By JANE BALL (Squash Mad Reporter)
French No.2 seed Victor Crouin avoided a shock defeat to Colombia’s World No.67 Juan Camilo Vargas as he prevailed in a five-game thriller to reach the quarter-finals of the inaugural CIB Zed Squash Open, PSA World Tour Bronze event held at Zed Park in Cairo.
Crouin, the World No.18 from Marseille, was sublime in the opening two games as he settled into a steady pace of hitting and controlled the rallies, giving his opponent very little chance to attack.
That all changed in the third and fourth games as Vargas began to display his qualities to force Crouin into a decider. It was the fifth game where Crouin’s focus was severely tested, but the 23-year-old passed that test to reach the last eight.
“I don’t know what to say right now, I need to watch it back and analyse the match,” Crouin said afterwards.
“I was 2-0 up and he brought it back to 2-2, but I’m happy I’m through. It’s these kinds of matches where I have to push through even if I can’t find a solution, I still have to win and that’s all that matters.
“It’s an opportunity [to win the title] but I have to take it one match at a time because, as you can see, I could have been out today. Yes, it’s an opportunity, yes, it’s the goal to win a Bronze event, but if it doesn’t happen then I will keep pushing.”
Crouin will take on Hungary’s Balazs Farkas in the next round after the World No.70 took out No.7 seed Karim El Hammamy in four games to reach the quarter-finals of a Bronze level event for the first time.
Meanwhile, top seed Youssef Soliman also booked his place in the quarter-finals after a comfortable win over Portugal’s Rui Soares in the final match of the day, winning 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 to set up a last eight meeting with No.5 seed Moustafa El Sirty.
“It is all about performances, I don’t want to focus on being the top seed or to win the tournament or anything, it is all about performing,” said Soliman.
“I will try to implement my game on court, that is my goal and hopefully it will work out.”
El Sirty came back from two games down to avoid an upset against fellow Egyptian Aly Abou Eleinen, while No.3 seed Raphael Kandra also required five games to see off the threat of Colombia’s Ronald Palomino. Omar Mosaad, Mohamed ElSherbini and Yahya Elnawasany were the other men’s victors.
In the women’s event, top seeds Salma Hany and Nour El Tayeb made strong starts to the tournament with respective wins over Jana Shiha and Satomi Watanabe.
Hany, the No.1 seed and World No.9, completed the win in under half an hour, prevailing 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 to set up a quarter-final clash with No.6 seed Nadine Shahin.
“Obviously, I was very excited to kick off my season today, Jana is a tricky first opponent, so I am pretty happy with my performance to get through in three,” Hany said.
“I am not really thinking about that [the title], I am just taking it as a normal tournament. I just want to win every match, it doesn’t matter if I am seeded No.1 or even No.30, I show up every day to put up a fight and ready to win a match.”
El Tayeb will go up against unseeded Marina Stefanoni of the United States in the last eight following her 13-11, 11-3, 11-4 win against Watanabe.
“The target for me, as it is for any player in the tournament, is to win the event,” El Tayeb said.
“This event is very important for me if I want to get into the top eight. I’m taking it match by match, obviously, and trying not to look ahead. Hopefully I can play well tomorrow and take it from there.”
Stefanoni is through to her biggest PSA quarter-final and is the only unseeded woman to reach the last eight here after she upset No.5 seed Emily Whitlock in an exciting five-game battle over at the ‘traditional’ plaster courts on the other side of Zed Park. Nele Gilis, Hana Ramadan, Farida Mohamed and Melissa Alves also claimed wins on day two.
The CIB Zed Squash Open continues tomorrow with the quarter-finals (August 26). Play begins at 13:00 (GMT+2), while action from the glass court gets under way at 18:45 (GMT+2). All matches will be shown live on SQUASHTV.
2022 CIB Zed Squash Open, Zed Park, Cairo, Egypt.
Men’s Second Round:
 Victor Crouin (FRA) bt Juan Camilo Vargas (COL) 3-2: 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7 (77m)
Balazs Farkas (HUN) bt  Karim El Hammamy (EGY) 3-1: 11-4, 11-1, 10-12, 11-8 (63m)
 Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) bt Henry Leung (HKG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (38m)
 Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Leandro Romiglio (ARG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (36m)
 Raphael Kandra (GER) bt Ronald Palomino (COL) 3-2: 7-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-4, 11-8 (53m)
 Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) bt Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 8-11, 17-15, 11-9 (59m)
 Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) bt Aly Abou Eleinen (EGY) 3-2: 8-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (77m)
 Youssef Soliman (EGY) bt Rui Soares (POR) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-9 (37m)
Men’s Quarter-Finals (August 26):
 Victor Crouin (FRA) v Balazs Farkas (HUN
 Yahya Elnawasany (EGY) v  Omar Mosaad (EGY)
 Raphael Kandra (GER) v  Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY)
 Moustafa El Sirty (EGY) v  Youssef Soliman (EGY)
Women’s Second Round:
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Jana Shiha (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 (28m)
 Nadine Shahin (EGY) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-1: 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 (36m)
 Melissa Alves (FRA) bt Sana Ibrahim (EGY) 3-0: 11-8, 11-3, 11-6 (33m)
 Farida Mohamed (EGY) bt Mariam Metwally (EGY) 3-2: 5-11, 11-9, 11-13, 11-5, 11-3 (54m)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-2: 13-15, 11-6, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8 (63m)
 Hana Ramadan (EGY) bt [WC] Menna Hamed (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-4 (44m)
Marina Stefanoni (USA) bt  Emily Whitlock (WAL) 3-2: 10-12, 11-3, 13-11, 9-11, 11-8 (64m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Satomi Watanabe (JPN) 3-0: 13-11, 11-3, 11-4 (29m)
Women’s Quarter-Finals (August 26):
 Salma Hany (EGY) v  Nadine Shahin (EGY)
 Melissa Alves (FRA) v  Farida Mohamed (EGY)
 Nele Gilis (BEL) v  Hana Ramadan (EGY)
Marina Stefanoni (USA) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour