Day FOUR : Quarter-Final lineups decided

Day Four of the British Open will saw the quarter-finalists in the bottom half of the draws decided at The Rep Theatre, as Malaysia’s Eain Yow Ng pulled off a big upset to oust fifth seed Karim Abdel Gawad

Check out today’s reports and reaction below the results …

British Open 2024 : Wed 5th Jun, Day FOUR, Round THREE (bottom)

Women’s Round Three (bottom) :
[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 Tomato Ho (Hkg)   11-2, 11-3, 11-1 (22m)
[7] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [9/16] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)   11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (29m)
[6] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-1 Fayrouz Aboelkheir (Egy)   11-8, 11-4, 12-14, 11-6 (49m)
[2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Nada Abbas (Egy)   11-9, 11-1, 11-8 (38m)

Men’s Round Three (bottom) :
[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Marwan ElShorbagy (Eng)   11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (40m)
[9/16] Eain Yow Ng (Mas) 3-2 [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy)   6-11, 3-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7 (75m)
Timothy Brownell (Usa) w/o [7] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng)   Mo w/d illness
[2] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Miguel Rodriguez (Col)   12-10, 11-5, 11-2 (39m)


Reports and Reaction

Asal eases into the Quarter-Finals

[4] Mostafa Asal (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Marwan ElShorbagy (Eng) 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 (40m)

World No.4 Mostafa Asal looked in commanding form as he closed out day four of action at the British Open with a straight games victory over England’s Marwan ElShorbagy.

Despite missing out on last year’s British Open while serving a six-week suspension from the tour, Asal looked at home on the all-glass court in Birmingham as he sealed an 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 victory in impressive fashion.

After an even start to proceedings, which saw both players trade points to 4-4, ElShorbagy began to lose his accuracy as the first progressed, hitting too often onto Asal’s volley and paying the price.

‘The Raging Bull’ took the opener after 13 minutes and only got stronger as the match progressed, balancing some patient squash with destructive hitting whenever a loose ball popped out in the middle of the court.

After doubling his lead shortly afterwards, Asal continued his ascendancy until the close of the match, wrapping up the victory after exactly 40 minutes on court.

“It’s my first time here in the theatre, it’s a very different vibe, lots of seats, so I’m very pleased to be playing in the British Open here,” Asal said after the match.

“I’m enjoying my squash again, thank you to this man [James Willstrop]. He’s a complete legend and I’m really pleased with him as my coach right now. I was having a good tour in Egypt recently, winning Black Ball and getting to the finaslof a Platinum event and the World Championships. So to be here again is something really special to me.”

Gina stops Fayrouz comeback to reach quarters

[6] Gina Kennedy (Eng) 3-1 Fayrouz Aboelkheir (Egy) 11-8, 11-4, 12-14, 11-6 (49m)

England No.1 Georgina Kennedy progressed to her second consecutive British Open quarter-final after defeating rising star Fayrouz Aboelkheir in a hard-fought four-game encounter.

Playing in front of her home crowd, Kennedy came out of the blocks quickly, racing into a 5-1 lead and not letting her opponent gain parity at any point throughout the opening game. The World No.5 moved into a 1-0 lead after nine minutes on the clock.

Kennedy continued to push up the ’T’ as the second progressed, not allowing Aboelkheir to utilise her array of attacking weapons in the mid-court. The Englishwoman clinically punished any loose shots from the teenager to take a two-game lead in just under 20 minutes.

Kennedy, who arrived in Birmingham on the back of winning the Manchester Open title last week, looked on course for a straight games victory at 10-6 up in the third, but Aboelkheir refused to go down without a fight, saving five match balls, before taking the subsequent tie-break to force a fourth game. In the latter stages, Aboelkheir found particular joy in the front left corner, with Kennedy struggling to read her deceptive backhand drop.

The disjointed nature of the match continued despite Kennedy’s request for a new ball, but the No.6 seeds experience began to tell, with Aboelkheir offering a couple of errors to fall 8-2 behind. Despite another brief resurgence from her opponent, Kennedy finally took victory on her sixth match ball, setting up a tie against World No.2 against Nouran Gohar.

 “Let’s go through it really slowly, so I don’t have to go through it with my coach, who is shaking his head at me! I felt like I was very clear with my game plan today, executing it very well, but then credit to Fayrouz, she’s really dangerous, and she started attacking in the third.

“I got a lead and then she got me edgy. I tried to start winning the point too early, and again in the fourth, I needed a bit of a kick in between games. It was really difficult against Fayrouz; she covers that middle really well. You kind of doubt what shot to play because she edges across a little and then back, so it was difficult. It was a good match for me, kept me sharp and will hopefully get me ready for the quarter-finals.

