangerous player and to hold him off means you’re playing very well, but i’ve played a lot with Greg, we know each other inside out and I’m looks forward to it.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Iker Pajares Bernabeau (ESP) 3-0: 11-1, 11-9, 11-5 (30m)

Momen survives Ibrahim scare to book quarter final place

Tarek Momen in action

The third match of the evening’s play was between two of Egypt’s most skilful players, World No.4 Tarek Momen and Yousef Ibrahim.

The pair did not disappoint in their third meeting on the PSA World Tour, producing an entertaining clash at the Black Ball Sporting Club. Both players attacking the front corners from the start and stretching each others movements to the maximum.

Momen used his experience to close out crucial points in the first two games to take a commanding 2-0 lead. Ibrahim came back however, and bulldozed his opponent to win the third game 11-2.

The young Egyptian wasn’t stopping there, producing incredible winners to claim the fourth game 12-10 and force the match into a fifth and final game.

An adrenaline fuelled fifth game saw the lead change several times with both players digging deep to get ahead. But it was the World No.4 who took the match on his third match ball earning himself a well deserved quarter final spot, where he is guaranteed to face another Egyptian, either Mohamed ElSherbini or Marwan ElShorbagy.

“It was becoming a nightmare towards the end to be honest. There are two things I can say, I am very proud of how I managed to close this one out, I eventually used my experience to close out the match that was slipping away from my hands. On the other hand I blame myself because he wasn’t into it, at the beginning he was gifting me a lot of errors then I started matching him with errors and it was just poor quality from the beginning from both of us.” Momen admitted.

“He has an excuse, he’s been away studying in Princeton for 3 months and it’s so hard to do both. I was in his position 10/11 years ago and for him to improve this much in one match is incredible.

“After the 2nd he stepped it up and cut his errors down and his quality just went up. I kept hitting some errors but then my quality went up in the 4th and 5th and I was playing good squash, I only made a few errors at crucial times and he played super well and to be honest I thought this match was going to slip away from my hands that’s why I’m so proud that I managed to close it out.

“He pushed me so hard and played an incredible match and overturned a poor start into an exquisite finish and a brilliant match towards the end.

“I have plenty of recovery work that needs to be done, I need to focus on myself. I might watch it tomorrow morning but for now I need to focus on myself, eat well, sleep well and focus on tomorrow.”

[3] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Yousef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-2: 11-7, 11-9, 2-11, 10-12, 12-10 (79m)

ElShorbagy to face Momen in quarter final

Marwan ElShorbagy beats Mohamed ElSherbini.

The final match of round two was another all Egyptian clash between World No.24 Mohamed ElSherbini and No.5 seed Marwan El Shorbagy.

The pair last met in the PSA World Championships in July and it was ElShorbagy who came out on top in a five game thriller.

ElSherbini defeated former World No.1 James Willstrop in round one and kept that form going into this round two encounter taking the first game 11-5 in 10 minutes.

‘The Jackel’ fought his way back into the match displaying his trademark court craft to manoeuvre his opponent into all four corners of the court to take the second game 11-6.

ElShorbagy continued his positive momentum, capitalising on some loose attacks and helped by errors from ElSherbini to take the third and fourth games 11-8, 11-8 to book his quarter final slot in 51 minutes.

ElShorbagy had this to say about his performance:

“Yeah I’m happy overall with my performance, just to get a win today is the most important thing, I’m not very happy with my slow start but that’s credit to Mohamed of course, he’s a very tricky player, he understands the game very well so I’m just very happy to get the win today.

“I’ve got good memories from last years event here, but I’m just trying to focus on this event, take it match by match. Tarek is a great player, he played a great match with Youssef, I couldn’t warm up properly because I was watching them, all credit to them for that match.

“Now I’ll just focus on my recovery. I’m just going to get a quick dinner, and try and get some sleep.

“It’s quite hard to play the way Youssef Ibrahim likes to play, it’s not my type of game at all, quite the opposite actually. But I’ve played Tarek a lot of times, I don’t have the best record against him so I’m just going to get my game plan sorted tomorrow and look forward to my game against him.”

[5] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-1: 5-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 (51m)

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