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Marwan ElShorbagy features on day three of the Qatar Classic

Qatar Classic Day Three: PLAYER REACTION

The third round of the Qatar QTerminals Classic gets under way today with four thrilling matches in store at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex.

We’ll be bringing you reports and reaction from each match right here. Peru’s Diego Elias and Frenchman Gregoire Marche are first on at 15:00 (GMT+3) before Welshman Joel Makin and England’s Patrick Rooney meet in a mouthwatering clash 45 minutes later.

Next up is Youssef Ibrahim, who dumped out top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy yesterday. He will look to continue his event against another fellow Egyptian in Mazen Hesham.

Germany’s Raphael Kandra and ElShorbagy’s younger brother, Marwan, bring play to an end at 17:15.

You can watch all the action LIVE on SQUASHTV.

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You can also keep up with the live scores from the event here.

All times local (GMT+3)

Elias Comes Back from Brink to Beat Marche

Diego Elias (left) takes on Gregoire Marche (right)

Peruvian World No.8 Diego Elias came back from two games down to avoid a third round exit at the hands of Frenchman Gregoire Marche.

It’s the second time in as many days that Elias has been on the right end of a 3-2 victory, with his round two fixture against England’s Declan James seeing him overturn a 2-1 deficit.

The peril was even more evident in his clash with Marche as Elias was all at sea in the first two games. Marche rattled off a number of winners and Elias’s usual fluid movement just wasn’t present as the Frenchman opened up a commanding lead.

Elias started firing in the third game though as he finally found his range. For his part, Marche’s length died off, which allowed Elias to keep him pinned in the back corners before moving in for the kill at the front of the court.

A comfortable third game went the way of Elias, and he doubled up in the fourth to draw level, sneaking it 11-9. And as the fifth game came around, there was only going to be one winner as Marche cut a disconsolate figure.

Elias advances to the quarter-finals where he will face off against either Marwan ElShorbagy or Raphael Kandra.

“I won the last few times, so I knew he wanted revenge and he started really strongly,” said Elias.

“He hit a lot of winners, the court is a bit cold, so the ball stays in the front. I wasn’t moving my best and he took every opportunity, so it was good from him, but I’m happy to come back and find a way to win.

“In the past I would be very worried because I wasn’t the best physically, but I think I’m getting stronger and I’m ready to play a few more five gamers.”

[6] Diego Elias (PER) bt Gregoire Marche (FRA) 3-2: 5-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4 (73m)

Makin on Form to See Off Rooney

Joel Makin (left) celebrates against Patrick Rooney (right)

World No.9 Joel Makin put in an assured display to see off the dangerous Englishman Patrick Rooney and move into the quarter finals of this year’s Qatar Classic.

The pair had met three times previously on the PSA World Tour. Makin won their two most recent encounters, with their last match resulting in an enthralling 75-minute battle at the CIB Black Ball Squash Open back in March.

This time around though it was all Makin as he nullified Rooney with a polished performance which saw him triumph by an 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 scoreline.

After falling to a one-game deficit, Rooney finally started to impose himself on the match in the second as he took the first four points unopposed. However, four unforced errors soon followed, and Makin made no mistake in taking 11 of the next 12 points.

Rooney was unable to knock Makin off his stride in the third either, and it will be the Welshman who lines up against either Youssef Ibrahim or Mazen Hesham in the last eight.

“I know what he can do and I know how disruptive he is, so I didn’t let myself get passive at any point,” said Makin.

“I know how good he is and I respect the level he is playing at now. Although his ranking is around the 40s, in the next month or two he’s going to be around 20 or 25 in the world. I knew I had to squeeze him down the side walls and play at a good pace.

“I executed that well because it’s not easy to do against someone who is that good.

“It [playing with Rooney in the past] helped me put together tactics. I didn’t go into it thinking that because he’s ranked around 40 it should be a formality because it never is. I knew if I put together the squash I can play then it becomes a bit more straightforward, but if you go into it complacent then these guys are too good now at this point.

“It’s a good opportunity for me to get through to another semi final and move up through the rankings without playing a top four seed. It’s there for me to get to the next stage, but I’ve got wins against Mo and Ali a few weeks ago.

