Stylish Egyptian is on the rise
By JOEL DURSTON in Madeira
Youssef Soliman finished his brilliant season on a high by taking the Madeira International Open crown with an 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2 victory over Joshua Masters.
It seals a fine season for the 20-year-old Egyptian, who has risen from around 100 in the world to number 54.
And on the evidence of his performances this weekend – in which he dropped only one game, and even that after some marginal calls went against him at the business end of the second here – it looks like he could rise significantly higher.
“I am very happy with everything, with this as the way to end the season,” Soliman said.
“I knew from a previous game that Joshua likes to play winners, so I just played solid like I have from the start of the tournament, and he hit some errors and that’s what happens when you play solid.”
There was little to tell the players apart at the start of the first game, the pair battling it out down the backhand side.
Soliman took a 4-1 lead before Masters then drew level at 5-5, but then Egyptian pulled away, rattling off six points on the spin to take the game as he kept pushing Masters into corners he struggled to get out of.
Masters hit back strongly in the second, taking a 6-2 lead before being pegged back to 8-8, a pivotal moment in the match.
Masters won the next point on a fortuitous side wall nick, then brought up gameball after a long rally brought ended in a no let to Soliman on a drop shot from Masters, which, in truth, it looked like Soliman could have made without too much trouble.
He certainly thought so, throwing his racket on the floor and exclaiming, “Oh my god! This [shot] is high, this is nothing.”
Lady luck was again on Masters’ side for the gameball, as a long rally ended in a tight drop shot from Soliman which had Masters beaten and Soliman walking to serve.
The referee, however, deemed the ball down, a decision which split the crowd and had Soliman again arms out in incredulity at the decision.
In the third, Soliman again pulled away at 5-5 as he retained his very high tempo while Masters dropped off, albeit fractionally, meaning Masters could not dig up a ball at the back, could not sufficiently stretch for one shot and guessed (wrong) for the penultimate shot, before Soliman sealed the match with a precise drop.
It seemed the fourth might prove to be a battle as Masters went 2-0 up, but the Egyptian masterfully rattled off 11 points in a row to win the match – his superb movement meaning that however good a shot Masters hit, nothing could beat him, while and he countered with some stinging drives and delicate drops. Best of all was the one to win the match, a forehand crosscourt drop cushioned to perfection so it died by the side wall.
Masters said: “Obviously I’m disappointed. Youssef deserved to win that one, but I’m disappointed I didn’t play better.
“I made too many errors in the first game. I played a lot better in the second game, cut out those errors, but I got a bit tired really and he put a bit too much pressure on me.
“It’s tough to play him on these courts, which suited him a lot more than they suited me.”
PSA M10 Men’s Madeira International Open 2017, Hotel Galo Sol, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal.
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Joshua Masters (ENG) 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2 (49m)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) 11-6, 11-7, 11-5
 Joshua Masters (ENG) bt  Mohammad Al Sarraj (JOR) 12-10, 11-9, 11-3
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt  Patrick Rooney (ENG) 11-7, 11-3, 11-3
 Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) bt  Auguste Dussourd (FRA) 13-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-3
 Mohammad Al Sarraj (JOR) bt  Jens Schoor (GER) 8-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-4, 11-8
 Joshua Masters (ENG) bt  Mark Fuller (ENG) 15-13, 11-7, 11-8
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Connor Sheen (ENG) 11-2, 11-7, 11-4
 Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt [Q] Hugo Varela (ESP) 5-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-2, 11-4
 Auguste Dussourd (FRA) bt [Q] Joeri Hapers (BEL) 11-2, 11-9, 11-9
 Carlos Cornes Ribadas (ESP) bt [Q] Victor Crouin (FRA) 11-6, 11-9, 11-5
 Jens Schoor (GER) bt [WC] Claudio Pinto (POR) 11-3, 11-5, 11-9
 Mohammad Al Sarraj (JOR) bt [Q] Valentin Rapp (GER) 12-10, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5
 Mark Fuller (ENG) bt Rui Soares (POR) 11-13, 11-5, 11-4, 15-13
 Joshua Masters (ENG) bt Ondrej Uherka (CZE) 11-9, 11-5, 11-6
Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Robert Dadds (ENG) 13-11, 11-9, 11-3
Valentin Rapp (GER) bt Yannik Omlor (GER) 11-5, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6
Hugo Varela (ESP) bt Guhan Senthilkumar (IND) 11-3, 6-11, 11-7, 11-3
Joeri Hapers (BEL) bt Lewis Doughty (ENG) 11-5, 11-3, 11-9
1st qualifying round:
Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Bruno Silva (POR) 11-1, 11-1, 11-1
Robert Dadds (ENG) bt Craig Valente-Wallace (SCO) 10-12, 11-4, 11-3, 11-1
Valentin Rapp (GER) bt Tiago Goriely (BEL) 5-11, 11-1, 4-11, 11-7, 11-2
Yannik Omlor (GER) bt Gonçalo Miranda (POR) 11-6, 11-8, 11-5
Guhan Senthilkumar (IND) bt David Haley (WAL) 9-11, 5-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-4
Hugo Varela (ESP) bt Ricardo Santos (POR) 11-3, 11-4, 11-2
Lewis Doughty (ENG) bt Luke Parker (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-7
Joeri Hapers (BEL) bt Charlie Cowie (ENG) 11-1, 11-5, 11-5
Pictures by JOEL DURSTON