Farag delights the crowd in Qatar
Categories : Squash news around the world
Ali Farag rounded up a perfect week today in Doha (Photo credit: PSA World Tour)
Main story: Ali Farag wins a second major title in Doha
Firmly established in the world top 3 since his win at the 2017 US Open, Ali Farag had to wait over a year to clinch his second major title. He did it in style, beating Simon Rösner in straight games in the final of the Qatar Classic today.
Farag makes no secret that he has his eyes on the World No.1 spot. And with Mohamed Elshorbagy exit in the quarters, his win in Doha could be an important step towards that goal. His 2018 Qatar Classic campaign could also have ended early though, but he was able to overcome Mohamed Abouelghar in the 2nd round, 11-9 in the fifth game. After that he played better and better in each round, successively beating Saurav Ghosal, Karim Abdel Gawad, Tarek Momen, and Simon Rösner in the final. However it was the German - who came out as the winner of their last encounter at the US Open semifinal a few weeks ago - who began the stronger of the two, taking a quick lead (6-2) despite the 1,800 people crowd cheering for his opponent. “At the beginning, when I saw how crazy the crowd was, that made me nervous and it took me a little while to calm down,” said Farag (Source: PSA World Tour). “The atmosphere was beyond my imagination. Mid-way through the first game I managed to settle down, and I tried to make sure it was long and that I wasn’t giving away any cheap points. I was behind and I didn’t think I would win it, so I think it made a huge difference psychologically." The world No.2 was almost faultless after that, closing the match in 3 games and only 46 minutes. “I’m very happy with the win, and how I backed up match after match this week.” Rösner was gracious in defeat, admitting that he lost "to the better player today. I made a few errors – I hung in there, I tried very hard and everything I could, but he was just too good. I don’t have any regrets, getting in another final is huge for me."
Diego Elias and Joel Makin had some majors wins in Qatar (Photo credits: Qatar Classic Squash)
Two young players had the best result of their career in Doha: former world junior champion Diego Elias downed Mohamed Elshorbagy after a 5 game thriller, reaching his first ever semi-final in a major event. But the Peruvian did not have gas left in the tank against Simon Rösner. Welshman Joel Makin had also beaten the squash World No.1 recently in St George's Hill. He continued his run of form in Qatar, ousting Miguel Angel Rodriguez after a 106 minute marathon. For his first quarter final at such a stage, the 25-year old was close to leading 2-1 against Tarek Momen but finally surrendered after having played 4 hours and 55 minutes in his four matches in Doha ...
Other squash news in October
--- Squash showcases its assets at the Youth Olympic Games
Regardless of what happens in the near future, October 2018 will remain an important date for squash. For the first time in its history, it was part of an Olympic event, being a showcase sport at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires. It was a great opportunity for squash to demonstrate its assets, as well as an important step in its bid for Paris 2024. First of all, it was a popular success. “It's exceeded all expectations,” said Jacques Fontaine. The Frenchman has been at the head of the World Squash Federation (WSF) since 2016, and he's made the olympic bid one of the pillars of his presidency. Over 30,000 people are reported to have attended the showcases, and more than 2,000 enthusiastic children from the local schools held a squash racket and hit a squash ball for the very first time. Some of them had the chance to go into the interactive court, developed by German company interactiveSquash in partnership with the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and World Squash Federation. This technology transforms the court into a playground, with reactive displays showing the location of ball impacts on the wall, as well as interactive gaming modules for the children discovering squash. The showcase was also a political success. The YOG are regarded as a testing ground for the IOC, and squash certainly made an impression in Argentina. We saw Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi step onto court and experience the sport first-hand, and the delegation also met informally with other high officials. For Jacques Fontaine, “Maria Toorpakai Wazir's presentation was also an important moment. We are honoured to have such strong voices advocating for inclusion through sport on behalf of the squash family.” Toorpakai Wazir, whose remarkable journey to become a professional athlete saw her disguise herself as a boy in order to train, compete and attend school in defiance of imposed Taliban rule in her home region of Waziristan, Pakistan, spoke at the inaugural Olympism in Action Forum and said it was a “perfect opportunity to talk about the importance of sports and how it can transform individuals and communities for a better world.” Fontaine is also delighted with the collaboration between his Federation and the PSA, for their “first major sporting and political event together.” But despite all these positive signals, he's willing to remain “action-oriented. We are sticking to the line and time frame established with Weber Shandwick (the communication agency – very knowledgeable in olympic issues – appointed by the two squash bodies). We know the rules, and are ready to respond to the IOC's requests.” The Paris 2024 organising committee should submit a new sports proposal to the IOC in the first half of 2019, and the final decision will be announced after the Tokyo Games, probably in December 2020. After three failed bids, will squash be included in the olympic family? Only time will tell …
The squash showcase at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires was a great success (Photo credit: World Squash Federation & IOC)
--- Before the Qatar Classic, there was more success for the squash main powerhouse: once again the Egyptian players put their hands on every single major trophy in October, starting with Mohamed Elshorbagy and Raneem El Welily at the US Open.
In 2017-2018, Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Simon Rösner had been the sole non Egyptian winners in the 16 World Series events, men and women. The German player has picked up where he left off and continues to be a threat for the Egyptian stranglehold, but like in Qatar he couldn't go all the way in the US Open. After leading 2-1 against Mohamed Elshorbagy in the final, he saw the World No.1 take the upper hand, for what was his 28th final in a major at only 27 years old. “I need to give credit to Rösner, he played amazing throughout the whole week,” said the winner, referring to his opponent's win in the semis against defending champion Ali Farag. “I’m pleased to win my third U.S. Open title. I was a bit disappointed, but I lost to the better player and had no regrets. This year, I wanted to come and try and do one match better and luckily I was able to do that and it came together this week.” Thanks to this win, Elshorbagy was extending his incredible streak of 10 titles - and 14 finals - in his last 16 tournaments. In the women's draw, it was another final between the two best players in the world. Impressive so far this season, Raneem El Welily carried the momentum forward and beat her rival and friend Nour Elsherbini in straight games. The World No.1 had the lead in the 2nd and 3rd games but El Welily was able to claw back and put her hands on her first US Open trophy. “Last year I made it to the final and couldn’t quite make it to the end,” said El Welily. "The U.S. Open has been one of the titles that I have always loved and one I have wanted to win for a long time now. It’s definitely a special moment for me. I’m sure Nour will come back fighting and they will be more good battles. Hopefully I can get back to World No.1, it’s my dream and I will continue to fight for it.” As the winners of a Platinum squash event, El Welily and Elshorbagy are already qualified for the PSA World Tour Finals in June in Dubai. Discover our special promo Shorbagy pack, available on My Squash.
Elshorbagy, El Welily, El Tayeb, Momen: as usual Egyptian players dominated the PSA World Tour in October (Photo credits: PSA World Tour & SquashSite)
It had been four years since Tarek Momen had won a title on the PSA World Tour. "But surely he wouldn't have waited so long if he was playing 10k events," joked Danny Lee - promoter of the Channel VAS Championships ($106,000), where the World No.4 beat fellow countryman Ali Farag after a 87 minute fight. Momen is one of those players who only plays big squash tournaments, hence a very small title tally - 5 - compared to his abilities. After seven lost finals since 2014, his win in St George's Hill is the biggest one of a career that had been flourishing lately. "I won very few titles because I never went for winning the [smaller] tournaments," he said after the match. "I always tried to get in the biggest tournaments my ranking would allow to expose myself to the best players. As I had college studies, I didn’t have time to lose if I wanted to climb up the rankings. I’m really happy with how I’ve progressed mentally over the past year and a half. I used to give up when I was really tired, now I’m much better at it. I can be exhausted, but I can still push and find other plans.” Momen also showed he's a very fair player, agreeing to replay the point after Farag saw his opponent's shot touch the tin on match ball ... Fortunately for him, he was able to close out the match immediately after this. World No.3 Nour El Tayeb claimed her first title of the season at the Carol Weymuller Open in Brooklyn, United States. Tournament top seed was in strong form all week, defeating compatriot Hania El Hammamy, India’s Joshna Chinappa and England’s Alison Waters en route to the final, where she beat Sarah-Jane Perry in 4 games. "At the beginning of this season I think I put too much pressure on myself to do better than last year,” said 25-year-old El Tayeb. “Being in the top four area I was too desperate. I should have enjoyed it more being in the mix. Then I lost early last week too [at the U.S. Open] so I just thought I should enjoy, relax and give it the best I could and this result shouldn’t matter.
