Friday, March 1, 2024

Nightmare for seeded duo at Cleveland Classic

Au continues her assault on English seeds…and El Tayeb joins the fun

By LEE HORTON – Squash Mad Chief Reporter

LAURA MASSARO and Raneem El Weleily were sent packing from the $50k Cleveland Open as qualifiers Annie Au and Nour El Tayeb turned the form book upside down.

World Number two Massaro was dumped in three straight games by Au who had dished out similar treatment to Massaro’s England team-mate Jenny Duncalf in the previous round.


“I was hitting good length today and was using the lob well,” revealed Au. “Laura’s deep game wasn’t as good as it usually is and I was able to take the ball early and was confident finishing off the point.”

Massaro had no excuses afterwards. “Annie played a great match tonight and she always does well here as the court really suits her game.

“The ball moves off the front wall quite slowly and I was having trouble getting the ball into the back corners. Annie doesn’t hit the ball hard, lifts the ball very well and was hitting into the back corners more consistently than me.

“The slow pace of the game and her variation of shots made it very difficult for me to find my rhythm.”

El Tayeb surrendered the opening game against third seed El Weleily but used her knowledge of her compatriot’s game to fashion a formidable response which saw her record a 3-1 victory.

“I can’t believe how well I played,” said El Tayeb in her post match interview. “I was feeling confident so I was going for winners and they were working for me today. I practice with Reneem all the time and the shots I used I have copied from her. I am very happy here in Cleveland!”

El Weleily responded: “It was tough as Nour played very well today and she knows my game well.  I was finding it hard to keep my focus today and the way Nour played didn’t help.”

El Tayeb now faces world number one Nicol David, who eased past France’s Camille Serme in straight games. Au meets England’s Alison Waters who saved three match balls in the third before getting over the line against Omneya Abdel Kawy.


Quarter-Final Results

[1] Nicol David (MAS) 3-0 Camille Serme 11-5, 11-6, 11-6
[Q] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-1 [3] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 12-10
[4] Alison Waters (ENG) 3-2 Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 8-11, 5-11, 15-13, 11-9, 11-5
[Q] Annie Au (HKG) 3-0 [2] Laura Massaro (ENG) 11-5, 12-10, 14-12

First round reports: Qualifiers El Tayeb & Au Claim Cleveland Upsets

Qualifiers Nour El Tayeb and Annie Au produced sensational upsets in the opening round of the Cleveland Classic to claim unexpected places in the quarter-finals of the WSA Gold 50 event celebrating its fourth year at Cleveland Racquet Club in Ohio, USA.

Egyptian El Tayeb, the former world junior champion making her debut in Cleveland, brushed aside sixth-seeded New Zealander Joelle King 11-6, 11-6, 11-5.

“El Tayeb played a fantastic match, being aggressive and retrieving really well,” reported tournament director Joe Russell, the club’s Director of Squash.

“She was not making any errors and was anticipating much of King’s shots. King did not have a great match. She did not seem comfortable on the court making errors on easy shots.”

ccauAu, the reigning Asian champion from Hong Kong, took on number seven seed Jenny Duncalf, the former world number two from England who held an unbeaten 2/0 Tour head-to-head record over the 24-year-old.

The Hong Kong number one despatched Duncalf in straight games, winning 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 to achieve her career breakthrough.

“Au (pictured right) was very good today at slowing the pace down and lobbing the ball into the back corners,” explained Russell. “It was clearly giving Duncalf trouble.

Duncalf was down 9-5 in the second game and it looked like she was about to gain control of the match. However, Au had enough of a cushion to take the game 11-9. The third game was all Au as she cruised to the 3/0 victory.”

Top seed Nicol David, the world number one from Malaysia expected to reach the final for the fourth year in a row, was in sparkling form as she defeated Nour El Sherbini – the second Egyptian qualifier in the draw – 11-2, 11-8, 11-3.

“She was very methodical, moving the ball on court, not making any errors,” said Russell. “Nicol’s only scare was in game two, when she went down 7-2, before storming back to take the game 11-8.”

There was further unexpected Egyptian success when unseeded Omneya Abdel Kawy ousted Malaysia’s No8 seed Low Wee Wern 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8.

The last match of the night went the full distance when England’s number two seed Laura Massaro twice had to come from behind to see off Irish rival Madeline Perry 15-17, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5.

“I am just happy to get through that match as it was a tough first round for me to have,” said Massaro, the world number two from Preston. “Madeline is a very tough competitor.”

Perry, the 14-time Irish champion and a Cleveland Classic semi-finalist for the past three years, said: “It is a shame because I played well all though the match but I came off the pace a little in the last two games. Laura played a great match.”

First Round Results:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) 3-0 [Q] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) 11-2, 11-8, 11-3 (40m)
[5] Camille Serme (FRA) 3-0 [Q] Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (54m)
[3] Raneem El Welily (EGY) 3-1 Kasey Brown (AUS) 11-8, 10-12, 11-5, 11-7 (40m)
[Q] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 3-0 [6] Joelle King (NZL) 11-6, 11-6, 11-5 (30m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY) 3-1 [8] Low Wee Wern (MAS) 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8 (49m)
[4] Alison Waters (ENG) 3-0 Dipika Pallikal (IND) 12-10, 11-4, 11-9 (35m)
[Q] Annie Au (HKG) 3-0 [7] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-5, 11-9, 11-3 (30m)
[2] Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-2 Madeline Perry (IRL) 15-17, 11-4, 6-11, 11-5, 11-5

Pictures from Cleveland Racquet Club

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