“I absolutely love playing in Birmingham. It’s so good to play in front of a home crowd, and I obviously have amazing memories here because of the Commonwealth Games. I’m just really grateful that I get to play another match here.”

World Champ Gohar storms into Quarters

[3] Nouran Gohar (Egy) 3-0 Tomato Ho (Hkg) 11-2, 11-3, 11-1 (22m)

World No.2 Nouran Gohar continued her quest for a second British Open title after despatching Hong Kong No.1 Tomato Ho in straight games.

‘The Terminator’ was at her ruthless best throughout the 22-minute encounter, advancing to the quarter-finals by an 11-2, 11-3, 11-1 scoreline.

Right from the first point, Gohar’s game plan was clear, hitting the ball on the volley with aggression and pushing her opponent deep into the back two corners with a superb length. World No.29 Ho struggled to read Gohar’s backhand in particular, a shot which the World Champion has recently added smart variety to, with the Egyptian driving, lifting and going in short at exactly the right moments.

After racing into a two-game lead, Gohar almost sealed the match in perfect style, progressing into a 10-0 lead, but Ho managed to save one match ball before the match was brought to its conclusion.

Gohar will now play one of Georgina Kennedy or Fayrouz Aboelkheir for a spot in the semi-finals of the PSA World Tour Platinum event.

After sealing victory, and speaking on the 30 minute delay to her match due to the withdrawal of Mohamed ElShorbagy, she said:

“I’m lucky it was only a half-an-hour delay. I’m lucky I’m playing the first match of the evening session because back home in Egypt you can be playing outside on court at 1am. I think three or four years ago I wouldn’t have taken it very lightly, but now it’s fine.

“I think if I find my length, it is one of the strongest parts of my game, so obviously, that is what I am looking for at the beginning of the tournament. Hopefully, it will keep getting better as the event goes on, because if I lose it out there, I’m in trouble.

On her lack of a coach in Birmingham this week, she added: “I played a whole year during COVID without a coach, so I’m kind of used to it as well, and that was when I actually reached World No.1. I obviously talked to my coach before every round, and we make our plans, and then I just try to use my brain.”

Coll accelerates past Rodriguez in battle of former champions

[2] Paul Coll (Nzl) 3-0 [9/16] Miguel Rodriguez (Col) 12-10, 11-5, 11-2 (39m)

World No.2 Paul Coll held strong to negate the attacking threats of Miguel Rodriguez and triumph in a highly entertaining three-game clash at The Rep Theatre.

Right from the get-go, 2018 British Open champion Rodriguez took the match to Coll, unsettling the movement patterns of the New Zealander with some unpredictable shot-making to all areas of the court.

The pair moved to a first-game tie-break, but it was the consistent lines and lengths of Coll that proved pivotal in these moments, with the two-time winner of the event taking the opening game 12-10.

The second game followed in a similar pattern, with the ‘Colombian Cannonball’ firing in a number of high-class winners, but Coll remaining composed amid the barrage of attacks. The 32-year-old got his nose ahead early and never let Rodriguez draw parity, doubling his advantage in the match.

The early efforts from Rodriguez, 38,  began to show early in the third, with Coll capitalising on a couple of untidy errors to breeze into an 8-1 lead. From there, the tournament No.2 seed progressed to match ball, sealing victory by a 12-10, 11-5, 11-2 scoreline after 39 minutes of squash.

 “I love to watch Miguel play squash, not so much playing him. He’s always basically not where I expect him to be, he loves those quick exchanges, but I basically just had to keep my accuracy. He plays his brand of squash, and it’s sometimes quite hard to play because you lose where he is and he’s doing a 360 or something. I just had to keep my focus, especially in the first, and I think I did that.

“Overall, I’m very happy with my performance, getting through 3-0 against Miguel, he’s a great player. I was actually very happy with my squash, where I was putting the ball, and the opportunities that I was creating. I thought I could have put the ball away a little bit better, because I had a tonne of opportunities, but Miguel always puts doubt in your mind about where he is.”

Former champ Hammamy through to quarters in three

[2] Hania El Hammamy (Egy) 3-0 [9/16] Nada Abbas (Egy) 11-9, 11-1, 11-8 (38m)

World No.3 Hania El Hammamy shook off a shaky start to eventually ease her way past Egyptian compatriot Nada Abbas in straight games.

El Hammamy, the 2022 British Open champion, survived a nervy opening game, that included five-straight unforced errors when well-placed at 7-4 up, to eventually seal victory by an 11-9, 11-1, 11-8 scoreline in 38 minutes.

Despite offering Abbas the opening game lifeline after taking a nasty-looking fall in the middle of the court, El Hammamy managed to regain her composure to reel off four consecutive points and take a one-game lead, before moving through the gears in a one-sided second.

