Monday, August 3, 2009

Shorbagy still the Champ, Sherbini is the youngest ever

[1] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [2] Ivan Yuen (Mas) 11/9, 12/10, 11/2 (36m)

Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt [4] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) 5/11, 11/7, 11/6, 11/5 (31m)

Shorbagy still the Champ

Mohamed El Shorbagy is still the world junior champion. The Egyptian world #17 beat Ivan Yuen in straight games, fending off a strong challenge from the Malaysian second seed before storming through the third game to retain the title he won in Zurich last year.

Sherbini is the youngest ever

An Egyptian double was guaranteed with an all-Egypt girls' final, and history was made when Nour El Sherbini came from a game down to beat compatriot Nour El Tayeb, becoming the youngest junior girls' world champion, beating Nicol's record by well over two years ..

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Three Egyptians in the finals ...

[1] Mohamed El Shorbagy (EGY) bt [4] Andrew Wagih Shoukry (EGY)
11-7, 11-9, 11-6 (37m)
[2] Ivan Yuen (MAS) bt [17/32] Aurangzeb Mehmund (PAK)
11-6, 11-9, 11-3 (28m)

[4] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt [1] Dipika Pallikal (IND)
11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7 (33m)
[9/16] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt [8] Maria Toor Pakay (PAK)
11-8, 11-6, 11-6 (20m)

El Tayeb Topples Pallikal
Howard Harding reports

Dipika Pallikal's bid to become the host nation's first ever world squash champion ended in disappointment in the semi-finals when the top seed tumbled out in four games to fourth seed Nour El Tayeb.

El Tayeb, a 16-year-old from Alexandria ranked 60 in the world rankings, took the first game before 17-year-old Pallikal - 12 positions higher in the world list - drew level.

But the fourth-seeded underdog fought back to take the next two games to record a stunning 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-7 victory in 33 minutes.

"I was trying to keep the ball off her forehand - she’s so strong there, she can kill the ball at will," said El Tayeb. "My coach devised a plan for the match and I stuck to it as much as I could.

"I’ve spent the last six months thinking of this semi-final, but on the bus on the way here I didn’t believe I could win it. I didn’t think about winning until I got to match ball. I remember Heba being so far ahead yesterday and not winning.

"I don’t know how I feel now, to beat Dipika, here in India, it’s such a feeling. I’m in the world final!"

In only the second all-Egyptian final in the event's history, Nour El Tayeb will face compatriot Nour El Sherbini, a 9/16 seed who continued her giant-killing charge through the event with an 11-8, 11-6, 11-6 defeat of Pakistan's No8 seed Maria Toor Pakay in just 20 minutes.

"I didn’t feel any pressure going into this match, even though it was quite different from yesterday’s. I was just trying to keep the ball tight to the back, and put in dropshots when it was loose, and I think I played to that plan well," explained the 13-year-old from Alexandria.

"I’ve played Nour a few times already, and won most of them, but tomorrow will be different. It’s a final and we’ll both be trying our best to win."

Egyptian Mohamed El Shorbagy is now one win away from becoming only the second player in history to successfully defend the men's title after beating fellow countryman Andrew Wagih Shoukry, the fourth seed, 11-7, 11-9, 11-6.

"I played very well today," admitted the 18-year-old from Alexandria. "In all the matches so far I’ve been playing the player and the pressure - and haven’t been able to cope with both at the same time.

"Today I played the pressure and the player and beat both of them. My concentration didn’t drop at all, except for a short spell at 6-3 in the second - but you can’t expect to keep full concentration for a whole match, one small lapse is acceptable.

"I was really nervous before the match, but I talked to my mum and she made me so relaxed - she’s amazing."

The favourite, ranked 17 in the PSA world list, will now face Malaysia's Ivan Yuen, the No2 seed who beat Pakistan outsider Aurangzeb Mehmund 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 in just 28 minutes.

"I feel I’m playing pretty well," said Yuen, who has only dropped one game throughout the tournament. "I hadn’t played him before, so I had to just try to keep it steady and see what happened. I’m so very glad I played well here, it was a nice feeling when he stopped in the middle of the third.

"I’ve been thinking about this final for a while, so it’s nice to actually get there. I hope I play as well tomorrow and we have a good final," added the 18-year-old from Selangor.

The pair met at the quarter-final stage last year - and in the British Junior Open final earlier this year - El Shorbagy prevailing in both. "I’ve watched Ivan playing this week, he’s playing very well," admitted the favourite. "It should be a harder match than the British, and that was pretty difficult!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sherbini & Aurangzeb gatecrash the semis

After two days of two rounds it was back to sanity with the quarter-finals today, with a definite Egyptian flavour to them - six girls and three boys gave Egypt over 50% of today's competitors, underlining their recent dominance at junior and senior level.

If Dipika Pallikal is to win India's first-ever world squash title the chances are she'll have to beat four Egyptians in a row to do it, and if Mohamed El Shorbagy is to retain the boys' title there's a good chance he will have to beat players of different nationalities in each of his five matches ... the luck of the draw!

In the event both top seeds came through with only minor scares - both dropping a game - but the story of the day has to be the performances of unseeded (or seeded so low it doesn't really count) Nour El Sherbini and Aurangzeb Mehmund.

Sherbini's recent form suggested at the very least a close match with compatriot Heba El Torky, the second seed, and so it proved. At 2-1 and 9-4 the game looked up for Sherbiny, but she staged a stirring comeback to reach the semi-finals at just 13 years of age.

Mehmund's story is equally remarkable. Having despatched the fifth seed in a marathon five-setter yesterday, he repeated the performance, prevailing over Lucas Serme in the longest match of the tournament.

Another special mention goes to Maria Toor Pakay, who becomes Pakistan's first ever girls' semi-finalist (she was probably the first quarter-finalist too).

The other semi-finalists are Ivan Yuen, Nour El Tayeb, and Andrew Wagih. As the saying goes ... read all about it (on the main site)


[1] Dipika Pallikal (Ind) bt [5] Nouran El Torky (Egy) 11/6, 4/11, 11/8, 11/6 (37m)
[4] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) bt [9/16] Salma Hany (Egy) 11/7, 11/6, 11/1 (21m)
[8] Maria Toor Pakay (Pak) bt [9/16] Kanzy El Defrawy (Egy) 6/11, 11/4, 11/9, 8/11, 11/8 (47m)
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt [2] Heba El Torky (Egy) 11/8, 8/11, 11/9, 11/13, 11/8 (61m)

[1] Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egy) bt [9/16] Raphael Kandra (Ger)11/7, 7/11, 11/9, 11/8 (44m)
[4] Andrew Wagih (Egy) v [8] Farhan Zaman (Pak)11/8, 11/7, 11/8 (25m)
Aurangzeb Mehmund (Pak) bt [9/16] Lucas Serme (Fra) 8/11, 11/9, 7/11, 11/8, 11/8 (93m)
[2] Ivan Yuen (Mas) bt [6] Amr Khaled Khalifa (Egy) 11/3, 11/8, 11/7 (39m)