‘I have spent a lot of time with Nicol, and that has been special’
By MATT COLES
Egyptian World No.1s Raneem El Welily and Ali Farag have both made it through to the third round of the El Gouna International Squash Open after winning on the spectacular glass court at Abu Tig Marina last night at the PSA World Tour Platinum tournament.
El Welily got the better of eight-time World Champion Nicol David in the first match on the glass court, winning in straight games, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8.
The World No.1 had met the former World No.1 27 times on the PSA World Tour, with their first meeting all the way back in 2001. David had won two-thirds of the previous clashes – including a stunning comeback from four championship balls down in the 2014 World Championship final in Cairo – but Welily had prevailed in the last six. She did so again in this one to advance to the last 16 of the tournament.
“I am really happy to have been on court with Nicol again. I was looking at the head-to-head right before the match and we have played so many times,” Welily said after the match.
“To play with her one last time, especially in Egypt, is an absolutely fantastic feeling for me. This past month, I have been spending a lot of time with her. We had an exhibition tournament in Birmingham and that was a special week for me.
“I spent so much time with her off court, for the first time ever so this past month has been really special for me, getting to know her a bit better. It has been a long journey, and I am proud to have shared some of it with her, at least.”
Also on the glass court yesterday, World No.3 Nour El Tayeb got the better of 42-year-old Rachael Grinham in straight games. The Egyptian only needed 18 minutes to seal victory, securing her passage through to the third round.
At the side courts – staged at the El Gouna Squash Complex – the big shock came through Belgium’s Tinne Gilis’ victory over India’s World No.16 Joshna Chinappa.
The 21-year-old Gilis will now appear in the third round of a PSA Platinum tournament for the first time after she held off a comeback from the Indian player to prevail 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 10-12, 11-4.
Their only previous meeting came in January’s J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions – with Chinappa winning in straight games – but it was all Gilis in the opening stages as she hit her marks early on to take a two-game advantage.
The third game went the way of Chinappa as the 32-year-old controlled proceedings, while she narrowly took the fourth on a tie-break to restore parity. Gilis regrouped impressively though and a composed performance from the Belgian saw her keep Chinappa at bay to cruise home in the decider, earning her a spot on the glass court, where she will play El Welily.
“This is the first time ever I beat a top 20 player, and it’s probably the best I’ve ever played too,” said Gilis.
“It was the same game plan as my previous match, slowing the pace down as she is a hard hitter, and then attacking only when the opportunity arose.
“I kind of knew what to expect as I played her in the second round of the ToC and lost in three. I’m lucky I had my friends and family to support me today, I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Mariam Metwally came through a feisty encounter with England’s Victoria Lust in the only other surprise victory, while former World No.1 Laura Massaro required five games to see off Gilis’ older sister, Nele.
New Zealand’s Joelle King, United States’ Amanda Sobhy and Egypt’s Salma Hany were the other women to win on day three
World No.1 Ali Farag is through to the third round of the El Gouna International after he overcame a stern test from Cameron Pilley.
The Egyptian, who is the reigning World Champion, got off to a good start in the first, but the Yamba-native bounced back and had game balls to win the opener.
However, Farag was able to save both, and turned the game on its head to win it 14-12. He then took the second 11-7 to take a commanding lead.
The Australian continued to play well, though, and eventually got a game on the board, his first in four matches against the world champion. Farag would win the fourth game to take the match, though, and move through to the third round of the tournament.
“I actually think I started off well, and then the conditions were really tough, so I think the experience played a role here and he knew how to play them better,” Farag said of Pilley.
“I think I was slightly off the mark because the turnaround between here and Holland was really short. The last person you want to play against when you are slightly flat is Cameron because he can cut you off in the middle of the court, and he did that really well in the first three [games].
“Thankfully, I think, at the end of the fourth he got a little tired and I think I took advantage of that. At all points [of the match] I was on my toes because I know he is a tough competitor. He understands the game really well. He is renowned for his hard hitting but what people don’t really appreciate is how clean he hits the ball. It is very clean and he hits his targets every shot. It is not easy to play against him, but I am glad I could pull through.”
The other men’s second round match on the glass court saw Tarek Momen beat compatriot Zahed Salem in four games. The World Championship finalist beat Salem in three quarters of an hour to move into the last 16.