Some dominant squash down both wings saw El Hammamy surge through a five-minute second game, before the 23-year-old moved away at the key moments of the third game to ensure her faultless progress at the 2024 British Open continued.

“I’m pretty much happy with everything today, I think in the first game I was a little bit worried after having a fall, but after the first I didn’t worry about it anymore.

“It was fun and it is a great atmosphere and venue here. I’m just happy to get through.

On the impact of her coach Laura Massaro, she added: “I think there is so much to learn from someone like Laura, I’ve played against twice as well before she retired, and now it’s great to have her in my corner and hear her thoughts about things both on and off the court. She’s an idol and it’s a pleasure to be working with her.”

[9/16] Eain Yow Ng (Mas) 3-2 [5] Karim Abdel Gawad (Egy) 6-11, 3-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7 (75m)

Ng comeback stuns Gawad

World No.15 Eain Yow Ng produced a remarkable comeback to come from 2-0 down to defeat former World Champion Karim Abdel Gawad and reach his first British Open quarter-final.

In typical Gawad fashion, the Egyptian took his time to work himself into the encounter at The Rep Theatre, trailing 6-3 in the first, but subsequently winning eight consecutive points to take the opening game.

‘The Baby-Face Assasin’ only moved from strength to strength in the second, hitting a string of scintillating winners to which Eain Yow had little reply to, displaying the quality that has seen him win three titles on the PSA World Tour this season.

Despite Gawad doubling his advantage in the match though, the Malaysian No.1 refused to go down without a fight, injecting more physicality into the encounter and hitting his targets well at the back of the court. With Gawad’s attacking options limited in the central areas of the court, Eain Yow continued to move into the ascendency, reducing the deficit to 2-1 when a no-let decision was awarded in his favour.

The two players traded points early in the fourth to 6-6, but Gawad began to put some work into the legs of his opponent with a string of impressive rallies. The Malaysian was forced into some increasingly tough court coverage, but held strong by narrowing his margins and firing the ball in short at the smallest window of opportunity. After heading to a fourth game tie-break, it was the World No.15 who levelled the match at two games apiece.

Eain Yow continued to attack to the front whenever possible early in the fifth, moving into an early lead and never letting Gawad draw back level. The 26-year-old hit back-wall nick to move three match balls up, and capped off the stunning comeback at the first time of asking, sealing victory after 75 minutes of thrilling squash.

After the match, Eain Yow said: “Obviously, it feels amazing. I think it has been three years since I reached the quarter-finals of a Platinum event, so it has been a while coming. I have had some missed opportunities over the years, so today was really all about enjoying the crowd and the theatre.

“It’s one of the best tournaments and one of the best crowds. We’ve had such a good turnout every day and I think that helped a lot at 2-0 down. My dad, my coach and my team are all here, so it’s amazing.

“To be honest, I feel that neither of us played our best squash today. At 2-0 down, I was just kicking myself and saying that I couldn’t go down like this in that way. There have been matches this season where I have let the match go when at 2-0 down. I was just telling myself that it is probably my last match of the season and to keep on fighting and fighting all the way to the end.”

Tinne breezes past SJ

[7] Tinne Gilis (Bel) 3-0 [9/16] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (29m)

World No.8 Tinne Gilis opened up proceedings on day four of the British Open with an impressive straight games victory over local favourite Sarah-Jane Perry.

Gilis, who defeated the Englishwoman in three games at the World Championships last month, executed her game plan to great effect throughout the 29-minute minute encounter, taking the volley away from her opponent and hitting the ball fast and low across the all-glass court at The Rep Theatre.

After taking the opening game 11-5, Gilis continued to stretch her lead early in the second, moving into an 8-4 lead and punishing any inaccuracy from Perry. The World No.18 threw everything in her armoury at Gilis, but the Belgian continued to defend well, neutralising the threats with some smart height on the front wall.

The No.7 seed doubled her advantage in the match and moved through the third game in methodical style, stretching the court for Perry and utilising her trademark backhand drop to keep her opponent on her toes.

Gills moved to match ball at 10-4 up and didn’t need asking twice, sealing her spot in the quarter-finals of the British Open for the second time.

 “It’s always tough against SJ, I never know where the ball is going to go, so I had to be on my toes from the start. I played well today, it was a clean and fair match. Those are the matches I enjoy playing. It was extra hard because I was playing in front of her fans, but luckily I have got a little corner, and Greg [Gaultier] is here, so that is always a comfortable feeling.

“I think this is the first time I have ever played on this court, so it was a little bit tricky for me, I had a ten-minute hit on it yesterday, so I had to see how hard to hit the ball etc, so it was a little bit of a struggle at the beginning.”

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