Source: PSA World Tour
--- October World Rankings
Tesni Evans has become the first Welsh woman ever to break into the world top 10, after reaching the semi-finals of the U.S. Open in October. She is also the first Welsh player, male or female, to feature in the top 10 since David Evans - whom she is not related to - in 2002. Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini marked her 23rd birthday with a 31st successive month at World No.1, but she could lose top spot to compatriot Raneem El Welily if the older Egyptian can get further than her in the Hong Kong Open later this month. Nour El Tayeb stays at No.3 ahead of France’s Camille Serme in No.4, while England’s Laura Massaro moves up a place to end a seven-month hiatus from the top five. Malaysia’s eight-time World Champion Nicol David returns to the top 10 after last month saw her record 177-month run in the top 10 come to an end. Former World No.6 Amanda Sobhy moves up five places to No.13. Nottingham-based Declan James has moved up four places to World No.16 to become England Squash’s No.1 male player. James reached the third round of the U.S. Open and the second round of the Channel VAS Championships last month, where he gave a good account of himself against Tarek Momen and Ali Farag, respectively. Egypt’s Mohamed ElShorbagy tops the rankings for a ninth successive month. Ali Farag (No.2), Marwan ElShorbagy (No.3), Tarek Momen (No.4) and Simon Rösner retain their places in an unchanged top five. Behind James, the biggest rise within the top 20 is Australia’s Ryan Cuskelly, who climbs three places to No.13.
Source: PSA World Tour
November PSA World rankings (Photo credits: PSA World Tour)
November squash hotspots
--- The main event in November will be the Hong Kong Squash Open, starting on the 19th. It'll be interesting to see how Mohamed Elshorbagy bounces back after two early exits in St George's Hill and Qatar. The World No.1 and defending champion will start his campaign against Ryan Cuskelly, who won their last encounter at the ToC. Elshorbagy could also clash with Ramy Ashour in the quarters but the 3-time World Champion - who hasn't played a match since May - may have to beat Joel Makin and Paul Coll before that. Other potential quarter fiinals are Abouelghar v Momen, Rosner v Rodriguez and Gawad v Farag. In the women's draw, title holder Nour Elsherbini needs to do well to protect her No.1 spot, threatened by Raneem El Welily. Here is what the quarter finals will look like if things go according to seedings: Elsherbini v Perry, King v Tayeb, Serme v Gohar and Massaro v El Welily. But a handful of players - such as in form Amanda Sobhy and Tesni Evans - will be looking to create some upsets.
Nour Elsherbini and Mohamed Elshorbagy will defend their title in a few days in Hong Kong (Photo credit: Bill Cox/Epoch Times)
Two Men's Gold tournaments will take place in November. In Qatar, the top 2 seeds are Egypt's Omar Mosaad - who's had a tough start in 2018-2019 - and German No.2 Raphael Kandra. The home crowd's hopes will rest on Abdulla Al Tamimi, currently sitting at a career high of World No.23. The Qatar player will also be featuring at the end of the month in Pakistan, where he'll be seeded 3 behind Karim Abdel Gawad and Diego Elias.
Winners: Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egypt) and Raneem El Welily (Egypt)
Winner: Tarek Momen (Egypt)
Winner: Nour El Tayeb (Egypt)
Winner: Ali Farag (Egypt)