2015 Men's World Championship Bellevue - Day FOUR
Fram & Matthew starting at PRO Sports, Steve at Meydenbauer

[2] Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-1 Cameron Pilley (Aus) 11-8 , 11-6, 8-11, 11-9 (67m)

Matthew survives tough opening match

Not really fair on other player probably, to have such a big match to start the tournament, where normally the top boys like to ease in tournaments. Not the case here.

Nick, out of Qatar because of a trapped blood vessel in his stomach that prevented him from functioning properly not to mention being in pain regularly, was now fully fit for this match. But needed to reassure himself he was in form enough to compete at the level he needs to be for the worlds. As for Cam, maybe a bit too much pressure on himself? Maybe thinking that it’s a chance to get through, with Nick not being 100% back yet….

Who knows. What I know is that Cameron just didn’t play the squash he can play today. And yes, a lot has to do with the opponent of course, but not only… His width was just not accurate enough against a player that masters volleying as Nick does, his backhand drives were ending in the middle of the court, and far far far too many unforced errors, we are talking about really shots in the middle of the tin here. I counted an average of 5 per game, only 2 in the game he won, and 6 in the last game…

Nick was in front for the first two games, not playing the best squash he ever played, but accurate enough to keep the Australian behind him. Maybe a bit of drop of focus or/and tiredness at the start of the 3rd from the English, or a great wake-up from Cameron who suddenly finds his squash: deep at the back, good construction of rallies, good hitting, great to watch. A really good spell in there, he takes the game 11/8.

The fourth looks very good for Cameron too, and I truly thought we were in for a 5th here, as Nick looked a bit tired from the start of the game, and uncharacteristic unforced errors at 5/5, 5/6, seemed to prove me right. But as ever, the stubborn/won’t die attitude from the Three Times World Champ led him to give it a huge push, and scores 3 points in a row. Cameron, who probably like us thought he had him, went a bit on the back foot, and just lost the momentum he sure had. Nick closes it in 67m, 11/9, on a tin…

I tried not to look at the draw too early, but after I lost in the semis in the US, I had plenty of time to think about the match, and that can be a bad thing, because you suddenly find yourself thinking too much about the man and not concentrate on the man. And that’s what happened today…. We always had some great battles, he’s been a tricky player for me, and I’m happy to come through a match that could be a dangerous banana slip.

On a dead court, I had some trouble to go past him on the backhand especially, he was getting better and better there, and I had some problem balancing accuracy and intend, I was up in my movement, but then I was playing bad shots.

And if in the first two games, I was in front of him, I found myself behind him in the third, he was volleying so well, and when you are attacking from the wrong position, you find yourself becoming negative. And that’s why maybe I appeared to be tired, it was more of tactic problem on a very dead court. But at the end, it was more a question of switching to plan B, then plan C!!!

It’s good to have a first win in the tournament, you know what it is when you play that first round, it’s all about blowing out the cobwebs, and in my case, making sure I erase the bad mental image I have from my two last matches in the US Open, getting my confidence back in my game, in myself, stepping forward, have a day of rest, and then starting the second round from fresh…

[12] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 3-0 [Q] Andrew Wagih (Egy) 11-6, 11-4, 16-14 (35m)

"This is my first time in Bellevue, I didn’t know where it was when I saw the name the first time, but now, I really like the place, everybody is soooo nice, and everything is just all around us, it’s just perfect.

Yes, my part of the draw is full of Egyptians, we should have stayed to play in Egypt!!!

We know each other’s game so well, we have been rooming since we are 10 and playing each other since the age of 8! He is one of my best mate, so it’s never easy, and I how tough he is mentally, and how hard I was going to have to work to beat him today.

The third, I had a bit of drop of focus, and he was in there like a shot, I found myself 7/2, or 7/3 down, but I didn’t want to lose that game, I knew how hard it would be for me in the 4th, I know how tough he can be, so I gave it a big push.

