Matthew and Duncalf fall on Day of Upsets in Doha

In a remarkable sequence of upsets men’s top seed Nick Matthew and women’s second seed Jenny Duncalf were only the headline casualties in Round Two of the PSA and WISPA Qatar Classic World Series event in Doha, Qatar .

Momen Momentum Downs Matthew In Qatar

Unheralded Egyptian Tarek Momen scored the best victory of his career when he crushed England’s world number oneNick Matthew in today’s second round of the Qatar Classic to claim an unlikely place in the quarter-finals of the sixthPSA World Series squash event of the year in the Qatar capital Doha.

The straight games upset brought to an end a remarkable run of ten successive PSA World Tour final appearances by the 31-year-old Englishman – which began immediately following Matthew’s semi-final exit in last year’s Qatar Classic.

Matthew led 6-1 in the first game and 5-1 in the second, but both times the confident 23-year-old from Cairo battled back. The out-of-sorts top seed recovered from 1-6 and 6-9 down in the third and went on to save two match balls – but it was third time lucky for Momen as the underdog raised in arms in triumph after his shock 11-9, 12-10, 11-8 victory after 44 minutes.

“I’m speechless,” said Momen to after his shock win at the Khalifa International Tennis & Squash Complex. “I’ve been so inconsistent for the past three years, I had my upsets, but today is by far my best result.

“Today, everything was going my way, and I thought ‘you’ve got to take the opportunity, it may never happen again’.

“Nick is such an amazing player – you just have days where you don’t get it right, and I’m sure he’ll be back very strong in the next tournament,” added the world No26.

Matthew was happy to try and explain matters later: “He made me feel very slow today, he was so quick, and if anything, the score flatters me. Today, was not my day, but he was too good today.

“Players have no respect for reputation, you’ve got to go on there and play the ball, and that’s exactly what Tarek did today – and maybe the English young players should take example on him, as they sometimes give too much respect to their opponent.

“But I’m getting older, I have to accept the fact that there will be days where hungry young players get the better of me – I did it when I was young, with David PalmerPeter NicolJohn White, etc, when the adrenalin takes you to the finishing line. That’s what happened today with Tarek.

“But don’t you worry, I’ll be back strong for the Worlds!”

Momen, celebrating his first appearance in a 2011 PSA World Series quarter-final, will now meet Gregory Gaultier after the sixth seed from France defeated Indian qualifier Siddharth Suchde 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 in the final match of the day.

There was disappointment for his compatriot Thierry Lincou earlier in the day. Unseeded on the PSA Tour for the first time for more than a decade, the 35-year-old former world number one faced Peter Barker, the seventh seed from England to whom he had never lost in four meetings since early 2006.

The left-hander from London looked to be heading for a comfortable win as he pulled clear from six-all in the first and took the second 11/3 – but, as expected, Lincou dug in and made the third tough.

At nine-all Lincou was annoyed to lose the point as Barker hit the ball from the back into the Frenchman’s leg, and having used his video appeal fruitlessly on that one, had none left when Barker put in a tight forehand volley to win the match 11-6, 11-3, 11-9.

“Too many errors, unforgiveable,” was the Frenchman’s verdict.

Barker admitted that he had been pumped up by seeing his head-to-head record with Lincou before the match: “Just before going on the court, I saw the record on the screen, and thought, well, that’s no good, is it!

“I didn’t play badly yesterday, but I knew I had to step up today, and I’m very happy with my two games, I think I contained him quite well, prevented him to get in front of me.

“In the third, it was a different story – he used his experience and physicality to step in front, and to be honest, I feel that I was lucky to win the third.

“Thierry is a absolute living legend, and beating him while he is in the top 100 is such an honour, and especially 3/0. I’m very happy,” added the world No7.

Barker will now face England team-mate James Willstrop for the fourth time this year – and the 15th time in his Tour career. The fourth seed from Leeds overcame German number one Simon Rosner 11-5, 11-2, 14-12.

Swiss star Nicolas Mueller continued his impressive Doha run. Two days after ousting Egypt’s fifth seed and former champion Amr Shabana, the unseeded 22-year-old from Zurich upset higher-ranked Malaysian Mohd Azlan Iskandar11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6 in exactly an hour.

“In the US Open a few days ago, he beat me easily 3/0, so when I took the first game, it boosted my confidence,” said Mueller.

Celebrating his maiden appearance in a World Series quarter-final, Mueller now faces third seed Karim Darwish. The defending champion from Egypt recorded the swiftest win of the day beating Finnish qualifier Henrik Mustonen 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 in just 29 minutes – in a repeat of their first round clash in the 2010 event.

