World champions are falling like flies in Qatar. First it was Amr Shabana making a hasty exit from the event, then it was his compatriot Ramy Ashour. Today England’s reigning world champion Nick Matthew suffered a stunning straight-games defeat to rising Egyptian Tarek Momen as the tournament seedings were once again thrown out of the window.
In the women’s event, former champion Jenny Duncalf suffered a similar fate against a young Egyptian opponent, losing to No.13 seed Nour El Tayeb.
STEVE CUBBINS of Squashsite reports from Doha
Qatar Squash Classic 2011: 14-21 October, Doha, Qatar
DAILY NEWS , Tuesday 18th Oct
Men’s Round Two:
Tarek Momen (Egy) bt  Nick Matthew (Eng) 11/9, 12/10, 11/8 (44m)
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra) bt [Q] Siddarth Suchde (Ind) 11/3, 11/3, 11/8 (44m)
Nicolas Mueller (Sui) bt Azlan Iskandar (Mas) 11/8, 7/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/6 (59m)
 Karim Darwish (Egy) bt [Q] Henrik Mustonen (Fin) 11/4, 11/5, 11/5 (28m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) bt Simon Rosner (Ger) 11/5, 11/2, 14/12 (47m)
 Peter Barker (Eng) bt Thierry Lincou (Fra) 11/6, 11/3, 11/9 (57m)
Stewart Boswell (Aus) bt  David Palmer (Aus) 11/8, 4/11, 11/6, 5/11, 11/5 (80m)
Cameron Pilley (Aus) bt Tom Richards (Eng) 11/7, 11/2, 13/11 (54m)
Women’s Round Two
 Nicol David (Mas) bt Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) 11/6, 11/7, 11/1 (25m)
 Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt  Camille Serme (Fra) 11/7, 11/5, 11/5 (26m)
 Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt Aisling Blake (Irl) 7/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/5 (49m)
Emma Beddoes (Eng) bt  Joey Chan (Hkg) 8/11, 11/6, 11/7, 6/11, 13/11 (54m)
 Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt  Laura Massaro (Eng) 11/6, 3/11, 12/10, 11/9 (57m)
 Madeline Perry (Irl) bt [Q] Farah Abdel Meguid (Egy) 11/5, 11/5, 11/3 (21m)
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt  Donna Urquhart (Aus) 11/8, 11/7, 11/5 (29m)
 Nour El Tayeb (Egy) bt  Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 11/8, 5/11, 11/9, 12/10 (59m)
Day of upsets in Doha sees Matthew and Duncalf fall
It was a day of upsets Doha in the second round of the XIth Qatar Classic at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex, with the men’s #1 and women’s #2 seeds only the headline casualties …
Men’s Round Two Roundup
The first match of the day saw a first win over Thierry Lincou in five attempts for Peter Barker. The Englishman looked to be heading for a comfortable win as he pulled clear from 6-all in the first and took the second 11/3, but Lincou dug in, as he does, and made the third really tough.
At 9-all Lincou was annoyed to lose the point as Barker hit the ball from the back into the Frenchman’s leg, and having used his video appeal fruitlessly on that one, had none left when Barker put in a tight forehand volley to win the match.
“Too many errors, unforgiveable,” was Lincou’s verdict, while Barker it was a case of “I did play well the important points but still, I feel that I was a bit fortunate, but I’ll take it.”
It was a second scalp in a row for Nicolas Mueller as the Swiss followed up his round one defeat of Amr Shabana with a five-game win over Azlan Iskandar. They took it in turns to dominate the first four games, but from midway through the decider it was Mueller who took control, finishing with a dropshot that left the Malaysian on his knees.
“In the US Open a few days ago, he beat me easily 3/0, so when I took the first game, it boosted my confidence,” said Mueller.
Karim Darwish beat Finland’s Henrik Mustonen in double quick time in last year’s first round on the way to taking the title, and although the young Finn lasted longer this time around, particularly in the third game which he contested strongly up to 5-all, the Egyptian third seed still won 11/4, 11/5, 11/5 in just under half an hour.
James Willstrop looked to be heading for a similarly quick win as he opened up a two-game lead over Simon Rosner, but the German fought back well in the third, took it to extra points but eventually fell 11/5, 11/2, 14/12.
Willstrop moves on to another all-English meeting with Barker while Darwish meets Mueller.
The evening session started with a mammoth upset as Egypt’s Tarek Momen recorded the best win of his budding career to beat top seed Nick Matthew in straight games – and in the process ending a run of ten consecutive PSA finals for the English world champion.
Momen’s movement, short game and retrieving were getting the better of the world champion in each game, and although Matthew led the first 9/6 it was Momen who was doing the frontrunning after that, finally clinching the win on his third match ball 11/9, 12/10, 11/8.
After admitting he was “speechless”, Momen said “Today, everything was going my way, and I thought “you’ve got to take the opportunity, it may never happen again.”
Nothing quite as dramatic, but the next match saw another seeding upset as Stewart Boswell came out on top – for only the second time in 15 meetings – in a seesaw encounter with fellow Aussie David Palmer, Boswell taking the first, third and fifth game to put the 8th seed, playing in his last Qatar Classic, out in 80 minutes of intense play.
“Well, I was not too happy about the stats, 13/1 David was over me for over a decade, so I’m happy to squeeze this one tonight,” admitted Boswell.
Another Aussie made it through to the quarter-finals as Cameron Pilley beat England’s Tom Richards in straight games. Pilley was always in the first two, but a strong fightback from Richards saw Pilley needing to save two game balls before clinching a meeting with Boswell which guarantees an Australian semi-finalist.
Last man into the semis was Frenchman Gregory Gaultier who beat Indian qualifier Siddarth Suchde in straight games to set up a meeting with Momen at noon tomorrow.
Women’s Round Two Roundup
Another early start for defending champion and top seed Nicol David, who wasted little time in seeing off Kanzy El Dafrawy in three games.
The 17-year-old Egyptian competed well enough in the first two games, but was always behind on the scoreboard.
There was no diving today, but at 10-0 down in the third she let out a loud “YES” as a mishit boast saved her from a whitewash.
“I really enjoyed it,” said Kanzy, “I’ve been wanting to play Nicol since the day I was born! She gave me no chance, but I’m happy with my tournament.”
Raneem El Weleily will be the next young Egyptian to test Nicol, and judging by the form she showed in this re-run of her world junior final against Camille Serme, the Malaysian will be well tested.
El Weleily always looked in control, Serme unable to make much headway on the scoreboard as the Egyptian put her under constant pressure to reach the ball which contributed to more errors than is normal for the Frenchwoman.
“This is the third time I played Camille this year and we were one-all,” said Weleily, “so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Yesterday I played well for two games then it didn’t go the way I wanted, so even at 2-0 up I told myself it wasn’t over, to stay on court, stay on court.
“I have a problem mentally to keep on doing what I’m doing when I’m winning, once I start thinking I think too much and that’s not what I want to do! But I’m enjoying playing the mature game, being more patient and not going for the winners and the shots so soon.
“I lost 3/0 to Nicol in Singapore, and I’m not sure I’ve ever taken a game off her. I’m happy to win today, I know I’ll have to play well tomorrow.
A disappointed Serme explained: “I wanted to do well in this tournament and I went in with a game plan, but from the start I just couldn’t breathe properly and my body just wouldn’t let me do what I knew I needed to do. It’s disappointing, but I’ll just have to put this tournament behind me and hop to do better in the worlds.”
Third seeded Australian Rachael Grinham didn’t make a good start against Aisling Blake. The Irishwoman who ousted Sarah Kippax yesterday raced into a 5/0 lead in the first, and although Grinham pulled back it was too late to salvage the game.
She didn’t make the same mistake in the next three though, pulling clear from the midpoint of each to advance to the quarter-finals 7/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/5.
“Aisling is tough to play, she’s improved a lost and I saw he play really well yesterday,” said Grinham.
“After that start I resigned myself to losing the first, but needed to get into the match as soon as I could rather than waiting for the second.
“I told myself that if you took away the start I could have won the first. The other games were hard, but once I’d toughed it out in the beginning my short game was working well at the end of them.”
The first session ended with a really enjoyable match, and an upset to boot, between Emma Beddoes and Joey Chan.
They went at it hammer and tong for 50-odd minutes, sharing the first four games with hardly an intervention from the referees. The fifth was point for point, and although Chan got to match ball first it was only fair that it went to extra points, the match and both players deserved that.
The Hong Kong left-hander got one more chance at 11/10 but Beddoes hit a winning return of serve and then after some frantic retrieveng by Joey Emma finally put a crosscourt too wide for 13/11 and let out a big “YES”.
“I’m so delighted,” said a jubilant winner. “Matches like that go either way and today it was me so I’m happy to take it this time, it doesn’t happen too often!
“We were ranked about the same so we knew it would be close, but it was a really good, fair game – she called her own ball out at 8-all in the first and there were maybe two decisions in the whole match.
“I’m ecstatic, it’s the furthest I’ve got in a big tournament, especially to win after saving two match balls like I did yesterday, and taking on Rachael on the glass court tomorrow should be an experience.
“Thanks to Eddie [Charlton] for all his help, I hope he’ll be watching tomorrow.”
Upsets abound in evening session
“That’s definitely my best win,” said a delighted Low Wee Wern after she had beaten England’s in-form Laura Massaro in four tough games to start the evening session.
“Especially since she just won the US Open and I didn’t even make te main draw,” added the diminutive Malaysian.
After losing the first from 6/2 up, Massaro looked to have steadied the ship as she took the second comfortably, but Low won the big points at the end of two tough, long games, saving a game ball in the third and coming from 9/7 down in the fourth to win 11/6, 3/11, 12/10, 11/9.
“I had a bit of a shoulder injury in the US, so I went back home for two days before going to China, where I played well to win the tournament, so I felt good coming into this tournament and there was no pressure on me playing Laura, although I lost in five last time we played so I knew I had a chance.
“I knew I had to be patient and keep it steady as she gives nothing away, and thankfully it worked today.”
Third seed Madeline Perry stemmed the flow of upsets – temporarily – with a comfortable 11/5, 11/5, 11/3 victory over qualifier Farah Abdel Meguid in 22 minutes.
“I was pleased with that,” said the Irishwoman, “I’d only seen her play a handful of points before, but I knew that if she beat Jaclyn [Hawkes] she must be a good player, so I had to be on my toes from the start.”
The Egyptian charge was soon back on course though, as Nour El Sherbini put another seed out to pasture, beating Donna Urquhart 11/8, 11/7, 11/5 in just under half an hour.
“That’s frustrating,” said Urquhart. “I just never managed to get into it and I’m not at all tired. I’d never seen her play before, but she’s fast and strong and puts the ball away from anywhere – and she just played better than me today.”
Sherbini was naturally pleased with her win. “I think I played well today,” said the 16-year-old former world junior number two. “I knew I had to concentrate from the start, and I wasn’t thinking about the size of the tournament or her being left-handed, I just tied to play my game the best I could and I think I did that.
“I hope I play as well on the glass court tomorrow, either against Jenny or my roommate Nour El Tayeb!”
It will be her roommate who Sherbini meets in the quarter-finals after a night of upsets was completed with the world junior champion beating the world number two – and to put it into context, that wasn’t even the biggest upset of the day!
Nour El Tayeb played well in the first game to win it 11/8, Jenny Duncalf bounced back to level with 11/5, and then in a similar vein to previous matches it was the underdog who prevailed at the end of tough and tense games.
“I knew I had to win the third and the fourth,” said El Tayeb, “if I’d lost either of those my fitness wouldn’t have carried me through the fifth.”
She did win them both, just, taking two tense rallies at the end of the third for 11/9 and almost letting a 7/2 in the fourth slip, diving in vain on her first two match balls as Duncalf levelled it 10-all.
A third match ball was enough though, and after 59 minutes another top seed was out.
“That’s the longest four games I’ve ever played,” she added. “I knew I was playing the world number two so there was no pressure on me, I just wanted to play well and prove to myself I was up there.
“I need to be mentally stronger, I let a couple of leads slip and I just lost it completely in the second, but it was tough all the way, she doesn’t give anything away, she’s the world number two after all!
“It’s good to be back in the quarters after my good results here last year, I’m happy I played well and hope I can carry on like this. It should be a good match with Nour [El Sherbini], we always seem to end up playing each other these days!”
WISPA action moves to the glass court tomorrow, David v El Weleily and Grinham v Beddoes from 12.00, Perry v Low and Tayeb v Sherbini from 17.30 … don’t miss it!