The El Gouna International Squash Open gets under way at the El Gouna Squash Complex today as players compete at the second PSA World Tour Platinum of 2021.
You can follow all the action from courts one and two here, where the likes of former World No1 Gregory Gaultier, Spanish veteran Borja Golan and Canadian duo Hollie Naughton and Danielle Letourneau are all in action.
You can keep up with the live scores from the event here
Schedule – Court One
(All times are local GMT+2)
11:00 Jana Shiha (EGY) v Coline Aumard (FRA)
11:45 Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) v Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA)
13:00 Alexandra Fuller (RSA) v Nadia Pfister (SUI)
13:45 Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) v Karim El Hammamy (EGY)
16:00 neta Mackevica (LAT) v Emily Whitlock (WAL)
16:45 Mazen Gamal (EGY) v Nicolas Mueller (SUI)
18:00 Mayar Hany (EGY) v Anna Serme (CZE)
18:45 Nathan Lake (ENG) v Gregory Gaultier (FRA)
Watch action from court one below
Schedule – Court Two
(All times are local GMT+2)
11:00 Menna Nasser (EGY) v Danielle Letourneau (CAN)
11:45 Leonel Cardenas (MEX) v Eain Yow Ng (MAS)
13:00 Hollie Naughton (CAN) v Hana Moataz (EGY)
13:45 Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) v [WC] Roger Baddour (EGY)
16:00 Nada Abbas (EGY) v Nicole Bunyan (CAN)
16:45 Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) v Borja Golan (ESP)
18:00 Menna Hamed (EGY) v Melissa Alves (FRA)
18:45 Declan James (ENG) v Patrick Rooney (ENG)
Watch action from court two below
Letourneau & Shiha Move into Round Two
The opening two matches of the El Gouna International Squash Open saw Canada's Danielle Letourneau and Egypt's Jana Shiha book their spots in the last 32.
For Letourneau, the World No.21 who is based in Cairo, overcame a bout of early nerves as she recovered from a 1-0 deficit to win 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 against Menna Nasser.
The 28-year-old will go up against United States No.1 Amanda Sobhy in the next round.
“In the first game, the conditions suited her game I felt more than mine,” Letourneau said afterwards.
“She was shooting and not missing a single one. It wasn't the best for me today in terms of mental status. I feel a bit homesick at the moment and at the start I feel I was a bit more nervous than I would normally be.
“I never felt comfortable on there today, but I’m happy I was able to pull through not feeling 100 per cent.”
Jana Shiha helps Coline Aumard off the floor
Meanwhile, Shiha got the better of France's Coline Aumard, winning 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 in 45 minutes.
Aumard was making her first PSA Tour appearance since September's Manchester Open after an injury troubled eight months, while Shiha has good memories of this tournament after taking eight-time World Champion Nicol David to five games back in 2019.
And it was the Egyptian player who came out on top to book her place against New Zealand's Joelle King in the next round.
“For me, fitness is important of course, but mostly your mental state is paramount,” Shiha said.
“For a year and a half, my head hasn’t been really in place between the studies, the squash and everything else!
“I won the British Junior Open in 2020, then a 10K in India, and that was it. I didn’t have a single good win after that. But now, although I know I’m still not where I would like to be in terms of physical fitness, at least I feel more comfortable mentally.
“Today it made the difference because you can get away being not that fit, but if your head is not on the court, there is nothing you can do.”
Danielle Letourneau (CAN) bt Menna Nasser (EGY) 3-1: 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 (26m)
Jana Shiha (EGY) bt Coline Aumard (FRA) 3-1: 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 (45m)
ElSherbini Battles Past Bonmalais
Egypt's Mohamed ElSherbini required 66 minutes to see off the challenge of Frenchman Sebastien Bonmalas as he completed a 12-14, 13-11, 11-7, 11-7 triumph.
The World No.33 was the heavy favourite going into the match, however he suffered a surprise opening game defeat on the tie-break to his opponent, who is ranked at No.61 in the world.
A crucial second game went the way of ElSherbini on the tie-break though, and the third and fourth games soon followed as the 28-year-old earned his spot in the last 32 where he will play two-time runner-up Karim Abdel Gawad.
“It was a very interesting match,” ElSherbini said.
“To be honest, I had no expectations coming to that match, I just wanted to get myself going. I haven’t played a match in over five weeks. My year has been a very tough one, so today I didn’t want to stressed and tried to get my shots going.
“I didn’t play just fitness squash, I wanted to play good shots, tight shots, smart squash and clean, without any need for running.
“But he had me running a lot and I didn’t expect that. I thought it was going to be much easier than that. All credit to him, he is very fast.
“I had to make sure that my ball was tight and take my space on court to finish the point.”
Eain Yow Ng
Malaysia's Eain Yow Ng was also in action and he completed a confident 3-0 win over reigning PSA Challenger Tour Player of the Year Leonel Cardenas.
The World No.27 will take on either Youssef Ibrahim or wildcard Roger Baddour in the next round.
“I’ve seen his results, he had some very good wins and he beat Nathan [Lake] twice, so that is showing he is a good player and an up-and-coming one as well,” said Eain Yow.
“I know what it is to be the young one coming up, and now I’m on the other side, so I know how to prepare, I knew that he would come in firing and he did that. But I think I maintained my composure.”
“With Hadrian Stiff in Bristol, we talked about keeping the ball very tight to the wall, getting my length and making sure I hit the back wall as I know he is very skilful. So when he would come in, I would just play a big counter, and that worked really well.”
Mohamed ElSherbini (EGY) bt Sebastien Bonmalais (FRA) 3-1: 12-14, 13-11, 11-7, 11-7 (66m)
Eain Yow Ng (MAS) bt Leonel Cardenas (MEX) 3-0: 11-6, 11-9, 11-4 (37m)
Naughton Ousts Moataz as Fuller Takes Out Pfister
Canada’s Hollie Naughton booked her place in the second round of this year’s El Gouna International after a 3-1 victory over Egypt’s Hana Moataz.
The World No.19 came up against a tenacious opponent in Moataz, with the World No.68 battling hard and drawing level in the second on the tie-break.
But Naughton was soon back on top and closed out the next two games to take the win, with a 14-12 victory in the fourth seeing her hold her nerve impressively.
Naughton will take on India’s Joshna Chinappa next.
South Africa's Alexandra Fuller enjoyed a more straightforward win in her first round fixture against Switzerland's Nadia Pfister, winning 11-2, 11-4, 11-9.
It's the first time Fuller has made it through to round two of this tournament, and she will play No.8 seed Salma Hany for a place in the last 16.
“I played Nadia a few times in 5k events a few years ago, so I knew what to expect from her game and I knew what I had to do with my game,” Fuller said.
“I rarely feel comfortable on court with my squash, only sometimes. So today it’s nice to have a bit of a confidence boost. I just wanted to get through that match first before thinking about my match tomorrow again Salma Hany.
“I played in Egypt a couple of years ago, so at least I have some experience of how intense and how well she can play. I’ll have to make sure I’m on the top of my game.
“Right now, I really want to enjoy playing. I don’t have any pressure and when I don’t have any pressure, I can play my squash and I enjoy my freedom. So I just want to enjoy every second I’m out there.”
Hollie Naughton (CAN) bt Hana Moataz (EGY) 3-1: 11-7, 12-14, 11-8, 14-12 (41m)
Alexandra Fuller (RSA) bt Nadia Pfister (SUI) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-9 (19m)
El Hammamy Halts Al Tamimi
Karim El Hammamy (right) after beating Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (left)
Egypt’s Karim El Hammamy ended a four-match losing streak against Qatar’s Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi to earn his spot in the second round.
Al Tamimi had dominated all of their previous fixtures, winning three of the four matches without dropping a game, while he won the other by a 3-2 margin.
This time around though the World No.34 was unable to get the better of a determined El Hammamy, who took the win by an 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 scoreline to reach round two here for the first time at the seventh attempt.
El Hammamy will take on compatriot Zahed Salem in the next round.
Youssef Ibrahim (left) takes on Roger Baddour (right)
A 'mature' performance from Egypt's Youssef Ibrahim sent him through to the last 32 at the expense of wildcard Roger Baddour.
At World No.30, Ibrahim is ranked 366 places above Baddour on the PSA World Rankings and he controlled the match against his 18-year-old opponent well to take the win.
Baddour hit some smart winners at the front of the court, but Ibrahim had the superior width and length of the two as he powered to an 11-6, 11-2, 11-4 victory in just 23 minutes.
“Today I had to be the mature player,” Ibrahim said.