Cameron Pilley guaranteed Australian presence in the semi-finals when he defeated England’s Tom Richards 11-7, 11-2, 13-11 after saving two game balls in the third.

The world No16 from New South Wales will face Canberra-born Stewart Boswell, the world No19 who beat fellow countryman and eighth seed David Palmer – for only the second time in 15 career meetings – 11-8, 4-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-5 in 80 minutes.

It was another match influenced by the pair’s pre-match head-to-head record, spotted by underdog Boswell: “I was not too happy about the 13/1 stats,” admitted Boswell, who is now in his first World Series quarter-final since January 2008. “David was over me for over a decade, so I’m happy to squeeze this one tonight.”

PSA World Series Qatar Classic2nd round:

Tarek Momen (EGY) bt [1] Nick Matthew (ENG) 11-9, 12-10, 11-8 (44m)
[6] Gregory Gaultier (FRA) bt [Q] Siddharth Suchde (IND) 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 (44m)
Nicolas Mueller (SUI) bt Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) 11-8, 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6 (60m)
[3] Karim Darwish (EGY) bt [Q] Henrik Mustonen (FIN) 11-4, 11-5, 11-5 (29m)
[4] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Simon Rosner (GER) 11-5, 11-2, 14-12 (47m)
[7] Peter Barker (ENG) bt Thierry Lincou (FRA) 11-6, 11-3, 11-9 (56m)
Stewart Boswell (AUS) bt [8] David Palmer (AUS) 11-8, 4-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-5 (80m)
Cameron Pilley (AUS) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 11-7, 11-2, 13-11 (54m)

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Seeds crash out on dramatic day in Doha

Another early start for defending champion and top seed Nicol David, who wasted little time in seeing off Kanzy El Dafrawy in three games.

The 17-year-old Egyptian competed well enough in the first two games, but was always behind on the scoreboard.

There was no diving today, but at 10-0 down in the third she let out a loud “YES” as a mishit boast saved her from a whitewash.

“I really enjoyed it,” said Kanzy, “I’ve been wanting to play Nicol since the day I was born! She gave me no chance, but I’m happy with my tournament.”

Raneem El Weleily will be the next young Egyptian to test Nicol, and judging by the form she showed in this re-run of her world junior final against Camille Serme, the Malaysian will be well tested.

El Weleily always looked in control, Serme unable to make much headway on the scoreboard as the Egyptian put her under constant pressure to reach the ball which contributed to more errors than is normal for the Frenchwoman.

“This is the third time I played Camille this year and we were one-all,” said Weleily, “so I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Yesterday I played well for two games then it didn’t go the way I wanted, so even at 2-0 up I told myself it wasn’t over, to stay on court, stay on court.

“I have a problem mentally to keep on doing what I’m doing when I’m winning, once I start thinking I think too much and that’s not what I want to do! But I’m enjoying playing the mature game, being more patient and not going for the winners and the shots so soon.

“I lost 3/0 to Nicol in Singapore, and I’m not sure I’ve ever taken a game off her. I’m happy to win today, I know I’ll have to play well tomorrow.

A disappointed Serme explained: “I wanted to do well in this tournament and I went in with a game plan, but from the start I just couldn’t breathe properly and my body just wouldn’t let me do what I knew I needed to do. It’s disappointing, but I’ll just have to put this tournament behind me and hop to do better in the worlds.”

Third seeded Australian Rachael Grinham didn’t make a good start against Aisling Blake. The Irishwoman who ousted Sarah Kippax yesterday raced into a 5/0 lead in the first, and although Grinham pulled back it was too late to salvage the game.

She didn’t make the same mistake in the next three though, pulling clear from the midpoint of each to advance to the quarter-finals 7/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/5.

“Aisling is tough to play, she’s improved a lost and I saw he play really well yesterday,” said Grinham.

“After that start I resigned myself to losing the first, but needed to get into the match as soon as I could rather than waiting for the second.

“I told myself that if you took away the start I could have won the first. The other games were hard, but once I’d toughed it out in the beginning my short game was working well at the end of them.”

The first session ended with a really enjoyable match, and an upset to boot, between Emma Beddoes and Joey Chan.

They went at it hammer and tong for 50-odd minutes, sharing the first four games with hardly an intervention from the referees. The fifth was point for point, and although Chan got to match ball first it was only fair that it went to extra points, the match and both players deserved that.

The Hong Kong left-hander got one more chance at 11/10 but Beddoes hit a winning return of serve and then after some frantic retrieveng by Joey Emma finally put a crosscourt too wide for 13/11 and let out a big “YES”.

“I’m so delighted,” said a jubilant winner. “Matches like that go either way and today it was me so I’m happy to take it this time, it doesn’t happen too often!