The big shock of the day in the men’s draw came at the Squash Complex as England’s Adrian Waller overcame World No.18 Gregoire Marche.
The pair were meeting for the first time since 2016 – with Marche winning on that occasion – but the Frenchman was unable to really get into the Englishman this time round as Waller won 13-11, 11-6, 11-3 to advance to the next round.
Waller will now appear in the last 16 of this tournament for the first time and will play Germany’s Simon Rösner who overcame England’s Tom Richards in three at the side courts.
“Me and Gregoire have played ever since we were young. We’re similar ages, and I think it does help that I’m so familiar with his game throughout the years,” Waller said.
“Even though we haven’t played a in a long time, I still watch him. I stuck to my old tactics today, was nice and steady, and frustrated him as much as I could.
“I had to take the opportunities when they came, but the first game was the biggest hurdle. I was up, he came back, then I came back again to take it. That gave me the confidence to stick with my game plan to see if he could come back and take it away from me. Luckily he didn’t manage to get me out of it.”
The rest of the men’s action saw No.7 seed Paul Coll win his match against an injured Borja Golan in three, with Joel Makin, Diego Elias and Saurav Ghosal also moving into the last 16.
Second round action continues today, with the bottom half of the draw in action. Play begins at El Gouna Squash Complex at 12:00 local (GMT+2), with glass court action getting underway at 18:30 local, as Marwan ElShorbagy begins his defence of the title he won last year.
Matches from the glass court will be broadcast live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
El Gouna International (men’s and women’s PSA $176k events), Abu Tig Marina, El Gouna, Egypt.
Men’s Second Round (Top Half):
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Cameron Pilley (AUS) 3-1: 14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6 (54m)
Diego Elias (PER) bt Mazen Hesham (EGY) 3-1: 11-6, 11-4 6-11, 11-6 (39m)
Joel Makin (WAL) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-1: 11-3, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4 (52m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 11-3, 11-2, 11-5 (23m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-8, 11-5 (35m)
Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-0: 13-11, 11-6, 11-3 (41m)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) bt Edmon Lopez (ESP) 3-2: 11-9, 11-1, 3-11, 9-11, 11-6 (70m)
 Tarek Momen (EGY) bt Zahed Salem (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6 (44m)
Women’s Second Round (Top Half):
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Nicol David (MAS) 3-0: 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (26m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt  Joshna Chinappa (IND) 3-2: 11-8, 11-5, 6-11, 10-12, 11-4 (59m)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) bt  Victoria Lust (ENG) 3-2: 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 6-11, 11-9 (53m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-5 (30m)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) bt Nele Gilis (BEL) 3-2: 11-8, 1-11, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8 (60m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 13-11 (37m)
 Salma Hany (EGY) bt Danielle Letourneau (CAN) 3-1: 11-9, 11-2, 8-11, 11-8 (35m)
 Nour el Tayeb (EGY) bt Rachael Grinham (AUS) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-7 (18m)
Men’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) v Greg Lobban (SCO)
Iker Pajares Bernabeu (ESP) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) v Alan Clyne (SCO)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) v  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v Raphael Kandra (GER)
Youssef Soliman (EGY) v [WC] Fares Dessouky (EGY)
Nafizzwan Adnan (MAS) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Max Lee v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s Second Round (Bottom Half):
 Camille Serme (FRA) v Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA)
Hollie Naughton (CAN) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
 Annie Au (HKG) v Julianne Courtice (ENG)
Rowan Elaraby v  Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) v Millie Tomlinson (ENG)
Zeina Mickawy (EGY) v  Hania El Hammamy (EGY)
 Alison Waters (ENG) v Nadine Shahin (EGY)
Yathreb Adel (EGY) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Men’s Third Round (Top Half), Sunday April 21:
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Diego Elias (PER)
Joel Makin (WAL) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Adrian Waller (ENG)
Saurav Ghosal (IND) v  Tarek Momen (EGY)
Women’s Third Round (Top Half), Sunday April 21:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v Tinne Gilis (BEL)
Mariam Metwally (EGY) v  Joelle King (NZL)
 Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
 Salma Hany (EGY) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA