Big wins for Alison Waters and Annie Au
By SEAN REUTHE in El Gouna
New Zealand’s World No.4 Joelle King and Egypt’s World No.5 Nouran Gohar crashed out of the 2018 El Gouna International at the second round stage after they fell to Hong Kong’s Annie Au and England’s Alison Waters on day four of the PSA World Series tournament held on the banks of Egypt’s Red Sea.
King, a double gold medalist at the Commonwealth Games in Australia earlier this month, twice took the lead against Au only to see her opponent fight back on both occasions to unsettle the Kiwi.
King’s accuracy began to fade as she fatigued and she gifted Au a series of strokes, before the player from Hong Kong took full advantage to complete a surprise 6-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 victory.
“I can see Joelle is a little bit tired because she’s come here to play after the Commonwealth Games,” said Au.
“Today I just told myself to be more patient, concentrate more, try to make the rallies longer and then, when there are opportunities, take the ball short.
“I had to be really careful because when I played a loose shot, Joelle would whack the ball and I would struggle, so I tried to focus and be patient.”
Au will face World Champion Raneem El Welily in the next round after the Egyptian saw off the threat of England’s Sarah-Jane Perry – who lost out to King in the Commonwealth Games singles final – by a 3-1 margin.
Meanwhile, England’s World No.10 Alison Waters will join Au in the next round after she prevailed in a five-game battle with Egyptian World No.5 Nouran Gohar.
The match was a stop-start affair throughout with the referee called into action on a number of decisions but Waters, who had been pegged back from 2-1 up, managed to retain her composure to close out a big victory that will see her clash with World No.3 Nour El Tayeb in the next round after she beat compatriot Hania El Hammamy.
Waters said: “I am happy with the result as I played her a couple of times and didn’t manage to get a win.
“Today, after the Commonwealth [Games], I didn’t feel any kind of pressure and I felt pretty confident.”
Defending champion Gregory Gaultier moved into the quarter-finals in the men’s tournament as he defeated England’s World No.44 Chris Simpson in straight games.
The World No.3 went two games up against a tenacious Simpson, who hurtled around court to pick up Gaultier’s attempted winners, returning with some of his own to go 7-4 ahead in the third.
World No.3 Gaultier fought back though and, with the game heading into a tie-break, the 35-year-old held firm to take it 12-10 and book his place in the quarter-finals.
“In the third he played much better, he coped better with my pace I think,” said Gaultier.
“I lost a bit of my length, I was also a bit impatient and I had to push very hard at the end.
“He was very accurate and put me under more pressure. I was trying to twist and turn him, but he was moving better and I lost a bit of focus. It’s a junior mistake really, and I will have to make sure I keep my concentration better for the next round.”
Colombia’s World No.16 Miguel Angel Rodriguez will play Gaultier in the next round after overcoming Mexico’s Cesar Salazar, while World No.2 Ali Farag earned his place in the last eight courtesy of a superb display against Spain’s former World No.5 Borja Golan a day after his 26th birthday.
Farag was sublime as he did the fundamentals to absolute perfection, hitting superb line and length to bury Golan in the back corners and complete an 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 win in 32 minutes.
“I knew he was really tricky at the front of the court so I couldn’t afford to give him any loose shots,” said Farag.
“I wanted to stick to the back two corners and I think that was the key today. My length hitting was the best I could have asked for and it paid off and and gave me a lot of opportunities to be in front of him for most of the first two games especially.”
Farag will line up against Egypt’s World No.5 Tarek Momen – who has beaten Farag in their last two meetings – after he advanced past Germany’s Raphael Kandra.
The quarter-finals begin tomorrow (April 24) at 18:30 local time (GMT+2) as World No.1 Nour El Sherbini and World No.6 Camille Serme get the action under way.
2018 El Gouna International, El Gouna Marina, Egypt.
PSA M165 Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (32m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [Q] Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-5 (38m)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) bt Cesar Salazar (MEX) 3-1: 11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 18-16 (68m)
 Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Chris Simpson (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-5, 12-10 (41m)
Top Half (April 24):
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Simon Rösner (GER)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v  Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
Bottom Half (April 25):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Miguel Angel Rodriguez (COL) v  Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
PSA W165 Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-0: 11-7, 15-13, 11-5 (33m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt  Nouran Gohar (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-7, 11-6, 6-11, 11-9 (54m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt  Joelle King (NZL) 3-2: 6-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6 (49m)
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 12-10 (34m)
Top Half (April 24):
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Camille Serme (FRA)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) v  Laura Massaro (ENG)
Bottom Half (April 25):
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Annie Au (HKG) v  Raneem El Welily (EGY)
(Report by SEAN REUTHE. Edited by ALAN THATCHER)
Pictures courtesy of PSA