Quarter-Finals : Siva and Declan gatecrash last four

Quarter-Finals Day at the Ally Pally

The inaugural London Squash Classic continued today with eight Quarter-Final matches on the Glass Court at Alexandra Palace – still on the best-of-three format.

There was a huge upset in the women’s draw as Malaysia’s Siva Subramaniam ousted top seed and World #1 Nour El Sherbini in straight games. She’ll play Nele Gilis for a place in the final, while Egyptian duo Hania El Hammamy and Nouran Gohar will meet in the other semi.

Men’s top seeds Paul Coll and Mostafa Asal progressed and they’ll both face British opposition after dramatic wins for wildcard Declan James and Wales’ Joel Makin.

Read on (or click on the winners) for reports and reaction …

GillenMarkets London Squash Classic 2024 : Day FOUR, QUARTER-FINALS

Women’s Quarters :
[7] Siva Subramaniam (Mas) 2-0 [1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy)   11-9, 11-9 (24m)
[4] Nele Gilis (Bel) 2-1 [5] Gina Kennedy (Eng)   6-11, 11-6, 11-3 (46m)
[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 2-0 [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)  11-7, 11-2 (19m)
[2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 2-1 [8] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (Egy)   9-11, 11-8, 11-4 (41m)

Men’s Quarters :
[1] Paul Coll (Nzl) 2-1 George Parker (Eng)   8-11, 11-6, 11-3 (42m)
[4] Joel Makin (Wal) 2-1 [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Eng)   8-11, 12-10, 12-10 (64m)
[wc] Declan James (Eng) 2-0 [3] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)  11-8, 14-12 (37m)
[2] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 2-0 [7] Aly Abou Eleinen (Egy)   11-9, 11-4 (39m)

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Gilis gets revenge over Gina

[4] Nele Gilis (Bel) 2-1 [5] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 6-11, 11-6, 11-3 (46m)

Belgium’s Nele Gilis became the first player to reach the semi-finals with a comeback win over Gina Kennedy, avenging her defeat to the Englishwoman at last month’s Windy City Open.

Kennedy, backed by the home crowd, was on top in the first game, moving and retrieving well as she took a 10-5 advantage before taking the lead 11-6.

The opening stages of the second game was dominated by errors from both players, but from 4-all Gilis started to find her range while the errors kept coming from Kennedy.

Gilis forged ahead to level the match 11-6 and was dominant in the third as she wrapped up the win 11-3.

“In the last couple of months I’ve been playing with such a weight on my shoulders. Today I felt like I was the underdog and I went back to that mentality of wanting to crush anyone that is in my way. The pressure was on her, especially in front of her home crowd, so that makes it tougher.

“I needed to trust my game and my game plan. I didn’t execute it well enough in the first game, and I’m very happy I did that. I started to work my way into the match better in the second and started to find my range better, it paid off in the end.

“I wasn’t too focused on targeting her backhand, but I did know that if I was patient some errors would come. I wanted to put her under pressure in the back corners and put it in when I had the opportunity.”

Makin squeezes past Marwan

[4] Joel Makin (Wal) 2-1 [5] Marwan ElShorbagy (Eng) 8-11, 12-10, 12-10 (64m)

The first men’s match was also a meeting between the fourth and fifth seeds, and it was as close as those numbers would suggest.

Marwan ElShorbagy looking in good form as he top the opening game 11-8, but Joel Makin, fresh from victory in Edinburgh last weekend, fought back in the second and levelled the match on his second game ball 12-10,

It looked as though the Welshman had the wind in his sails as he went 6-4 ahead in the decider, but Marwan fought back well to take a 9-6 lead only for Makin to take three points in a row to level at 9-all.

The match finished on four decisions – a no let each which left both players in disbelief taking it to 10-all, then two strokes against Marwan – one harsh, the second obvious – as Makin moved into the semi-finals.

You know what you’re going to get with Marwan, the intensity was up for that and we both knew we had a chance here after a few good matches.