“We were ranked about the same so we knew it would be close, but it was a really good, fair game – she called her own ball out at 8-all in the first and there were maybe two decisions in the whole match.

“I’m ecstatic, it’s the furthest I’ve got in a big tournament, especially to win after saving two match balls like I did yesterday, and taking on Rachael on the glass court tomorrow should be an experience.

“Thanks to Eddie [Charlton] for all his help, I hope he’ll be watching tomorrow.”

“That’s definitely my best win,” said a delighted Low Wee Wern after she had beaten England’s in-form Laura Massaro in four tough games to start the evening session.

“Especially since she just won the US Open and I didn’t even make te main draw,” added the diminutive Malaysian.

After losing the first from 6/2 up, Massaro looked to have steadied the ship as she took the second comfortably, but Low won the big points at the end of two tough, long games, saving a game ball in the third and coming from 9/7 down in the fourth to win 11/6, 3/11, 12/10, 11/9.

“I had a bit of a shoulder injury in the US, so I went back home for two days before going to China, where I played well to win the tournament, so I felt good coming into this tournament and there was no pressure on me playing Laura, although I lost in five last time we played so I knew I had a chance.

“I knew I had to be patient and keep it steady as she gives nothing away, and thankfully it worked today.”

Third seed Madeline Perry stemmed the flow of upsets – temporarily – with a comfortable 11/5, 11/5, 11/3 victory over qualifier Farah Abdel Meguid in 22 minutes.

“I was pleased with that,” said the Irishwoman, “I’d only seen her play a handful of points before, but I knew that if she beat Jaclyn [Hawkes] she must be a good player, so I had to be on my toes from the start.”

The Egyptian charge was soon back on course though, as Nour El Sherbini put another seed out to pasture, beating Donna Urquhart 11/8, 11/7, 11/5 in just under half an hour.

“That’s frustrating,” said Urquhart. “I just never managed to get into it and I’m not at all tired. I’d never seen her play before, but she’s fast and strong and puts the ball away from anywhere – and she just played better than me today.”

Sherbini was naturally pleased with her win. “I think I played well today,” said the 16-year-old former world junior number two. “I knew I had to concentrate from the start, and I wasn’t thinking about the size of the tournament or her being left-handed, I just tied to play my game the best I could and I think I did that.

“I hope I play as well on the glass court tomorrow, either against Jenny or my roommate Nour El Tayeb!”

It will be her roommate who Sherbini meets in the quarter-finals after a night of upsets was completed with the world junior champion beating the world number two – and to put it into context, that wasn’t even the biggest upset of the day!

Nour El Tayeb played well in the first game to win it 11/8, Jenny Duncalf bounced back to level with 11/5, and then in a similar vein to previous matches it was the underdog who prevailed at the end of tough and tense games.

“I knew I had to win the third and the fourth,” said El Tayeb, “if I’d lost either of those my fitness wouldn’t have carried me through the fifth.”

She did win them both, just, taking two tense rallies at the end of the third for 11/9 and almost letting a 7/2 in the fourth slip, diving in vain on her first two match balls as Duncalf levelled it 10-all.

A third match ball was enough though, and after 59 minutes another top seed was out.

“That’s the longest four games I’ve ever played,” she added. “I knew I was playing the world number two so there was no pressure on me, I just wanted to play well and prove to myself I was up there.

“I need to be mentally stronger, I let a couple of leads slip and I just lost it completely in the second, but it was tough all the way, she doesn’t give anything away, she’s the world number two after all!

“It’s good to be back in the quarters after my good results here last year, I’m happy I played well and hope I can carry on like this. It should be a good match with Nour [El Sherbini], we always seem to end up playing each other these days!”

WISPA World Series Qatar Classic2nd round:

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt Kanzy El Dafrawy (Egy) 11/6, 11/7, 11/1 (25m)
[9] Raneem El Weleily (Egy) bt [7] Camille Serme (Fra) 11/7, 11/5, 11/5 (26m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt Aisling Blake (Irl) 7/11, 11/5, 11/7, 11/5 (49m)
Emma Beddoes (Eng) bt [15] Joey Chan (Hkg) 8/11, 11/6, 11/7, 6/11, 13/11 (54m)
[12] Low Wee Wern (Mas) bt [5] Laura Massaro (Eng) 11/6, 3/11, 12/10, 11/9 (57m)
[4] Madeline Perry (Irl) bt [Q] Farah Abdel Meguid (Egy) 11/5, 11/5, 11/3 (21m)
Nour El Sherbini (Egy) bt [10] Donna Urquhart (Aus) 11/8, 11/7, 11/5 (29m)
[13] Nour El Tayeb (Egy) bt [2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 11/8, 5/11, 11/9, 12/10 (59m)

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