R1 : Men’s Closing Matches

Wildcard Yahya Elnawasany plus Raphael Kandra, Lucas Serme and Mohamed ElSherbini are the final winners on Day One …

Raphael Kandra (Ger) 3-0 Ryosei Kobayashi (Jpn)    11-7, 11-2, 11-9 (27m)
[wc] Yahya Elnawasany (Egy) 3-1 Tayyab Aslam (Pak)    9-11, 11-1, 11-4, 11-8 (38m)
Lucas Serme (Fra) 3-1 Sebastien Bonmalais (Fra)    11-7, 11-8, 3-11, 15-13 (70m)
Mohamed ElSherbini (Egy) 3-1 Faraz Khan (Usa)    11-7, 11-9, 11-13, 12-10 (63m)

Yahya : Yes, I think my mum must be jumping up and down with joy !

It’s crazy, you know I just came here to prove myself. Two, three weeks ago, I lost in the Wadi Degla tournament, I played two 5K tournaments, and I was bad in both, and the level was not that high, so to be honest, I was about to quit squash.

Then I tried to come back bit by bit, last 5K I played I won, and that gave me a bit of confidence. So this tournament, I was to give it my all, because I was to reach the top level.

I played here 2 years ago in Al-Ahram, but it was my first time and I was not really up for it. But this time, I am taking it for real, I had a great opportunity to play Tayyab, and not a top seed, so I saw that as an opportunity, and I HAD to take it.

I will give it all tomorrow against Mazen, I don’t go on court thinking oh well, that’s it, I will give it my all, because I want to get there, I want to get up there with the top players!

Raphael : The first game, I started really slow, although I warmed up well, but within a few seconds, I was 5/1 down. So I thought OK, now it’s time to come back. It was a pretty even close match, I manage to take the first game, and it look like it affected him a lot, he really lost the enjoyment of the game, and the second game looked like he was injured and gave up really quickly

Then in the third, he surprised me again, he was firing, he had all the leads, until something like 7/7, then I sneaked like a 9/7 and I was able to convert that last game as he went for a bit too many shots, too many errors and that was my chance but it was hard.

I’m playing Superman itself. On the traditional court, it’s hard. Physically, it’s going to be hard, mentally, even harder! I know I’ll need to keep pushing pushing, even though he is retrieving everything… Happy to be kind of fresh for tomorrow, I didn’t lose too much energy, I’ll see what left in my tank, and enjoy it as much as I can.

Lucas : Bad news. After the COVID, Seb had a bit of a drop in energy, and he adapted his game with more variations, but now, he’s got the physicality back, and he is officially a NIGHTMARE!

But then again, I truly enjoyed the match and I want to think that even if I lost it, I would have been rather positive as I liked the way I was playing. But he was truly killing me tonight. I was at the end of my tether, so I tried other things, and it worked, he made a few errors at crucial points and I was just a bit more solid in the last tie-break.

I’m very proud I was able to push through, and I feel he will get a lot of positive out of this one.

Now, playing Ramit Tandon, completely different style, so relaxed, playing so many winners, a bit Ramy Ashour style in my opinion. I will need to be very solid, to try and maybe get a few errors out of him…

Mohamed : Today was a good match against a tough opponent. In the beginning, I was comfortable playing well, but little by little I started to lose my focus and thinking too much about my little niggle in my hand. I lost a bit of concentration.

I got back into it when I saw that the match was slipping out of my hands, I didn’t want to lose and go back home today. I tried to fight and finish the match in that 4th and crucial game.

In the 4th I played more aggressive towards the back, with a higher T position. I try to play good attacking shots, accurate squash, I’m not a runner. I don’t have that kind of fitness to make me go for hours. I rely on my good long penetrating drives and my nice volleys. It worked at the end, as I was seeing the match slipping away from me and I thought now, I have to win.

I’m playing Abdullah Al Tamimi, he is a very good friend, we played a lot in the juniors, he is one year younger than me, he is a very talented player. Sometimes he plays up, sometimes down, I hope that tomorrow he’ll play up so we can play a good match. I’m certainly not going to play like today, but I hope I can win because it’s the dream of my life to play in front of the Pyramids, I want it very bad…