“It obviously helps if it’s not going to be against one of the big guys. You also want to beat those guys on the big stage and beat the World No.1 in a big semi final and win a title that way. It doesn’t worry me too much but it’s [seeing the big guns fall in the early stages] good to see.”

[8] Joel Makin (WAL) bt Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 (38m)

Hesham Topples Ibrahim in Back-and-Forth Encounter

Mazen Hesham

World No.13 Mazen Hesham has reached the quarter finals of the Qatar Classic for the first time in six years following a 3-2 victory over compatriot Youssef Ibrahim.

Ibrahim came into the match off the back of a superb win over top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy in the previous round and started the stronger of the two, winning the opening game which was lit up by some fine attacking squash from both players.

The World No.17 went right off the boil in the second game though and could only muster four points as Hesham went on to level. The third game was marked by a litany of errors from both competitors, with Hesham squandering two game balls to hand the advantage back to Ibrahim.

Hesham recovered though and was too good for his opponent in the fourth game as he converted the first of his four game balls. The scores were neck and neck in the decider until, at 8-8, a couple of loose shots from Ibrahim were punished with strokes and Hesham sealed the win with a fine crosscourt drop.

“It required everything in the tank,” said Hesham.

“I was surprised with how well I was moving and playing. Fingers crossed, touch wood, I don’t want to jinx anything, I’ve been injured for so many years and I’m really happy to be playing squash again and doing what I love, the way I love it.

“When I heard I was No.13 [in the world] last month, I woke up and thought that I didn’t want to be 13 again in my life, it’s a really bad number for me. Every time I hear about it or see it in elevators, I want to stay away from this number, so I’m trying my best to be up there or down there, I don’t want to be at 13 again.

“I can’t believe it’s six years ago [Hesham reached his first major semi final at the Qatar Classic]. I was on the edge of quitting a few times, so I’m very thankful to Allah, of course, and my team.”

Hesham will now take on No.8 seed Joel Makin for a place in the semi finals. Their last meeting went the way of Makin, who came back from 2-1 down to win 12-10 in the fifth.

Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt Youssef Ibrahim (EGY) 3-2: 9-11, 11-4, 11-13, 11-6, 11-8 (61m)

Kandra Into First Qatar Quarter Final After Upsetting ElShorbagy

Raphael Kandra

German No.1 Raphael Kandra has reached his first major PSA quarter final since the 2018 Allam British Open after he overcame No.4 seed Marwan ElShorbagy in a captivating five-game battle.

ElShorbagy had won five of their previous six matches, with Kandra’s sole victory coming during a stunning run to the semi finals of that British Open.

With ElShorbagy winning four on the trot against the World No.22, the Egyptian was the heavy favourite coming into the match and he took the opening game on the tie-break after both players had squandered two game balls.

There were too many errors from the World No.5’s racket in the second though as Kandra drew level for the loss of just three points. ElShorbagy again triumphed on a tie break in the third game to move to within one game win of a place in the last eight.

But he struggled to put away a tenacious Kandra, with the left-hander playing some immaculate drops on the forehand side. ElShorbagy grew increasingly frustrated with the referee as the match wore on, and he was unable to claw back control of the match as Kandra completed victories in games four and five to seal the win.

Kandra will now line up in the quarter finals of the Qatar Classic for the first time, where he will take on Peru’s Diego Elias.

“I feel a little shaky because we’ve had so many matches like this when I’ve been leading, he’s been leading, and it’s always quick-fire squash against him,” Kandra said afterwards.

“You don’t get any time to relax. I think I need to settle a little bit to realise I am in the quarter finals of the Qatar Classic, it means a lot to me.

“I’ve been working for such a long time on the steps to make not only the last 16, to make the last eight, which is a big difference.

“We [Kandra and Elias] recently played at the U.S. Open and he demolished me. I was 2-0 down within 15 minutes and I didn’t really get used to his game. I fought back and it was really close in the fourth.

“I have a good plan to play him and I want to show that on the court. I’m feeling comfortable here in Qatar, so I hope I can continue feeling like that.”

Raphael Kandra (GER) bt [4] Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) 3-2: 12-14, 11-3, 10-12, 11-5, 11-7 (58m)

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