I also want to say how happy I am to see him back and fit, he’s been suffering with many injuries for the past 3, 4 years, and he deserves to be much higher in the rankings"

We know each other’s game pretty inside out, but I haven’t seen him at all for a year, only on SquashTV! I studied his game he is so dangerous at the front…

My main problem today was to stay focused for a long period. I can win a few points in the row, play at a great level of squash, Shabana was telling me that I can be playing like a top 10, then I play one bad shot, and I play like a junior! That’s something I’ll have to work on from a mental point of view

Of course, I would have like to stick a bit longer in the tournament, but overall, I’m happy with my performance today, but most of all, I’m over the moon to be injury free…

[14] Borja Golan (Esp) 3-1 Alister Walker (Bot) 8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-7 (61m)

A very interesting/disputed match today between two fighters/warriors/gladiators. Two contrasting styles, with Borga intense, emotional and vocal and Ali, restraint at all times.

I love the match. It was fair, yes, a few too many lets, but nothing bad truly, with Ali playing very well in the first game, but with Borja finding his targets in the next three. A logical result, and a very good solid start for the Spaniard, whose humble attitude is always refreshing for me. As for Ali, so nice to see him coming back to his former level (he is no 26, he was 12). Always enjoyed the boy’s squash….

When you are trying to volley a lot, there is a few traffic problems as the match advances and you are both getting tired, but we are both fair players, I’ve know Ali since the juniors, there is absolutely no problem there.

Six years ago, I had a bad injury, it’s far in the past, but although nobody wants an injury, there is a lot of positive one can learn from it….

In the first game, no, Ali didn’t surprise me, I know how dangerous he can be, and I think I was playing to the back of the court, not attacking enough, and he took advantage of it. So from the 2nd onwards, I attacked more, volleyed more, and didn’t boast too much at I felt that my game was more effective today when I was playing straight.

The world champs is the most important event of the year, although all the events are important. I just don’t know how many more years I can play in the Champs, so I’m trying to do my best, hopefully I can play well and win a few more matches!!!

[8] Tarek Momen (Egy) 3-2 [Q] Joe Lee (Eng) 8-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-9 (87m)

Momen comeback denies Lee

In December 2013, those two played in KW. And Joe led 2/0, to finally lose 11/8 in 63m. Today, he lost 11/9 in 87m, from the same position. Heartbreaking for the 26 years old Englishman, 52 in the World…

I have to stress something. My utter admiration for Joe’s character who today, never showed how happy he was to be 2/0, never went crazy, when he saw the points/games running away from him, he just put his head down, and kept working. And when he lost those two last shots at the bad end of ridiculously amazing rallies, he never lost his demeanour, and not a word, not a single word of discussion to the refs. What an example to follow.

It was a stunning match. From beginning to end. With the Englishman playing the best squash he ever played I’m pretty sure, finding some shot shots that even Tarek couldn’t match. That tells you something. And yes, as ever, a few too many tins from Tarek, but not that much. It was all Joe playing magnificent squash.

The third is crucial, as in the middle of the game, 8/5, Joe starts to go a bit negative. Did he suddenly realised what he was accomplishing? Did he start thinking? He stopped what took him there a bit, and send the ball to the back… till the 4th, 3/6 down, where he started again attacking, going for his shots, and just astonishing us/dazzling us with his squash.

Tarek is up in the 4th all the way, but Joe is close, very close, 5/6, 6/7, still, Tarek find the Momentor pace, 10/7, but can only take the game 11/9. Joe is back in contention, the momentum has changed, and will stay changed until 3/1, 6/3, 7/4 in that decider.

At the moment, I thought the young man had Tarek. The Egyptian bless him looked a bit tired, but an enormous rally at 7/5, where Joe makes his first error on the game, and which gives Tarek the taste of victory on the tongue.

7/7, 8/8, 9/9. We all hold our breath. Another relentlessly astoundingly superb squash, inventive, flair, delicate, fair, it has it all. But yet again, like last time they met, it’s the Egyptian that finds the last two winners, 11/9.

We gave them a standing ovation. Truly and utterly one of those matches you don’t have to have a loser to…

Would you believe, it’s actually the second time he does that to me… So my whole preparation was for me NOT to find myself in that position again, and here I was, in that position again.

2/0 down, 4/0 down, I saw myself packing, pulling out of Hong Kong and take a break from the tour. I started my season horrifically badly, but I thought I was getting better, each tournament, US Open, Qatar, even if I lost to Karim, I thought I was playing better. And here I was, 4/0 in the 3rd….

