Day Three : Round Two concludes

James and Perry join six Egyptians in the quarters

The inaugural London Squash Classic continued today with eight more Round Two matches on the Glass Court at Alexandra Palace.

All the women’s matches finished 2-0 to the seeded players as Egyptian trio Nouran Gohar, Hania El Hammamy and Fayrouz Aboelkheir were joined in the last eight by England’s Sarah-Jane Perry.

There were three Egyptian winners in the men’s matches too, with Mostafa Asal, Aly Abou Eleinen and Karim Abdel Gawad joined by English wildcard Declan James who ousted France’s Baptista Masotti in the only upset of the day.

Read on for match reports and reaction …

GillenMarkets London Squash Classic 2024 : Day THREE, Round TWO (bottom)

Women’s Round Two :
[6] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 2-0 [wc] Alicia Mead (Eng) 11-9, 11-5 (17m)
[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Hollie Naughton (Can) 11-4, 11-8 (22m)
[8] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Emily Whitlock (Wal) 15-13, 12-10 (30m)
[2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Satomi Watanabe (Jpn) 11-5, 11-3 (24m)

Men’s Round Two :
[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Eain Yow Ng (Mas) 15-13, 11-9 (33m)
[wc] Declan James (Eng) 2-1 [6] Baptiste Masotti (Fra) 9-11, 11-7, 11-5 (37m)
[7] Aly Abou Eleinen (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Nathan Lake (Eng) 11-6, 11-5 (26m)
[2] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 2-0 Nick Wall (Eng) 11-6, 11-9 (28m)

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SJ ends wildcard Alicia’s run

[6] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 2-0 [wc] Alicia Mead (Eng) 11-9, 11-5 (17m)

In the opening match of the day Sarah-Jane Perry overcame England compatriot Alicia Mead to reach the last eight. Mead, the wildcard who is playing in her first Gold-level event, looked confident early on, but once Perry settled in she took control, running out the 11-9, 11-5 winner.

“I’m really pleased to get through in two games. Alicia came out firing and I found my targets a bit more in the second. I play my best when I’m enjoying it and playing free squash.

“Players who like to attack and play their shots tend to have a bit of an advantage in best of three. My team all say ‘best of three, that’s great for you!’ and I actually need to remember that and play them instead of being passive. That’s why I don’t mind a couple of errors, I want to be that aggressive attacking player. We’re not here to play for two hours, we’re here to get a win.”

Declan downs Masotti

[wc] Declan James (Eng) 2-1 [6] Baptiste Masotti (Fra) 9-11, 11-7, 11-5 (37m)

There was wildcard succes in the first men’s match of the day as   Declan James upset the odds once again, coming from a game down to beat French sixth seed Baptiste Masotti.

In an even first game Masotti was able to edge in front, taking the lead 11-9. James, who is playing his first World Tour event in over a year after an achilles injury, came back spectacularly in the second, pulling clear at the end of the game to level 11-7.

The Englishman carried thar momentum into the third, hitting winners as Masotti made errors and racing to a 10-2 lead. Masotti managed to pull a few points back, James was able to hold out, finding the nick to bring a gripping contest to a close.

“I’m delighted to stay composed. What a venue, what a crowd! These are the moments that you train for. I was so grateful to get through the first round and have an opportunity to play here,” James said afterwards.

“The intensity against these top 20 guys is a pressure cooker. Baptiste is a class act, we’ve played a lot through juniors and on the tour and the way he’s gone up into the top 20 is mega impressive. I’m happy to be hanging onto these guys’ coattails!”

Gohar eases past Naughton

[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Hollie Naughton (Can) 11-4, 11-8 (22m)

Third seeded Egyptian Nouran Gohar will take on England’s Sarah-Jane Perry in the quarter-finals after overpowering Canada’s Hollie Naughton in two games.

Gohar looked strong in the opening exchanges and dominated the first game, taking the lead 11-4. Naughton caused more problems for the Egyptian in the second game, staying on level terms up to 8-all before Gohar took the final three points to seal the win.

“It’s a very tricky format in general, you can’t afford to be 0-1 down because it’s half the match already.

“Hollie’s a very tricky player and I had to be on my toes and I knew she would be fired up. Always tricky to play someone like that. “I felt I lost some of my accuracy in the second game. It’s warm today as well, the ball is bouncy so there were times I thought I’d hit a winner only for her to pick it up.”

“SJ is one of the first players I played against on Tour, about 14 years ago. She’s one of the most skilful players and I really enjoy playing against her because it’s always fair and I’m looking forward to a good match tomorrow.”