“I remember back four years ago, I took the wildcard spot here in Gouna, and I was very excited and happy to play with the big shots.
“In the first game, every shot he was playing was short and in the nick. So I had to play a basic game and make it very simple, without complicating things. Once I found my rhythm in the second game, I started to be able to attack.
“I made sure I was lengthening the rallies whilst attacking in the right time. But Roger is a very good junior, when he plays more tournaments he is going to be very good. Turning from junior to senior is not easy, this is his first tournament, but I’m sure he is going to get better and better.”
Karim El Hammamy (EGY) bt Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi (QAT) 3-1: 11-6, 9-11, 11-4, 11-5 (46m)
Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) bt [WC] Roger Baddour (EGY) 3-0: 11-6, 11-2, 11-4 (23m)
Whitlock and Abbas Secure Round Two Spots
Wales' Emily Whitlock and Egypt's Nada Abbas are through to the second round after respective wins over Latvia's Ineta Mackevica and Canada's Nicole Bunyan.
World No.28 Whitlock secured a comfortable 11-6, 11-3, 11-9 victory over Mackevica to set up a clash with World No.7 Hania El Hammamy in the next round.
“I went 2-0 up, I was playing quite crisp and I thought to myself: 'don’t think that you are 2-0 up, don’t think it’s going to be an easy game because it’s her last chance'. She was not playing badly at all, I was preventing her from playing because she kept hovering on my left side. That court is very cold but still very fast, when you hit the wall on that silver line it’s goes very fast and it's very hard to get your racquet on it,” Whitlock said.
“Today she wanted to volley everything. She’s got such a wingspan, and she showed that she wanted to play everything, even if sometimes it would go in the tin or it wasn't the right time. She kept getting better at it, so I’m happy I’m playing her now and not in two years time when she’s got more control on the ball.
“I was hitting the ball pretty clean and I was just clinical. In that third it was her last chance and she kept returning one more shot, so I was like: 'oh God, I’ve got to do something about it'.
“The court was not slippery, but you could sort of feel the sand on your shoes. It just felt a bit unusual to what I’m used to. So the court conditions were fine.
“When I heard the ref say 9-9, I I told myself to come on. I played the last two shots at the right time and got myself together again.”
Nada Abbas (fore) takes on Nicole Bunyan (right)
Abbas, meanwhile, will take on either Melissa Alves or Menna Hamed for a place in the next round after vanquishing Bunyan by an 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 margin in 26 minutes.
“I haven’t been at my best for the last couple of months, so my goal in this tournament was to enjoy, play my squash and try to go back to where I’ve been,” said Abbas.
“I'm looking forward to my match between the winner of Melissa and Mena, There is still no pressure on me, I'm really happy to be here and to be playing well again. I’m really happy to win this match because I never do well in El Gouna, it’s my first win ever here, and that’s a good start.”
Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Ineta Mackevica (LAT) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-9 (27m)
Nada Abbas (EGY) bt Nicole Bunyan (CAN) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (26m)
Golan Injured as Steinmann Joins Countryman Mueller in Last 32
Borja Golan assesses the damage
A leg injury sustained by Spanish veteran Borja Golan brought his first round encounter with Switzerland's Dimitri Steinmann to a premature end.
The opening game of their match was a highly-competitive one as some lengthy rallies entertained viewers, with World No.58 Steinmann winning 13-11 on the tie-break.
Golan had the better of the second as he took control, but at 8-4 up the 38-year-old looked to be in real pain as he crumpled to the floor after chasing down a shot from his opponent.
An injury break then followed and, despite returning to court to play out a few rallies, Golan was forced to shake hands, giving Steinmann a win which sees him reach the second round of a PSA Platinum event for the first time.
Steinmann's compatriot – World No.29 Nicolas Mueller – is no stranger to reaching the second round of major PSA events and he beat Egypt's Mazen Gamal on day one in El Gouna.
The 'Swiss Rocket' closed out a 13-11, 11-6, 14-12 win over Gamal to ensure he will face Egypt's Mazen Hesham in round two.
“I’m lucky to get away 3-0 cause the score line has got two tie-breaks in the first and last game,” said Mueller.
“I never felt comfortable out there today. I was struggling to get my length, then I was attacking from stupid positions. He punished me, when you are trying to play boast from the front 17 times and you lose it 16 times out of 17, you've eventually got to learn.