“That’s what I like about him, believe it or not, we’re both going at each other with a lot of respect. We just want to compete and we want the same thing, he’s a good lad who competes well and we had a good match there.”

Siva shocks top seed Sherbini

[7] Siva Subramaniam (Mas) 2-0 [1] Nour El Sherbini (Egy) 11-9, 11-9 (24m)

Wow, what an upset for Malaysia’s Siva Subramanian as she topples top seed, world #1 and world champion Nour El Sherbini in straight games!

Sherbini never quite hit the heights that she’s capable of, and Subramanian matched her throughout. In the first game they hit seven winners each, but Sherbini’s error count worked against her as from 9-all Subramaniam took it with a Sherbini tin followed by a stroke.

The Malaysia continued to hold her own in the second, three points in a row from 6-all putting her within touching distance of her biggest win to date at 9-6.

She thought she had match ball when the ref called ‘not up’ on Sherbini, but it was reversed on video appeal. Sherbini closed to 8-9 but was then denied a let on a video ref decision to give Siva two match balls.

Sherbini saved the first with a tight dropshot, but on the next ralley Sherbini’s second shot was despatched with a low kill as Subramanian completed the upset – becoming the

“I’m still pretty speechless, I didn’t really know what was happening and next thing I’m beating the World #1.

“I respect Sherbini a lot, she’s the best on tour and is really talented. To beat a player like that, I came in with my A Game today.

“I was just trying to focus on my game, rather than how she is feeling, but I took full advantage with my attacking game today and I’m happy with how I did it.”

“It’s a new day tomorrow, just want to take this in first and relax, then reset ready for tomorrow.”

Coll ends Parker run

[1] Paul Coll (Nzl) 2-1 George Parker (Eng) 8-11, 11-6, 11-3 (42m)

After the shock of Sherbini’s exit, England’s unseeded George Parker set up the prospect of another seismic shock as he took the opening game against top seed and defending champion Paul Coll, hitting three winners from 8-all to take a shock lead.

The Kiwi settled into the match after that though, and was in complete control in the next two games as he moved into a semi-final against Joel Makin.

“He slowed it down really well and cut off the volley.

“I was a bit annoyed with my hitting, I was really passive and I wasn’t getting the ball past him. I knew what I had to do, so I’m happy that I got my game going in the second and third. He’s a good friend and I’m happy to see him playing well and reaching his biggest quarter-finals.

“I’m looking forward to match with Joel. He’s had a couple of injuries, so it’s good to see him back playing injury free. You saw how tough he was out there today against Marwan, it was a real battle.

“I’d be annoyed if the crowd didn’t get behind their home guy. It’s great to see the support they’re showing for their players. It’s an amazing venue, I’m stoked that it’s full and I’m looking forward to a big semi-finals day tomorrow.”

Gohar despatches SJ to reach semis

[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 2-0 [6] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 11-7, 11-2 (19m)

In the first match of the evening session Egypt’s Nouran Gohar beat England’s Sarah-Jane Perry to reach the semi-finals.

Gohar didn’t look too confident in the early stages of the match, but at 6-5 to Perry, the English player’s racket hand was caught by Gohar’s racket, with Perry requiring treatment.

That seemed to kill any momentum that Perry had as Gohar powered through to take the lead 11-7 and raced through the second, completing the win 11-2.

“I knew SJ was going to be very dangerous. She loves playing in England and it’s completely understandable with a crowd like this! This format, she’s going to go for it and I had to be ready from the start. I wasn’t finding my length but got a good rhythm at the end.

“I have five minutes to go until I can eat! It’s never easy training during Ramandan, it’s hard on the eating and drinking pattern but also on the sleep pattern. That’s hard too because you make your day night, and your night day.

“But this is one of the months that I’m most looking forward to during the year because it’s one of the most peaceful moments of the year. I want to stick to the traditions of what I’m doing, even if I have a tournament.”