Gawad edges past Ng

[3] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Eain Yow Ng (Mas) 15-13, 11-9 (33m)

Third seed Karim abdel Gawad won through to the quarters, but was given a real test by Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng.

Ng moved ahead after an even opening to the first game, earning four game balls, but Gawad responded and eventually took the lead 15-13.

The second was equally close, with Gawad taking an early lead but Ng recovering to level at 9-all before Gawad took the final two points to clinch the win.

“Under pressure I can play better, I can focus much better. Every time you come back to a best of three event you’re still under pressure, even if you’re very experienced. I’m glad I handled it really well and I’m pushing to the end.

“I’m very happy for Declan. We’ve missed him a lot, he’s one of the best personalities on tour and he’s very clean on and off court and I’m very happy to see him back. We’ve had a few tough battles and I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”

Fayrouz edges past Emily

[8] Fayrouz Aboelkheir (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Emily Whitlock (Wal) 15-13, 12-10 (30m)

Egypt’s Fayrouz Aboelkheir – the eighth seed and reigning British Junior Open champion – edged past Wales’ Emily Whitlock in two games that were both decided on extra points.

There was little to separate the pair in the first game, and both had game balls with the Egyptian clinching it 15-13.

Aboelkheir was ahead in the early stages of the second, going 6-2 up only for Whitlock to take a run of points to lead 9-6. She earned a game ball after Aboelkheir had levelled at 9-all, but the Egyptian saved that and took the next two points to squeeze into the quarter-finals.

“I didn’t play my best squash today but am happy I managed to win it. Emily is a very good player and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy – I went from 6-2 up to 6-9 down.

“Having Nour El Sherbini on my side is a huge advantage, thank you for your coaching today.”

“Confidence comes with playing a lot of matches. I’ve been playing on tour for three years so I have some experience, even if I’m not as experienced as some of the other players.”

Asal advances over Wall

[2] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 2-0 Nick Wall (Eng) 11-6, 11-9 (28m)

Second seed Mostafa Asal moved through to the quarters with a two game win over England’s Nick Wall.

The Egyptian powered through the first game, taking the lead 11-6, and although Wall kept pace in the second, from 8-all Asal again finished the better to take the game 11-9 in just under half an hour.

“It’s great to see it full here, hanks to everyone who put the effort in to make this event so big, and thanks to everyone who’s been watching since the early morning. I hope it’s going to be a great week and Happy Easter everyone!

“I don’t know how I played some of those shots I did, it’s a glass court so I needed to do some breakdancing but I was super lucky!”

Immaculate Hammamy powers past Watanabe

[2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Satomi Watanabe (Jpn) 11-5, 11-3 (24m)

A superb performance from second seed Hania El Hammamy saw her bear Optasia champion Satomi Watanabe in straight games to reach the quarters, where she’ll face fellow Egyptian Fayrouz Aboelkheir.

Fine shotmaking and great movement from El Hammamy proved too much for Watanabe who, hampered by a few errors early in the first game, just couldn’t get a foothold in the match as Hammamy powered through from 3-all in the first, then was simply unstoppable in the second.

“I was fighting really hard from the first to last point. The format is very tricky and we need to be on our toes and fired up from the first point.

“Playing Satomi is even harder in a best of three, she just came off a big win at the Optasia last week and must be very confident coming into today’s match and I’m glad I came through in two.

“I tried to have good tactics but she’s such an attacking player and I had to get my length and everything connected today.”

“I’m very fortunate to have Laura Massaro with me today and having her in my corner and hearing her advice.”

Eleinen completes the quarters lineup

[7] Aly Abou Eleinen (Egy) 2-0 [9/16] Nathan Lake (Eng) 11-6, 11-5 (26m)

In the final match of the day, Egyptian seventh seed Aly Abou Eleinen completed the quarter-final lineups with a dominant performance against an out-of-sorts Nathan Lake.

Despite going into the match with a winning head-to-head record over the Egyptian, Lake could never get fully into the match, the end coming quickly as Eleinen powered through the second half of each game.

“I’m super happy with that performance. Nathan is the guy I’ve played most on the Tour, the last time we played he double bagelled me at the British Open, I had a bit of a stomach issue and he had no mercy!

“I knew he was going to be tough, you can’t mess around in best of three. I tried to keep things simple, keep my length. When you play a leftie you try to use that backhand side. I discussed my plan with my coaches back in Egypt and I’ve got my mental coach Jesse Engelbrecht and it’s amazing having him by my side this week.

“For this week, we’re playing in such. Unique venue with so many people here to watch, he’s told me to be calm and not get ahead of myself and just take it one point at a time.”