“It's nice we got the chance to play here. Hopefully I’ll be ready for the next match, I’m playing Mazen. I played him in Egypt two or three years ago in Egypt, he beat me 3-1, I think.
“I like his game, so it’s going good fun. I've just got to make sure I can play my game, I am feeling very good at the moment, so I’ve got to make sure I play to the best of my abilities. I’m feeling confident, so I'm looking forward to it.”
Steinmann, meanwhile, will go up against either Declan James or Patrick Rooney.
Dimitri Steinmann (SUI) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-0: 13-11, 8-9 retired (35m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Mazen Gamal (EGY) 3-0: 13-11, 11-6, 14-12 (46m)
Hamed and Hany Both Through in Five
Menna Hamed (left) takes on Melissa Alves (right)
Egyptian duo Menna Hamed and Mayar Hany both secured wins in the final women's matches of the day, with both players being pushed all the way to five games.
Hamed, the World No.52, completed an 9-11, 11-6, 13-11, 6-11, 11-6 victory over France's Melissa Alves in 53 minutes to set up a second round meeting with compatriot Nada Abbas and capture her first win at a PSA Platinum event in the process.
“I’m 23, so I’m very happy to finally get my win [at a Platinum tournament],” said Hamed.
“The last two I played, I lost 3-0 in both. Today I took it point by point. I keep losing in these big tournaments, so I didn’t put any kind of pressure on myself.
“I couldn’t play the last Black Ball [Open] because I got tested positive two days before the event, so I’m happy to be healthy this time around and that I’m able to play.”
Next round, Nada Abbas, we played a few years ago, she won, but that was long time ago. And tomorrow, I again have nothing to lose…
Mayar Hany (fore) in action against Anna Serme
Hany's reward will be a second round clash with No.5 seed Sarah-Jane Perry after she overcame Czech Republic's Anna Serme in a quick-fire 11-7, 1-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 win that only lasted 36 minutes.
“I had COVID three weeks ago and I was in bed for a week, so I had very little time to get prepared for the tournament,” Hany revealed.
“To add to that, Anna played really well, I was not expecting her to play that well and she gave me such a hard time on court. Today I was giving it 100 per cent despite having no expectation.
“ I was up and able to fight for one game, then I had to rest and recover for the next one, and again the next. I was lucky that the fifth game was a game I was not resting.
“I was doing what I could, and I’m just lucky it went my way.”
Mayar Hany (EGY) bt Anna Serme (CZE) 3-2: 11-7, 1-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-6 (36m)
Menna Hamed (EGY) bt Melissa Alves (FRA) 3-2: 9-11, 11-6, 13-11, 6-11, 11-6 (53m)
Gaultier & Rooney See Out Day With Wins
Gregory Gaultier (fore) takes on Nathan Lake
French veteran Gregory Gaultier battled to a 3-1 victory over World No.44 Nathan Lake to get his tournament off to a winning start.
Gaultier, the 2017 El Gouna champion, is making his first appearance at this tournament for three years due to a combination of injury problems and the COVID-19 pandemic – which resulted in the cancellation of last year’s event – and he looked to be making up for lost time as the 38-year-old charged into a one-game lead.
Englishman Lake rallied to take the second game, but the guile and determination of his more experienced opponent shone through as Gaultier closed it out by an 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6 margin to book his spot in the last 32, where he will take on the in-form Fares Dessouky.
“It felt a bit weird not to be able to do much for the past two days,” Gaultier said.
“I got to play a bit at 10pm last night, but it was not enough for me, I feel. I have been training very well, but at the start of the match I felt a bit flat. Still, he is a very strong and talented player, very good with the racket and he is a fair player.
“I enjoyed my match with him and now I’m playing Fares in the next round.”
Patrick Rooney (right) and Declan James (left)
One of the biggest upsets in the men’s draw saw World No.49 Patrick Rooney defeat fellow Englishman Declan James in the final match of the day.
Despite meeting in England Squash sanctioned events, the pair had never played on the PSA Tour, and it was 23-year-old Rooney who showed his credentials as one to watch with an impressive 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9 victory.
He will play Switzerland’s Dimitri Steinmann for a place in the last 16.
Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt Nathan Lake (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 7-11, 11-8, 11-6 (44m)
Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-1: 11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9 (54m)