Yathreb Adel and Omar Abdel Meguid gate crash into Macau semis
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
The dream run of Yathreb Adel continues at the Macau Squash Open. The Egyptian has just made it into the semi-finals and this would be her biggest achievement to date. After taking out world number 2 Raneem El Welily yesterday evening, she won convincingly against Hong Kong’s Joey Chan today. Her previous achievement was a last eight appearance at the 2014 US Open. At 229, she would be the lowest ever ranked player to make the semis of this event.
She started off with a bang, racing to a 6-1 lead before Joey settled and clawed back to 6-6. That seem to have unsettled Yathreb, but she manages to regroup and come back strongly to win five points in a row, with the last three from the forehand boasts.
In the second and third, Joey seem to have found her range a lot better and both games were close throughout. It was unfortunate that at game ball down in the second, Joey’s strings snapped and her shot went into the tin. After 30 minutes, it was Yathreb walking out the winner 11,6, 11-8, 11-9.
A beaming Yathreb Adel said, “I can’t be any happier really. I knew it was going to be difficult as Joey is very skilful. I had to focus and stay in the lead throughout. There were times I lost a little concentration. I like to play on momentum and sometimes I get frustrated after losing a few points. I had to regroup and start all over again. I hope I’ll be able to play my game tomorrow and hopefully go another step further.”
New Zealand’s Joelle King made it to her second consecutive semi-final after ousting Donna Urquhart. She did not start very well and seemed a little edgy. She was 9-10 down but saved a game ball before Donna finished off the game with a backhand drop to win 12-10.
However, she found her rhythm and raced through the second game for the loss of two points. The third was much closer but Joelle was always in front, closing it out 11-7. Joelle was once again in her stride in the fourth and won 11-4, closing out the match in 35 minutes.
“I felt a little nervous out there to be honest. I lost to Donna the last time we played and she’s been having very good results lately. We’ve been playing since juniors so we know each other’s game pretty well. I was a little tensed in the first but I stayed confident and stepped up the pace after that. Tomorrow I’m playing the giant-killer. We’ve actually never played before so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Annie Au would once again play on the last four of the Macau Squash Open after her opponent Mariam Metwally retired in the third game through a self-inflicted injury. It was a very contrasting match, with Mariam being a hard-hitter and trying to take everything early, Annie tried to float everything and force the Egyptian to the back.
Both the first two games went to the tie-break, and Annie winning both of them. In the start of the third, Mariam landed awkwardly while trailing 0-3 and after the 3 minute injury break, she was unable to continue. A dejected Mariam was inconsolable as her compatriots gathered around her outside the court.
“I played pretty well the first two games. It’s unfortunate that Mariam got injured and I had to win this way. I am quite happy overall with the way I played. I am feeling pretty confident right now and I hope to play my normal game tomorrow, and not make too many errors,” said Annie.
World number 5 Nouran Gouhar booked her place in the last four, beating Wales’ Tesni Evans in 23 minutes. The hard hitting Egyptian was in a menacing mood as she ploughed through the three games ruthlessly. The 2015 losing finalist will play Annie Au once again in a repeat of the 2015 semi-finals tomorrow.
“I think I played Tesni once last year. She’s a tough player and different, she’s got good hands. I had to stay focussed from the first point and I’m pretty happy with my performance. I think I’ll be fresh for the semis tomorrow. I think I played Annie two years ago in the semis also and it’s going to be interesting because we both have very contrasting styles. She loves to slow the pace while I like a very fast pace.”
In the men’s, Simon Rosner and Omar Mosaad faced each other in the opening match. It was a fitting opening game as the crowd was treated to squash at its highest levels. The pace was ferocious and Omar’s low and hard shots were working very fine today, especially in the second game onwards.
Simon started off with a bang, punishing Omar’s cross courts that weren’t deep enough. He raced to a 6-0 lead before Omar won the first point, but the deficit was too far for the Egyptian to catch up.
In the next game, Simon continued to play well and got to 10-6 up. It looked like a quick match was coming up, but suddenly Omar started hitting everything low and hard which unsettled the German. Omar won six points in a row to draw level, much to the crowd’s delight.
In the next two games, the rallies continued to be played at a high level. Simon always edged ahead early in the games and maintained the lead. It was a match worthy of a championship match and both men embraced at the end of it for a befitting close to the match.
A relieved Simon said later, “That was intense and edgy. We’ve been playing each other since we were 10 years old and it’s always been tough. Omar has had a tough time and he’s on his way back to where he was, and I am happy for him. I felt good out there, pretty happy with how I played and my shots were going in. There were some stoppages, but that’s expected when you have two big guys like us in court.”
After a tough opener yesterday, Saurav Ghosal found himself in a much better place today, beating Hong Kong’s Yip Tsz Fung in straight games.
“The score line is better today. I played much better than I did yesterday and Yip is a good player. He made a good start and somewhere in the first game, I think around 7-4 onwards, I managed to get my feel around the court. I felt I was hitting well the whole game and had a lot more rhythm. I’m happy to be in the semis again and I hope to play better than today. The most important thing is for me to enjoy playing. Winning and losing, it’s all part of the game,” Saurav said later in the post-match interview.
Seventh seed Omar Abdel Meguid shrugged off a slow start to upset 2015 champion and last year’s finalist Max Lee in four games. The lanky Egyptian looked lost in the first game as he lost a 2-11 game. The rallies were short and Max was playing effortlessly.
But come the second game, we saw a different player in Omar coming onto court – a far more patient and organised player. The rallies were well constructed and he forced Max to play another shot, which worked brilliantly. He continues to do so in all the next three games and is awarded with a last four berth.
Omar Abdel Meguid said, “I’m one of the worst starters on tour but I’m working on it! I wasn’t mentally prepared to play the long, hard rallies in the beginning. Once I started doing that in the next game, I was much more stronger and got a lot more patient. This is my second semis in Macau and I’ve always done well here, so I look forward to doing one better tomorrow. Both Mohamed (Abouelghar) and Rafael (Kandra) are my friends and we know each other’s game well, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. It’ll be all out there.”
In the last match of the evening, Mohamed Aboulghar of Egypt, the second seed of the event booked his last four place by ousting German qualifier Raphael Kandra. Both players have a very similar style, loving to hold their shots to the last minute and cross court drops from the back were aplenty. But the accuracy and fresher legs of the Egyptian was superior this evening and it’s evident in the score line and the 22 minutes match duration.
“I knew Rafael had a tough game yesterday so I was just trying to extend the rallies as much as possible. We’ve played each other a few times and it went to five, so I knew what to expect. I’m glad I’m through and I play another Egyptian tomorrow. Omar and I, we train together, so we know each other’s game inside out,” said Mohamed Abouelghar, who is playing in Macau for the second time.
Barring any extreme weather conditions, play for the semis and finals will be moved to the Amidaze Square in Macau town tomorrow and Sunday.
Simon Rosner (GER) bt Omar Mosaad (EGY) 11-4, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9 (59m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (38m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (EGY) bt Max Lee (HKG) 2-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 (40m)
Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (22m)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) bt Joey Chan (HKG) 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 (30m)
Joelle King (NZL) bt Donna Urquhart (AUS) 10-12, 11-2, 11-7, 11-4 (35m)
Annie Au (HKG) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 12-10, 12-10, 3-0 rtd (35m)
Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Tesni Evans (WAL) 11-6, 11-5, 11-3 (23m)
Pictures by Macau Squash Association