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Ali Farag begins his Houston Open title challenge today

Houston Open Day Two: Player Reaction

The Houston Open continues today in Texas with four matches in store at the Houston Squash Club, beginning from 17:00 (GMT-6).

Top seed Ali Farag and Germany's Raphael Kandra get the day under way and you can watch their match for FREE on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and TikTok.

All four of the evening's matches will be shown live on SQUASHTV, while you can keep up to date with all the action by visiting our live scoring page.

We'll also have reports and reaction from all the matches below.

Order of Play
All times are local (GMT-6)

Farag Eases Past Kandra

Ali Farag (fore) takes on Raphael Kandra

World No.1 Ali Farag got his 2022 off to a winning start as a masterclass from the Egyptian saw him dispatch Germany’s Raphael Kandra 3-0 in just 26 minutes to reach the second round of the Houston Open.

Farag, appearing in his first PSA World Tour match since last month’s CIB Squash Open Black Ball final, had beaten Kandra in both of their previous matches, but it was their first PSA meeting since 2016.

29-year-old Farag dominated play and capitalised on a number of errors from the World No.21, who had come back from two games down to beat Frenchman Sebastien Bonmalais in a 74-minute battle 24 hours previously.

Farag is the first player to book his spot in the quarter finals courtesy of an 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 victory. He will the play the winner of the night’s next match, with Youssef Ibrahim and Youssef Soliman facing off.

“I’m really happy with the way I played today,” Farag said afterwards.

“It’s a tough first round opponent. Raphi is a very unique player, he doesn’t play two shots the same one after another, he mixes it up every single shot, which makes it hard for me to get into a rhythm. I’m orthodox and he’s on the other end of the spectrum.

“I had to sway him my way, which was not easy, but I managed to do that for most of the match. This court is a unique one and we need to get used to it. There are different colours and we like unique courts like this one in Houston and the pink court for the World Tour Finals in Dubai.

“We have to adapt to it and I had to start with the basics again. I want to thank [Tournament Director] Jahanzeb [Khan] for bringing us here in these tough times. It’s not easy to host a tournament and he’s doing a great job.

“The new facility is great and thanks to the sponsors as well, I’m really looking forward to progressing this week.”

[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-4 (26m)

Soliman Axes Ibrahim

Youssef Soliman (right) takes on Youssef Ibrahim (left)

World No.18 Youssef Soliman will take on World No.1 Ali Farag in the last eight after he got the better of fellow Egyptian Youssef Ibrahim by a 3-0 margin.

Ranked three places below Ibrahim, Soliman was the slight underdog for the clash and was on the back foot in the early stages as his left-handed opponent played some nice winners.

However, Soliman found his range as he came back from a 7-4 deficit to take seven points on the bounce in a first-game victory. Soliman’s superiority continued into the second and, while the third got a bit scrappy with multiple refereeing decisions, he held his nerve to book his spot in the last eight.

“Today was way different to yesterday, yesterday I was coping with Nathan’s [Lake’s] game plan, today I was coping with my nerves,” said Soliman.

“Youssef is up and coming and he’s talented and I tried to contain him. It was a nervy start and a nervy end but I’m glad to be through.

“Ali is my training partner, I train with him every day and he teases me every single second. He looks at me and teases me about what I wear, how I play squash, everything, so it will be different. I have to be aggressive against him and it will be exciting.”

Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt [8] Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-9 (58m)

Rodriguez Overcomes ElSherbini

Miguel Rodriguez takes on Mohamed ElSherbini

Colombian veteran Miguel Rodriguez navigated a tricky encounter with World No.29 Mohamed ElSherbini to seal his place in the last eight of the PSA World Tour Gold event.

36-year-old Rodriguez suffered a quick-fire defeat to his opponent the last time they met at the 2020 Motor City Open, but the World No.10 was in fine form to complete a 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 victory in Houston.

Rodriguez, making his second appearance at this tournament, entertained the spectators at Houston Squash Club with some exhibition shots, while ElSherbini attacked throughout and tried to make things happen against his more experienced opponent.

A crucial opening game went the way of Rodriguez though, and he was able to keep ElSherbini at bay in the next two games to set up a quarter final battle with either No.3 seed Mostafa Asal or Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann.

“When we played each other the first time, I was injured, but Mohamed is climbing the rankings and is a talented and skilful player,” Rodriguez said.

“I had to put my balls at the back of the court and work with my speed and move the ball around. It worked, the first game was the key, but I kept it patient, was focused and I had a great performance.

“Age is just a number and I’m still enjoying my game. I don’t want to retire soon, so I’m just focusing on being better every day, every year and doing things differently to last year. For now, I’m just happy to be back here in Houston, this is my second or third time, and I’m very grateful to win this match.”

[5] Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 (47m)

Asal Overcomes Steinmann To Advance

Mostafa Asal in action

In the last match of the second day in Houston, World No.5 Mostafa Asal booked his spot in the quarter finals, with a commanding performance against Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann.

The pair were meeting for the fourth time on Tour, having faced off against each other three times in the space of 13 days on the Tour de las Americas back in 2018, where Asal took all three victories.

It was the ‘Raging Bull’ that took control of the match from the off, and he was able to win the first two games, dropping only seven points in the process. The Swiss No.2 came out fighting in the third, and held the advantage halfway through it, but Asal was able to bounce back, regaining the momentum to win the match in three, securing his spot in the last eight where he will face Colombia’s Miguel Rodriguez.

“First of all, I want to thank Jahanzeb [Khan] for amazing work. You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes, especially with this tournament. I want to thank all the sponsors. You did amazing guys, so thank you, we really appreciate it!” Asal said after the contest.

“It was a physical match, Dimitri is a fighter, he will be moving and moving. He is playing really good squash. I watched him yesterday and I didn’t expect that performance, it was unbelievable to beat Declan James in that form, it isn’t easy at all.

“I tried, the first and second game, to handle my emotions a bit. I am excited to play here, it’s my second home here in Houston. I have been here lots of times, and it’s my main club outside of Egypt.

“Miguel [Rodriguez] is one of the best players of tour, with lots of big performances. He is a British Open champion, so I am looking forward to this match. All the tactics are in my mind, and I wish him good luck, and hopefully all the spectators will enjoy the match!”

[3] Mostafa Asal (EGY) bt Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) 3-0: 11-3, 11-4, 11-8 (46m)

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