So I told myself, right, this is not your day, doesn’t matter, you HAVE to win, you cannot lose, do whatever you have to do, win ugly, but just win.

Yes, it’s good to have a good hard match in the first round, but not coming back from 3/2, 100m match, where you crack up at the end!!!!

I thought I played well today, but he was just so good, I just played a very good player on the day, it was ridiculous really!!! I hope I can play better still in the next rounds, and hopefully win a few more matches.

[7] Omar Mosaad (Egy) 3-1 [Q] Farhan Zaman (Pak) 11-8, 7-11, 11-1, 11-2 (42m)

“I’m happy to move through to the second round.

“It’s the World Championship so it’s very important to everyone. I think everyone is aiming to put in a good performance. The first match in the World Championship always has a little bit of pressure.

“I lost my control and focus in the second game so I tried to improve myself. After that I started to focus again, particularly at the beginning of the third.”

Omar Mosaad

[4] Ramy Ashour (Egy) 3-0 Mazen Hesham (Egy) 11-5, 11-9, 11-7 (26m)

Defending champ is back

A clearly impaired Mazen with a flexor muscle injury in the right leg couldn’t really defend his chances today, but very philosophically, Amazing Mazen stated “I can’t complain, he is the world champion, and he’s been playing his whole career with worse injuries than that”.

Still great fast rallies, ridiculous angles, normal day at the Artist/AmazingMazen office really… As for Ramy, he is fine… for now…. La suite au prochain episode – until next episode…

I feel fine, I didn’t feel any pain in the hamstring today. Last time I felt it was 10 days ago Wednesday. We just don’t know what happens, we don t know why it happens, or why it doesn’t happen. Nobody knows. So I’m trying not to go for snappy movement but more for more conservation movement, I learn that from Thierry Lincou and his coach Paul Sciberras. You try and learn as much as you can, and you try to incorporate it into your game.

Mazen is such a good player, I enjoy it today, not sure I’ll be enjoying it for much longer in the future. It’s so refreshing to see such a player, I have my hair a bit shorter, but yes, we are pretty similar, he goes for quick stuff…

Like Shorbagy said yesterday, sometimes you are faced with test of character, I’ve been facing that kind of test for the past 10, 15 years! It’s all about a mental attitude, trying to surround yourself with positive people, even if sometimes, you can’t control everything, but it’s all about the mental aspect really, and just learning to deal with whatever life throws at you.

In that regard, it’s nice to have somebody as inspiring at Shabana, he knows a lot about that mental stuff, it’s amazing to have his support for a little while now, although as the Egyptians keep playing each other, he is not doing much!!!! ONLY KIDDING!!!!

My main responsibility is not to inspire the younger generation at this point in my life, it’s only to stay injury free. I have enough pressure on myself without having to add that kind of thoughts.

I’m happy with the way I played, I just need to try and play like that for the rest of the week, it’s so amazing to play with those great athletes, you take if for granted sometimes, but it’s a blessing, it’s a blessing to be moving freely and just lounging, just lounging in the four corners is a BIIIIIIG Blessing….

[15] Stephen Coppinger (Rsa) 3-0 Chris Simpson (Eng) 11-9 , 11-7, 11-4 (54m)

"Anyone today is a good win for me!

We used to train a lot together, I was based in Leeds, he was in Harrogate, he rose in the rankings quicker than I did and got off the marks better than I did. But David Palmer has a lot to do with my improvement, he really added a dimension to my game.

And matches like that I can look at and win, are matches I couldn’t even dream about wining before I started working with Dave. You know a lot in the game has to do with belief, and when you have somebody like David that believes in you, it makes a huge difference…"

Steve Coppinger

[10] Marwan Elshorbagy (Egy) 3-0 Leo Au (Hkg) 12-10, 11-9, 13-11 (69m)

Cramping or not cramping…

This match was not only a close battle, but had a zest of controversy in it…

It was too close for comfort for Marwan today, who had to go and play some really good squash to oust young Leo from Hong Kong, ranked 27.

From the first point to the last, the rallies were gruelling, intense and with a lot of change of direction. Marwan takes the first game whereas he was led 7/4, on his second game ball, 12/10 in 21 long minutes. Marwan calls the Egyptian masseur between the games…

Leo is taking an excellent start in the 2nd, 3/0 and will lead 7/5, 9/7, only so see his lead disappear and lose the game 11/9 in 17m, another long and gruelling rally. Again, the masseur is called…

The third seems to go fast, 6/2, but suddenly, a big push from Leo, who catches up 7/7. Marwan takes the lead again, 9/7, Leo comes back yet again, and gets a first game ball, 10/9. A stroke takes care of that, 10/10. But as Marwan asks for a let hoping for a stroke on the right side, he asks for a video review as he takes his shoes off, and starts stretching his toes as he was cramping.

“Can I have 3m injury break” he asks as the video review is confirming the call? Yes says the central ref. The HK coach Fahim and David Palmer, who are coaching Leo, are making their voice clear: he is cramping, 100% they said.

Not sure what was said to the refs, but 3m later, Marwan comes back on court and saves another game ball at 11/10, but at 11/11, seems to suffer from his calf again! Leo gets a bit excited, and instead of making the rally last, goes for a shot and tins. Match ball, 12/11. How Marwan manages to win the next rally in 3 shots and a nick, is nothing short of a small miracle… 13/11, match Marwan…

I’m not cramping at all… I’m fine…

It’s the first time I’m playing him, he is such a good player, he is young, he had some pretty impressive wins in Shanghai, he is improving, he is going to be very dangerous very soon…

Everyone told me how nice this city and part of the world is, but it’s really true, I’m loving it here, and today, I have the world number 1 and the four times World Champ, in my corner, I had to win…

Marwan Elshorbagy

Matthew Lombardi reports from the PRO Club

Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-1 Shaun Le Roux (Rsa) 11-7, 10-12, 11-7, 11-1 (59m)

The match started as bread-and-butter squash -- long rallies, both players moving well and doing a good job of sending each other around the court. Very solid, nothing tricky, Coll makes a few fewer errors to take the game.

Game 2 Coll started hitting a few loose balls and La Roux capitalized, building a lead to 10-7. From there Coll seemed to get an adrenaline injection -- he was springing around the court, working his way back to 10-10, and though La Roux took the game 12-10, momentum seemed in Coll's favor.

As he kept the charge up in the third, La Roux started to show signs of frustration -- trying to cut shots too fine, disputing calls, eventually losing the game 11-7. The tide wasn't going to change. La Roux's concentration seemed shot while Coll kept focused, finishing things off 11-1.

“I’m extremely happy to make it into the second round.

“I was targeting this match as a huge game and opportunity for me, there’s not much between us in the rankings so I knew it would be close. I’m really pleased and excited to be on the glass court now in an amazing venue.

“In the third I tried to use my pace to up the speed of the match and counter him and get into his legs and I felt like it worked and then in the forth when I got to 5-0 I knew I could push on to take it.

“Being in the second round, the last 32 in the world, is huge. I’ve got nothing to lose now so I’ll give it my all in front of the cameras.”

Diego Elias (Per) 3-0 Adrian Grant (Eng) 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (33m)

It was a case of the kid being steadier than the experienced! Elias was focused and clinical, while early on Grant's mind didn't seem to be in the match.

Typical slow start from Grant, and in the third he looked primed for a classic comeback -- there was spring in his step as he extended rallies. But finishing points was a mixed bag for him, with too many errors to keep the consistent, persistent Peruvian at bay.

"It my first time in the World Championship and I couldn’t have asked for a better start. It was a good match and to win 3-0 gives me a lot of confidence going into the next round.

“I’m very happy to be in the last 32 and I’m very excited now to play on the glass court in front of the cameras and the SquashTV again so I’m very excited.

“I played some of my best squash today and I’ve been training for this for a long time. I’m happy with how I played. He’s very experienced and I knew he would be tough. I had some nerves and I knew he would have experience and he made it very tough but I’m very very happy to win."


[Q] Karim El Hammamy (Egy) 3-2 Declan James (Eng)
           12-10, 15-13, 3-11, 5-11, 11-4 (108m)

If ever there were a match of turning tides, this was it.

Things started deliberately, with Karim craftily constructing rallies, dictating a slow pace and daring Declan to hit a shot he couldn't retrieve. It worked to start with -- Karim jumped to the lead and held on to win the first game, but you could sense Declan growing more comfortable and confident, rising to Karim's challenge.

Game 2, Declan jumps to a 7-2 lead; Karim changes tactics, ups the pace, and fights back to 9-10. A cut on his finger leads to a long blood stoppage. Down match ball, Karim makes a remarkable dive followed by an even more remarkable attack, wins a point Declan surely thought was his, and goes on to take the game.

An hour of squash, Karim up 2-0 after an impressive comeback -- seems like he's in the driver's seat. But mentally he's exhausted. Declan becomes a towering force on the T, takes game 3 in the blink of an eye. Errors continue to come off Karim's racquet, Declan takes the fourth handily as well, and looks in control.

The decider turns out to be a repeat of game 1, with an hour of court sprints in between. Karim rediscovers his length, extends rallies, and suddenly Declan is finding the tin. It was an impressive comeback to end a long, exhausting match.

“It was a really tough match - I had to put in so much effort to win those first games, especially the second one,” said El Hammamy. “I was struggling to play a basic drive in the third game and I was struggling - he was totally controlling it.

“But I knew I had to give it one last push in the fifth game and not to surrender to my mind. I played some very tough rallies at the start and I managed to get through it in the end.

“I knew it was important to be controlling the match at the start and I had to do so much work to come back and save game ball in the first two games to win them but I knew that would be a big advantage early in the match.

“Being in the second round means a lot. It’s my first experience of the senior world championship and it proves to me that I can compete at this level."

Mohamed Abouelghar (Egy) 3-1 [Q] Shawn Delierre (Can) 11-6, 5-11, 11-3, 11-7 (36m)

They played at a fast-pace that suited Abou better than Shawn. The Egyptian looked the cool customer, happy to attack at every opportunity, while Shawn struggled to find his rhythm and keep his shots tight.

"He plays very random squash, so I knew I had to stick to my plan, attack as much as I could. But the second game I lost my focus, went short too early, and he took advantage. Overall I'm very happy with the way I played today."

Mohamed Abouelghar

Nafiizwan Adnan (Mas) 3-0 [Q] Charles Sharpes (Eng) 11-5, 11-8, 11-9 (48m)

It was a match-up of distinctly different personalities. Adnan for the most part went about his business quietly, hitting good length, waiting for his opportunities and capitalizing on them more often than not. Sharpes was not happy with the refs, or at times with Adnan's movement, and his focus seemed to suffer as a result.

"In the first and second I was really focused. Squash for me now is all about mental toughness, putting the right shot in the right place every time. Charles is a good player, but if I had been able to do that all the way through the third game things would have ended quicker.

"I'm happy to be in the second round. It's my third year making it this far, and I hope to go farther this year. I may play Omar Mosaad in the next round. He's a top-10 player, but I beat him earlier this year in Macau, so if I do end up playing him I'm confident about my chances."

Nafiizwan Adnan

Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-1 Zahed Mohamed (Egy) 11-8, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8 (65m)

This was pretty clearly the highest quality match of the day at the Pro Club. Mohamed was the intense and determined, Selby cool and professional, proving there's one than one way to play focused squash. Length and width were textbook from both; Selby won the first with a backhand drive that Mohamed couldn't scrape off the side wall. More of the same in the second, with Selby turning the screw at the end, pulling away to win the last three points.

Mohamed couldn't be denied in the third -- maybe a bit of a lapse from Selby, but mainly just immaculate squash from the Egyptian. The fourth swung back and forth to 8-8, but as in the first two games, Selby managed to find an edge when he needed it, again taking the final three points.

Gregoire Marche (Fra) 3-0 [Q] Henrik Mustonen (Fin) 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 (45m)

"I know Henrik very well. I've probably played him more on tour than anyone else, and we were in the same age group as juniors. Coming into this year I think we were 4-4 on the PSA, but we've played three times in the last two months, and I've won each time 3-0, which I think means my level is going up.

"I'm trying to think a little more on the court. Physically today I wasn't my best. I'm dealing with jet lag, and I'm feeling a little sick. I don't think I would have been able to play yesterday, but my whole team -- my coach, my physio -- did a great job of getting me ready to play today. I'm happy to be in the second round, and I think I'll be stronger after the rest day."

Gregoire Marche


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