El Gouna International Squash Open 2012, Qualifying Finals
It was a close run thing as to who grabbed the first plane ticket to the Red Sea as qualifying finals got under way at Alexandria Sporting Club with eight matches, all of them featuring at least one Egyptian.
Omar Abdel Meguid was the marginal winner in the race, as he squandered an early lead to lose the first game against Addullah Al Mezayen, but the Egyptian was leading 5/2 in the second when Abdullah was forced to pull out due to cramp.
“Myself and Abdullah have been struggling with injuries,” admitted Meguid afterwards. “So I called my physio in Cairo who came specially before the match to make sure we were fit enough to play, gave us some treatment, and taped us up!
“I was not moving too well, but it was more about being a bit too careful! Still, Abdullah was really struggling with his movement, and had to stop. I’m so happy I’m in the main draw again.”
Meguid was followed another Egyptian winner as Wael Farag took advantage of a tired Omar Mohie, who flew in from Australia just two days ago and won a marathon against Joey Barrington yesterday. Farag took the first comfortable and led the second 7/0 before Mohie enjoyed his best spell of thje match, but from the middle of that game, his legs just wouldn’t respond, and although his heart was telling him to go on, the body was just ignoring the orders!
Mathieu Castagnet made sure that it wouldn’t be an Egyptian clean sweep, recovering from losing a tough first game against Zahed Mohamed to exert increasing control in a 3/1 victory.
“I was careful to watch Zahed play yesterday, plus, he played Little Greg in Hong Kong about three weeks ago, and I knew how a great fighter he is, and that he thrives on playing at a fast pace,” admitted the Frenchman after the match.
“I personally didn’t mind, as my natural game is also very physical, but I have to admit that at the end of the first game, I thought that if he was to go on like that much longer at that pace, I was in for a nice 3/0 defeat!
“But in the end, experience paid off, I kept on getting everything back, everything back, and managed to keep a nice cushion till the end of the match. So happy/proud to win here against such a player, they play at such a level in front of their home crowd, they simply display an extraordinary class. They truly have a “heart of squash”.
The second trio of matches all went the full distance, but this time there was only one Egyptian winner. England’s Adrian Waller was the first of the five-game winners, coming through an up and down encounter with Mohamed Abouelghar as the young Egyptian found three tins from 8-all in the decider after just over an hour.
“It was really warm today, and I lost so much fluid on there!” said Waller. “The first two games were really tough, and after he got the second, he had a bit of a drop of energy in the third, which I won really easily.
“But in the fourth, he went for a lot of his shots, and played really well. In the fifth, it was really close up to 8/8, but he made two tins, and I found a nice drop shot to win.”
“In the first three games, I just couldn’t breathe on there, not helped by the fact I’ve had a flu for a few days now. But in the fourth, I got my confidence back, and told myself, yes, I can do this, don’t give up.
“He is really and up and coming player, a bit wild, but it’s part of the game. And I’m really glad to go to El Gouna for the first time, really excited!”
Then, prevailing in an often untidy match with more than its fair share of controversial and disputed decisions, Andrew Wagih came from behind in the fifth to deny Campbell Grayson in just under two hours.
Rounding out the main draw were England’s Robbie Temple and, making it a 50% success rate for Egypt, Amr Khalid Khalifa, who were drawn out at the top and bottom of the main draw, to play Saurav Ghosal and Ramy Ashour.
Saturday is a rest day, as the qualifiers and officials head South to El Gouna where the state of the art Glass Court is nearing completion.
Qualifying Finals, Alexandria Sporting Club
Mathieu Castagnet (Fra) bt Zahed Mohamed (Egy) 10/12, 11/5, 11/3, 11/3 (48m)
Wael Farag (Egy) bt Omar Mohie (Egy) 11/6, 11/4, 11/4 (25m)
Omar Abdel Meguid (Egy) bt Abdullah Al Muzayen (Kuw) bt 9/11, 5/2 rtd
Adrian Waller (Eng) bt Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 12/10, 9/11, 11/2, 7/11, 11/8m (65m)
Andrew Wagih (Egy) bt Campbell Grayson (Nzl) 3/11, 11/9, 11/8, 9/11, 11/8 (109m)
Ivan Yuen (Mas) bt Karim Ali Fathi (Egy) 8/11, 11/4, 7/11, 11/7, 11/9 (97m)
Robbie Temple (Eng) bt Karim AGA Samy (Egy) 11/7, 10/12, 11/8, 11/6 (65m)
Amr Khaled Khalifa (Egy) bt Amr Swelim (Ita) 11/7, 11/8, 11/4 (32m)
Main draw: Ghosal v Temple, Shorbagy v Yuen, Kemp v Meguid, Darwish v Waller, Matthew v Wagih, Reda v Farag, H.Ashour v Castagnet, R.Ashour v Khalifa (Lucky loser 1 Mohie, 2 Fathi, 3 Zahed)
Full Coverage: www.elgounaopensquash.com