Squash rocks by the Red Sea
By SEAN REUTHE in El Gouna
World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and former World No.6 Amanda Sobhy will contest a mouthwatering second round fixture at the 2018 El Gouna International after they claimed respective wins over British duo Emily Whitlock and Tesni Evans at the PSA World Series tournament held on the banks of Egypt’s Red Sea.
El Sherbini became the first woman to win a professional squash tournament in El Gouna when she defeated fellow Egyptian Raneem El Welily to win the PSA Women’s World Championships last April.
This year is the first time that a women’s El Gouna International has been held alongside the men’s and El Sherbini kept up her 100 per cent record in El Gouna as she claimed a 3-0 win over England’s Whitlock by an 11-3, 12-10, 11-2 margin at the El Gouna Marina.
“Emily is a tricky first round and we’ve not played a lot of matches together,” said El Sherbini.
“The second game was important for me and I didn’t want to lose it and I think that made the difference. I just went for my shots and I think she made an error or two, so that second game was important and I just played point by point.
“I’ve not played Amanda since she has come back from her injury and it seems like she’s playing well and getting her form back. Mentally and physically she’s getting better, I’m excited for the match and let’s see how it goes.”
Sobhy, meanwhile, missed the World Championships last April due to a ruptured achilles but she marked her maiden El Gouna appearance with an impressive 3-1 win over Welsh No.1 Tesni Evans at the El Gouna Squash Complex.
Evans won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this month but, despite fighting back from a game down to level, the 25-year-old was unable to resist a strong showing from Sobhy and the United States No.2 closed out an 11-3, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 triumph.
“I’m happy to be here, the weather’s good which I appreciate so much more than in the States. I’m happy to play, I’m enjoying it and there is really no pressure, it’s nice being the underdog again,” Sobhy said.
“There aren’t many expectations for me apart from keeping improving, getting fitter and enjoying my squash, so I’m happy I did that on the day.”
England’s Laura Massaro is also through courtesy of a 3-0 win over Egyptian qualifier Mayar Hany and she will face Joey Chan, who cut short former World No.4 Omneya Abdel Kawy’s return to action after she took time away from the tour due to the birth of her son.
World No.6 Camille Serme and Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David are also through to the last 16 after respective wins over Dipika Pallikal Karthik and Zeina Mickawy.
World No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy got his tournament off to a winning start after the 2016 winner defeated Malaysia’s Nafiizwan Adnan 3-0 to set up a second round meeting with former World No.3 Omar Mosaad.
“I’m happy to win, he’s a very good player,” ElShorbagy said. “He showed what a great player he is in the Commonwealth Games when he got a bronze [medal] and beat Nick [Matthew] in the quarters. He is one of those players that, when he plays well, is able to play at a top 10 quality. That’s why he’s able to get wins over them [top 10 players] from time to time.”
ElShorbagy’s younger brother, World No.4 Marwan, is also through after he saw off England’s Ben Coleman in straight games to ensure that he will face France’s Mathieu Castagnet next, while French World No.40 Lucas Serme upset Peru’s World No.11 Diego Elias, coming through to win 3-1.
Semi-final finishes at both the Oracle NetSuite Open and Channel VAS Championships in the opening stages of the season saw Elias poised to be a major contender in the latter half of the campaign but a hamstring injury sustained towards the end of last year has stunted the 21-year-old’s progress in recent months and Serme put in a fine display to win it 12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8.
“Diego didn’t seem quite 100% but I saw him looking like that in a few tournaments, pulling off some great wins, so I was wary and on my guard until the last shot,” said Serme.
“He looks very nonchalant but still gets all the shots and some ridiculous kills. It was the first time I beat him, so I’m very happy.”
Serme will play last year’s runner-up Karim Abdel Gawad – whose run to the final saw him take the World No.1 spot last May – while Germany’s Simon Rösner and England’s Declan James will go head-to-head after wins over Tom Richards and Zahed Mohamed, respectively.
Round one of the El Gouna International continues tomorrow (April 21) with action from the glass court shown on SQUASHTV (Rest of World) and Eurosport Player (Europe only) from 18:30 local time (GMT+2) onwards.
El Gouna International Open 2018, El Gouna Marina, Egypt.
PSA 165 Men’s First Round (Top Half):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Nafiizwan Adnan (MAS) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (36m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt [LL] Ahmed Hosny (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-9 (53m)
Declan James (ENG) bt Zahed Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-6 (40m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (33m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Leo Au (HKG) 3-1: 11-3, 11-5, 5-11, 11-8 (39m)
[Q] Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Diego Elias (PER) 3-1: 12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8 (55m)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) bt [Q] Mohamed Reda (EGY) 3-2: 11-5, 16-14, 8-11, 5-11, 11-5 (74m)
 Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt [Q] Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-9 (35m)
Men’s First Round (Bottom Half): To be played April 21
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
Borja Golan (ESP) v [Q] Karim Ali Fathi (EGY)
Max Lee (HKG) v [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER)
[WC] Mostafa Asal (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) v Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) v [Q] Joshua Masters (ENG)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v [Qualifier
] Mazen Hesham (EGY) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Men’s Second Round (Top Half): To be played April 22
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Declan James (ENG) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v [Q] Lucas Serme (FRA)
Mathieu Castagnet (FRA) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
PSA 165 Women’s 2018 El Gouna International. First Round (Top Half):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 12-10, 11-2 (24m)
Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt  Tesni Evans (WAL) 3-1: 11-3, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6 (31m)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) bt Salma Hany (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 13-11 (62m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Dipika Pallikal Karthik (IND) 3-0: 12-10, 11-7, 14-12 (34m)
 Nicol David (MAS) bt [Q] Zeina Mickawy (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 11-2, 9-11, 11-2 (32m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt [WC] Rowan Elaraby (EGY) 3-1: 8-11, 11-8, 14-12, 11-4 (39m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-6, 11-3 (19m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [Q] Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (27m)
Women’s First Round (Bottom Half): To be played April 21
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v [Q] Coline Aumard (FRA)
Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v  Olivia Blatchford (USA)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Mariam Metwally (EGY)
[Q] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v [Q] Fiona Moverley (ENG)
[Q] Liu Tsz-Ling (HKG) v  Annie Au (HKG)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [Q] Nadine Shahin (EGY)
[Q] Sivasangari Subramaniam (MAS) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half): To be played April 22
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Nicol David (MAS) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
(Report by SEAN REUTHE. Edited by ALAN THATCHER)
Pictures courtesy of PSA