Asal ousts Abou

[2] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 2-0 [7] Aly Abou Eleinen (Egy) 11-9, 11-4 (39m)

Second Mostafa Asal is into the last four after overcoming Egyptian compatriot Aly Abou Eleinen.

An exciting fists game saw the pair go neck and neck, Eleinen aided by some uncharacteristic errors from Asal, who was nevertheless able to squeeze into the lead 11-9.

The second game was much more comfortable  for Asal as he powered ahead to take it 11-4 to reach the semis.

“Aly is one of the best players on tour. I know how tough and dangerous he is. We’ve played a lot since we were juniors. He can attack from anywhere. You see in the first game it could have gone either way. He’s a good guy on and off court and I’ve missed him since juniors, this is our first time playing professionally. He’s such a talent.

“It was a tough match, tough conditions for me but I got used to it. Having James Willstrop behind me, full credit to him. He changed my game, changed my mentality as a squash player. I was doing lots of bad stuff at the beginning, it’s just the mentality and the cultural ways. Thanks Jimbo for everything. I’m happy to play this sort of squash and am looking forward to the next one.”

Hania survives Fayrouz scare

[2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 2-1 [8] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (Egy)   9-11, 11-8, 11-4 (41m)

In the last women’s quarter-final second seed Hania El Hammamy came from a game down as she came through a stern test from 18-year-old Fayrouz Aboelkheir to reach the semis, where she will take on fierce rival Nouran Gohar.

After a bright opening from Hania, Fayrouz started firing in winners as she closed the gap and took the lead 11-9.

After an even opening to the second Hania started to wrest control, although Fayrouz stayed in touch and was just a couple of winners from getting a match ball.

No drama in the third as Hania took an early lead and never looked like relinquishing it.

“That was very tough, as I said yesterday best-of-three is so tricky and if you’re not playing well or if things are messy it makes it even harder. I think I was a bit nervous but I’m glad at the end of the day. I got the job done and found my range at the end of the third and I’m just happy I got through.

“She’s a very talented player and she’s big and she uses her movement quite smartly. I think I had to find a way through with all the challenges I was facing today. I’m glad I was able to find a way in the third and go back with some positives.”

Declan downs Gawad to make last four

[wc] Declan James (Eng) 2-0 [3] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 11-8, 14-12 (37m)

English wildcard Declan James continued his spectacular run as the 30-year-old beat Egyptian former World #1 and Karim Abdel Gawad to reach the semi-finals of a Gold-level event for the first time in his career.

The World #76, playing his first World Tour event in over a year due to a serious achilles injury, has been in great form in London, recording upset wins over Mohamed ElSherbini and  Baptiste Masotti to reach the quarters..

Today he found another level against the World #5 and one of the modern game’s greats, attacking in the first game to take an unlikely lead with 11-8 in the first.

The second was tight all the way, Gawad went game ball up at 10-9 but to the delight of the crowd, James hung on, forcing extra points..

They both had opportunities to win the game, but at 13-12 to James a ‘no let’ decision against Gawad sent the crowd into raptures and James to his knees in disbelief.

“I’m enjoying my squash, this is probably the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in. This is what our sport needs to be. What an incredible venue and incredible crowd, it’s weeks like this where our sport looks unbelievable, what a showcase.

“I’m just happy to be playing a decent standard. It’s been a long road back, a long 18 months, jeez, a lot of hard work and suffering. Nights like tonight make the suffering worth it.

“We’ve had a lot of battles over the years, I’ve taken him to five but never beaten him. He’s obviously the most skilled player of our generation, and you know when you play him it’s going to be clean squash. Some of the stuff he’s doing is unbelievable. But I’ve been close to him before and of course I’m happy to be here, but I’m not at the point of my career where I want to make up the numbers, I’m here to do some damage.

“I actually like the best of five a little more, the physicality comes into it, it’s an all-out war. Best of three is very intense, because it’s shorter the pace goes up. Tomorrow’s a different kettle of fish against a different animal altogether. I’m going to enjoy this for a couple of hours and then will focus on tomorrow.”