Saturday, July 13, 2024

Mighty Mueller’s on a Swiss roll as he sets up clash with Mazen Hesham for a place in the British Open semis

KO for Kennedy but Perry stays calm to win through, saying: ‘I left my arguing back in the Midlands’

Nicolas Mueller and Mazen Hesham both continued their recent fine form by reaching the quarter-finals of the Allam British Open, and now they are set to meet with the winner claiming a place in the semi-finals for the first time.

World No.21 Mueller became the first Swiss player to reach the quarter finals after he overcame Germany’s Raphael Kandra in four games at Hull’s Allam Sports Centre.

Mueller hadn’t reached the last eight of a major PSA World Tour event since the 2018 J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions. But he overcame Kandra by an 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10 scoreline to maintain the performance level that saw him reach the semi finals of the Optasia Championships and the quarters at Canary Wharf.

Kandra, a semi finalist at the 2018 British Open, had caused a big upset when he took out three-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy in the previous round. He fought back from a game down to level the scores against Mueller, but the man from Switzerland was able to outmanoeuvre his opponent in the third and fourth games to earn his spot in the next round.

Mueller said: “Getting to the British Open third round, it doesn’t get much bigger than this. It is one of the most prestigious events on the calendar and I’m very happy to be in the quarter finals.

“I’ve changed a few things. My diet changed, I tried to eat less meat and be more fish-based and have less milk. My body has been behaving for three quarters of a year now, and when you know your body is fit, you can play with a different attitude. When I’m feeling good and confident I can hit winners from anywhere and I managed to back it up today.”

World No.9 Mazen Hesham, who lost a tough five-setter against eventual champion Fares Dessouky in the Canary Wharf semi finals, battled to a 3-2 victory over No.7 seed Marwan ElShorbagy to reach the last eight of the British Open for the third time.

Hesham’s shot-making was on top form in the opening game, whipping in his trademark boast to drag ElShorbagy around the court as he took it 11-9.

In a complete turnaround, El Shorbagy capitalised on some errors from Hesham to lead 7-0 in the second game. Hesham worked his way back to within one point at 9-10, but El Shorbagy held on to draw level.

Both players enjoyed periods of dominance but Hesham, having won the third game, produced a flurry of errors as ElShorbagy quickly won the fourth.

Hesham steadied to build a 6-3 lead and survived some physically testing rallies to claim victory in 51 minutes. He goes into the showdown against Mueller with the confidence of having a five-match winning streak.

Afterwards he discussed the mental exhaustion caused by a busy tournament schedule following the end of lockdown, saying: “I think what people don’t know at home is that we’re exhausted mentally. They say that we’re not physically fit and all of this, but they don’t know what happens behind the scenes.

“I think both of us coming into this match are tired. I can see everyone’s faces at this event and we’re all tired. Just to be able to push one more match and one more round, people always talk to me about not being mentally fit, but they haven’t been what I’ve been through, they’ve not got what I’ve got, so I’m sick of all of this and they don’t know anything.”

Two-time runner-up Ali Farag and former world champion Tarek Momen were the other men’s winners on day three as they beat former World No.1 Karim Abdel Gawad and Frenchman Baptiste Masotti, respectively.

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No.2 seed Hania El Hammamy earned her spot in the quarter finals of the women’s event as she overcame England No.2 Georgina Kennedy in four games.

Kent star Kennedy, 24, was appearing in the third round for the first time and showed her battling spirit to halve the deficit after a strong showing from El Hammamy saw the Egyptian take a two-game lead.

El Hammamy was too good for her opponent in the fourth though as she rattled off a number of winners, and her 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-7 victory will see her take on Belgium’s Tinne Gilis, who beat India’s Joshna Chinappa in straight games to reach the last eight here for the first time.

“We’ve never played but I’ve been watching her a lot, I know she’s a tough opponent and she’s so physical,” El Hammamy said.

“We’ve trained a couple of times, and even in practice, it feels like a best of five. I had to bring my ‘A’ game today, it was so hard but I’m glad I’m through. I had to do a lot of footwork drills so that I was sharp.”

England No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry was also victorious as she put in a clinical display to dispatch Egypt’s Farida Mohamed at the third time of asking following two previous defeats to the World No.22.

Perry admitted: “The last two times we played, I’m going to be brutally honest, I felt like it wasn’t squash.

“I was bad and it got really scrappy and she’s all over it when it’s scrappy and especially on traditional courts. I love playing on glass courts and I love playing in England up here in Hull.

“I just wanted to go on and really enjoy it and make it about squash. My normal arguing was left back down in the Midlands, thankfully. I just wanted to stay calm and focused.”

Perry will line up against Joelle King for a place in the semi finals after the New Zealander produced a commanding performance to oust Egypt’s Nada Abbas.

2022 Allam British Open, Allam Sports Centre, Hull, Yorkshire.

Men’s Third Round (Top Half):
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) bt Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-9 (38m)
[5] Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Baptiste Masotti (FRA) 3-1: 13-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9 (50m)
Mazen Hesham bt [7] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-5 (51m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10 (52m)

Men’s Third Round (Bottom Half, March 31):
[4] Mostafa Asal (EGY) v Patrick Rooney (ENG)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v Miguel Rodriguez (COL)
[6] Diego Elias (PER) v Shahjahan Khan (USA)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v [2] Paul Coll (NZL)

Men’s Quarter Finals (Top Half, April 1):
[1] Ali Farag (EGY) v [5] Tarek Momen (EGY)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)

Women’s Third Round (Top Half):
[2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) bt Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-1: 11-9, 11-6, 5-11, 11-7 (48m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-0: 12-10, 11-8, 11-8 (35m)
[5] Joelle King (NZL) bt Nada Abbas (EGY) 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 (28m)
[4] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Farida Mohamed (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-6, 11-8 (25m)

Women’s Third Round (Bottom Half, March 31):
[3] Amanda Sobhy (USA) v Jasmine Hutton (ENG)
Olivia Fiechter (USA) v [7] Rowan Elaraby (EGY)
[8] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v Nele Gilis (BEL)
Sabrina Sobhy (USA) v [1] Nouran Gohar (EGY)

Women’s Quarter Finals (Top Half, April 1):
[2] Hania El Hammamy (EGY) v Tinne Gilis (BEL)
[5] Joelle King (NZL) v [4] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)

Pictures courtesy of PSA 


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